The BMW X5 has long since established itself as one of the kings of the sport-utility world. Hailing from a brand known for producing the “Ultimate Driving Machine“, the X5 takes pride in being one of the few SUVs in the world that provides a rewarding driving experience combined with an immense level of versatility. I had driven the first-generation model many years ago, but this new generation was previously unfamiliar prior to this road test. I drove the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i, the flagship model in the X5 range, to see what I thought.
Some very bold badges on the doors of this massive SUV say “xDrive50i”. The first part is simple: xDrive refers to BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. The 50i should mean that it has a 5.0L engine, right? Wrong. We have finally arrived at that day in age where an alphanumeric model name can no longer be expected to signify the engine displacement. The X5 xDrive50i has a massive 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. Yes, unlike the 3.0L twin-scroll single-turbocharged motor in the xDrive35i, this V8 beast actually sports two turbochargers under the hood. It produces 445 horsepower and an insane 479 lb-ft of torque. This means the X5 is seriously fast – there is minimal turbo lag and this big guy rockets to speed with ease, seemingly defying the laws of physics. The only transmission available is the brilliant ZF 8-speed automatic box.
Not only does the big dog of the X5 lineup haul serious ass, it handles too. Our tester came sporting the M Sport Line package, which ticks off not only the adaptive “M” suspension and some other sporty toys, but also some stylish 20″ wheels with sticky tires (315/35 in the rear!). It grips the pavement with brute force and there is minimal body roll when taking corners. This is not your typical soccer mom SUV. The big engine and huge wheels do have an impact on fuel economy, but not nearly as much as one would expect. We averaged a very reasonable 13.6L/100km over the course of our two week test. On highway runs using the “Eco Pro” mode, the big BMW actually returned about 11.5L/100km. Not awful, but the huge gas tank means fill-ups do add up and hurt the wallet.
This particular X5 was absolutely loaded to the gills. The V8 model starts at about $76,000, but ours was optioned up to the tune of $96,000. Other than the M Sport Line package, notable options included the Premium Package, the Technology Package, the Bang & Olufsen sound system, ConnectedDrive, and the rear seat entertainment system. I’m typically a huge advocate for the Bang & Olufsen sound experience, but in this application, I would forego the extra cost and live with the perfectly adequate Harman-Kardon unit that is one price level below.
Technology on board seems to be limitless. The surround-view camera system is incredibly high resolution and is seriously nuts to look at. I have never been more comfortable parking a big SUV – for once, the electronic nannies weren’t an issue. The X5 also came with toys most buyers wouldn’t notice, such as the soft-closing doors. I particularly liked the heads-up display as well; it’s a neat toy that, along with looking great, is very functional and provides a day-to-day benefit that wouldn’t get old. Overall interior quality and design is out of this world. Not only is the new BMW X5 wonderful to look at, it’s a beautiful place to be on the inside. The interior of our car was finished in Dakota Leather and literally every surface within it oozed class; even the key is unique from other BMW products and feels substantial.
Families looking for a three-row SUV need not be disappointed. Even though this particular X5 is a five-seater, BMW does provide the option of a third row. There’s a bit of a problem here though; the three-row X5 isn’t very roomy. With the seats up, there isn’t much room at all to put luggage in the trunk, and the third row itself isn’t very roomy as the one in the Audi Q7. This wouldn’t be a problem for those who only use their third row sparingly, but it could pose a problem for those with particularly large families. The front and rear seats of our 5-seater model were all noticeably comfortable, superbly bolstered, and very enjoyable for long distances.
Firing up the engine of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i produces a seriously evil snarl from the exhausts. The gigantic panoramic sunroof gives its occupants an aura of being in a limousine, and the interior only adds to that feeling. I do wish that the fog lights on the front bumper were in a more flush location; while they are LED, they just look like they were an afterthought and are placed slightly awkwardly. Other than that though, this large, upscale SUV is pretty flawless. Competitors like the Audi Q7 are great, but are more luxury oriented and lack the sportiness of the X5. I know my colleagues have said numerous times that they would opt for the fuel-sipping X5 xDrive35d with its efficient diesel engine, but I don’t think I could say no to the sheer power and menacing looks of this fire-breathing V8 model. The short-lived BMW X5M never really made much sense to me; the 2014 X5 xDrive50i won me over.
2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i Gallery