There aren’t a lot of differences between the 2011 BMW X5 and the 2010, unless you look under the hood. The engines have been greatly improved, gaining a lot of power and a new transmission to boot. Some of the interior has changed as well. That pesky little iDrive monitor gets bigger this year, meaning drivers can actually use it.
The X5 doesn’t offer the biggest SUV on the market, and the price tag continues to shock, but drivers seem hard-pressed to find a midsize crossover SUV of this quality among the competition. The BMW X5 continues to be one of the finest on the market.
Body Styles: midsize luxury crossover SUV
Engines: 3.0-liter six-cylinder, 4.4-liter V-8, 3.0-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: eight-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: BMW xDrive35i, BMW xDrive35i Premium, BMW xDrive35i Sport Activity, BMW xDrive50i, BMW xDrive35d
The BMW X5 gets a big powertrain change in 2011. The base engine becomes a 300-horsepower, turbocharged six-cylinder. The V-8 engine upgrades to a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8, the same available in the 7 Series. An eight-speed automatic transmission now comes standard on every 2011 BMW X5 except with the diesel engine. The X5 also receives a few style changes.
The 2011 BMW X5 classifies as a four-door crossover SUV.
Standard exterior features for the base xDrive35i include 18-inch wheels, fog lights, automatic and adaptive headlights, and automatic wipers.
The xDrive35i increases the wheel size to 19-inches and adds roof rails and privacy glass to the exterior.
The xDrive35i Sport activity and the xDrive50i receive 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, and parking sensors.
The interior of the BMW X5 looks fairly elegant without being flashy. The front seats have a lot of adjustments available that make sitting in the front a true comfort. The seats adjust for a wide variety of passengers; even tall passengers feel comfortable. A new iDrive system replaces the old one, which proved hard to operate and a real downside of the previous BMW X5.
Headroom is great in the 2011 BMW X5 but the second-row seats sit a bit low to the ground, making them uncomfortable for taller passengers. The optional third row feels extremely cramped and may only be suitable for children, especially on long rides. With the second and third-row seats folded, however, the BMW X5 offers an impressive 75 cubic feet of space, about average for the vehicles in this class.
Performance & Handling
The BMW X5 has three different engine types. The xDrive35i receives the 3.0-liter six-cylinder that produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The xDrive50i receives a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that produces 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Both of these engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 2011 BMW X5 xDrive35d uses a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder, turbodiesel engine that produces 265 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque. This engine weds to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The BMW X5 provides one of the best-handling SUVs on the market. The BMW X5 handles itself well on and off-road. Although other SUVs may handle themselves a bit better in off-road conditions, you can’t slight the BMW X5’s abilities. The high ride height and large curb weight can be a bit of a problem on tight roads, though.
Engine performance proves exceptional with each engine type. Steering can be a bit of a workout in tight parking situations and in the city. Ride quality is good, and the cabin stays quiet, but at times the BMW X5 feels a bit too stiff for its class.
The 2011 BMW X5 comes equipped with anti-lock brakes, stability control, brake drying and standby, a rollover sensor, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags for the first and second rows, a child anchor, and pretensioning seat belts.
The BMW X5 receives a perfect five-star mark for front driver’s-side impacts and four stars for side impacts. The IIHS gives the BMW X5 its best score of “Good” for front and side impacts.
EPA Fuel Economy
BMW X5 xDrive35i: 16/23 mpg city/highway
BMW X5 xDrive35i Premium: 16/23 mpg city/highway
BMW X5 xDrive35i Sport Activity: 16/23 mpg city/highway
BMW X5 xDrive50i: 14/20 mpg city/highway
BMW X5 xDrive35d: 19/26 mpg city/highway
- Great handling
- Powerful and competent engines
- On-road and off-road capability
- Lots of standard features
- Lots of stability even in high-speed situations
You Won't Like
- Heavy steering in low-speed situations
- Firm ride
- High price
- Passenger space
One of the top SUVs on the market.
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