The memory feature, which comes standard, is handy once the driver has found a comfortable position. Adding the optional third-row seat expands passenger capacity to seven, but it also eliminates most of that cargo space. It can still require several steps to perform various functions, making tasks like finding a new radio station overly complicated, but we find the latest generation easier to use than its predecessor. The bottom cushion for the rear seats can be removed completely, as a single piece. Endowed with a well-controlled body, more-than competent chassis and clever four-wheel drive system - as well as the aforementioned grunt - the X5 makes back road trips fuss-free regardless of the surface. It features a different lower fascia with an integral rear diffuser that surrounds quad exhaust outlets. Quoted kerb weight is 2150 kg.
Its on-pavement potential exceeds whatever the vast majority of drivers are likely to exploit, and its strength might be the very reason some buyers should consider a slightly less capable competitor. It's not meant to be an off-road vehicle, and in terms of utility, the X5 lacks the cargo-passenger flexibility and ultimate cargo capacity of many competitors. The inline-6 provides decent power for around-town driving. Deep dips on the gas pedal generate a distant growl that reminds a driver of the capability under the hood, but the sound doesn't intrude on conversations or create more vibration inside the X5. One of the best things about the iDrive-equipped X5 is that it has conventional switches for temperature adjustment, fan speed and airflow, and for some audio functions, with a genuine volume control. The X5 can tow a substantial 6,000 pounds, however, and the all-wheel-drive can be a great friend in a blizzard.
The 35d has so much torque, even a casual jab at the gas pedal can squawk tires pulling away from a stop sign. The X5 M model adds Dynamic Performance Control. Chalk that up to a taller ride height and excess weight. When the driver wants to shift manually, it works great, changing gears immediately with a quick movement of the wrist, up or down. The engine supplies its power through to the wheels by means of an 8 speed automatic gearbox. The X5's power is emphasized by its quick-reacting gas pedal, which is tuned for pavement driving, while those in many competitors have more pedal travel for more precise modulation off road.
But once up and running, the seamless outputs put the big wagon well into its stride and it can be quick and pleasantly planted, a well-balanced machine to drive. In some respects, however, the 30i feels lighter than the V8, perhaps more spry, and the engine is almost as smooth as the V8, too. In addition to the new X5 M model, 2010 changes to the X5 lineup include some equipment upgrades. It's all-wheel drive system is one of the more intelligent systems on offer, using all four wheels - running a front to rear 40:60 split most of the time - rather than running front-wheel drive and reacting to traction changes. Our only gripe with the packaging relates to the fat rear roof pillars.
Exterior cues indicate its performance potential. The optional third row is a kids-only bench and would eat into the luggage space - if you're needing a third row there are probably better options. All models have a clamshell tailgate that is a mixed bag, in our view. The 35d diesel engine provides a lot of power: 265 horsepower, with a whopping 425 pound-feet of torque. The back seat is more than roomy enough for two adults, three in a pinch, and there's enough cargo space in back for a two-day family outing. Inside, it offers plenty of room for five, with a nice, rich finish and nearly all the bells and whistles one expects in a high-line luxury sedan. That's partly because it better suits the X5's bigger, heftier character, and partly because the diesel's shortcomings seem less prominent in the X5.
Once a driver gets used to the throttle, however, the 35d can really haul. These so-called separation edges smooth air as it rushes over the back of the vehicle. That's impressive for a 5368 pound vehicle. Factor in the sensitive gas pedal, and you might end up with more aggravation than a hockey dad or soccer mom needs. Most surfaces have a rich feel, and the seats are perforated to enable the active ventilation option. In the M model, drivers can also control the M Drive settings through the iDrive system. Torque is that force that you feel when accelerating.
Unfortunately, there are still too many things you can't adjust without delving into the iDrive menus. It takes more effort to operate than it would if only the glass opened up and down. Just plan to travel fairly light. It's substantially quicker to 60 mph than the gasoline X5 30i, and not much slower than the V8-powered X5 48i, despite the substantial improvement in fuel economy. Some drivers may find the X5's sensitive throttle annoying during a stop-and-go commute after a long, stressful day.
It's not meant to be an off-road vehicle, and in terms of utility, the X5 lacks the cargo-passenger flexibility and ultimate cargo capacity of many competitors. In fact, it's a tenth of a second quicker than the much lighter, though not turbocharged, M3. Even with cargo space maximized, the X5 offers less capacity than most competitors. On the road, the X6 M has plenty of immediate grunt, and a further stab of the throttle provides a neck-snapping rush of acceleration. The system also sends drive to the rear end for corner exits, which contributes to its cornering prowess. It's louder and rougher in general than the X5 gasoline engines, and also some of the other new-age diesels from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The dropdown center rear armrest offers no cupholders or storage, but it reveals the optional locking pass-through port for long items such as skis or fly rods.
These controls allow you to firm up the suspension, leave more room for play in the stability control system, increase throttle response, adjust shift points and add a rev counter warning in the optional Head-up display to inform you when to shift manually if you're using the automatic transmission's M manual mode. It also generates less carbon dioxide. Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. Cruise-control functions are located on a third stalk on the steering column, with wipers on the conventional, right stalk and a trip computer button on the left, turn-signal stalk. The diesel engine clatters a bit when idling, especially when it's cold. The M model deletes the fog lights in favor of larger lower air intakes and more prominent grille openings.