German SUVs are popular among active adults because of build quality and style. The X series from BMW has been a runaway success for the brand, but many are shocked to learn its origins. Since it launched in 1999, the BMW X5 has been built in Greer, South Carolina. The drivetrain may be Deutsch, but the body and many ancillaries are made in the USA. Our Publisher had a 2012 X5M for a daily driver, and I can attest to its rugged suspension and twin turbo V8 power. A new chassis is coming next year, so they allowed us to spend a week with a new version of an old friend. The 3rd generation X5 launched in late 2013 for the ’14 model year. Standard equipment is the venerable TwinPower 3.0 liter straight six. If you can’t have fun with 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque you should seek treatment because it’s a great engine. And if you don’t need the wild power and aggression of the X5M, the mid-level option is the 4.4-liter twin turbo V8. The first mass produced reverse flow V8, the exhaust ports are aimed to the V of the engine. This mounts the turbos inside the V for instant response. Engineers even went so far as tuning each exhaust pulse into the turbine housing.
Cruising around Florida’s west coast you will have no shortage of SUVs to congest the roads. So your ace in the hole is 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Only available in xDrive AWD, the X5 sends power exactly where needed. Blistering launches are accompanied by a strange exhaust note from the reverse flow engine. Body roll is well-subdued thanks to stiff sway bars and Teutonic springs. With performance equivalent to the X5M of the previous generation, you will have ample torque in any situation.
Inside the layout is unmistakably BMW. Even blindfolded, most Bimmer enthusiasts would quickly locate the shifter and control stalks. The best feature on wet roads is brake drying. Water sensors mounted down low tell the ABS module to keep slight pressure on the brake pads. They have a slight grip on the rotor which generates enough heat to keep them dry. It also means an instant pedal response in wet weather driving. An 8-speed automatic is the only transmission, and we feel that an engine of this power level doesn’t need such complexity. Not to say its unsuited, it seems to be ever-shifting up and down in the name of fuel mileage.
Built for a global market, the X5 is not as wide as our domestic models, but that makes it easier to maneuver in urban settings. Visibility is best in class and the seating position is ideal. Curb weight is just over 5,000 lbs so it has a plush ride on the highway. Fuel mileage in city driving is only 15 mpg because the turbos come alive almost instantly. It was a fun week and we would consider this American built BMW before many domestic offerings. It would be nice to see a low range in the transfer case, but for $72,300 you will have a comfortable and capable ride with plenty of room. We patiently await the fourth generation, so stay with us for updates on the latest from BMW.