2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i Road Test

The big brother of the BMW X family steals the spotlight.

What It Is
A mid-size luxury crossover with thrilling performance.
Best Thing
Swift, smooth-as-butter acceleration
Worst Thing
Be prepared to spend a lot of time getting used to the infotainment system
Snap Judgment
Comfortable, quick, and relatively practical, the X5 is a top contender in its segment.


The 2014 BMW X5 is a favorite in its segment, and it looks the part. Its chiseled body lines, high stance, and striking xenon headlights command attention. But while it looks like a big and brawny SUV, it certainly doesn't drive that way. The X5 definitely fits the bill from what you expect from BMW, providing buyers with a rewarding drive experience just like you would expect in a 3 Series. But while we are overall very satisfied with this model, we weren't pleased with everything. Read on to learn more about what we thought of the 2014 BMW X5.

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What We Drove

Far from an entry level luxury model, the X5 starts at $52,800 and tops out at over $70,000--depending on the trim level and options chosen. It is available with six-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines, gasoline or diesel, with two-wheel or all-wheel drive, and in two-row or three-row configurations.

We drove the BMW X5 xDrive35i model, which comes with a mid-range 3.0-liter six-cylinder gas engine and all-wheel drive. Standard features include heated front seats with lumbar, panoramic moonroof, auto tailgate, park control, iDrive infotainment, navigation, and more. This model starts at $55,100, but a number of options bump this price up significantly. The M Sport package, which provides a number of cosmetic upgrades, tacked on $4,600. A $550 cold weather package, and a $4,500 dynamic handling package added to the price. All in all, the model we drove came out to a total of $69,575.

Safety features on the X5 include adaptive brakelights, front and rear head protection system, rollover sensor, seatbelt pretensioners, and more. The BMW X5 is not yet rated by the government, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the SUV top scores in front and side crashes.

The Commute

The X5 makes the daily grind easier with plenty of acceleration for highway merging and city driving. Able to hit 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, the X5 stands out among larger crossovers. And even better, the X5 glides over road imperfections with ease, providing for a smooth and quiet ride. The largest potholes or major dips in the road are almost unnoticeable in this SUV. During sudden stops or tight turns, the X5 still performs confidently on the road. As far as the driving experience goes, we really had nothing to complain about.

Sitting down for the first time in the X5 reveals a comfortable interior. Customers will like the seats if they prefer supportive over soft, although drivers can adjust the temperature, lumbar, and other functions. Shorter passengers may have a hard time finding a comfortable position to reach the pedals, however, as the seats only move up so far. But thanks to its premium materials and large seats, most passengers will find the X5 provides an accommodating ride for short or long drives.

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The Grocery Run

It is hard not to see three or four BMW X5 SUVs when you enter a grocery store parking lot in Southern California. Fortunately, these cars are perfect for the job. Despite its large size, the X5 maneuvers capably in and out of parking lots. While our model did not include a rearview camera, parking sensors helped us make sure we could safely pull into a parking space.

While it may not have the most cargo room in its class, our X5 provided plenty of space for a dozen bags of groceries. Drivers who need more room can fold down the rear seats very easily. Accessing the back requires lowering the two-piece tailgate. The lower piece folds flat and extends out of the vehicle, but we aren't convinced that this feature provides much utility, other than making it easier to sit on the back of the car. Overall, we had just enough room in our X5, but those opting for the optional third row may find cargo and passenger room a bit tight. Those looking for more space may want to consider the Infiniti QX60.

The Weekend Fun

The BMW X5 makes a good weekend warrior, coming in ahead of rivals in terms of fuel economy. At 18/27 mpg city/highway, the BMW bests similarly-powered Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz ML, and Porsche Cayenne models. Its strong performance and spacious backseat also makes a strong case for weekend fun. But a good weekend warrior car nowadays must also be able to navigate its driver to a given destination, and we found our BMW wasn't able to do this very well.

The large, thin screen in the center console certainly looks like the latestand greatest, but we were disappointed by its lack of functionality. We spent over 20 minutes fiddling with the navigation system. Drivers have to sift through a number of menus and options to find what they are looking for, and we found that working the control knob was more difficult than we expected. Voice commands weren't much easier.

Aside from the infotainment system, we think there is a lot of enjoyment to be had in this SUV. Extras like a panoramic moonroof, unique red interior lighting, and heated seats all around are welcome features in this luxury SUV.

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Summary

Perhaps the ultimate family hauler, the BMW X5 provides plenty of luxury, passenger space, and power to whet the appetites of those who love to drive and those who need to carry many people. Those with large cargo needs may not want to opt for this car, since room in the trunk can be slightly limited. When looking at the big picture, this model is one of the top choices in its class, particularly when equipped with the powerful yet fuel-efficient V-6 engine.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $69,575
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 18
EPA Highway: 27
EPA Combined: 21
Cargo Space: more than a dozen grocery bags
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Good
Estimated Combined Range: 470 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Above Average

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