2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Photo Gallery: 2007 BMW X5

Second opinion by Greg Wilson

When a lone voice dissents in the wilderness, is she right?

I have to admit, while I try to be humble in other areas, there’s a certain amount of arrogance that naturally goes with this job: to pass judgment on a vehicle, you have to believe you’re right about it. And that presents a problem with the redesigned 2007 BMW X5. While I found several attributes in its favour, the package as a whole didn’t impress me all that much. That’s at odds with most of my colleagues, who have written mostly praise for the German automaker’s South Carolina-built SUV, and which leads me to wonder why the X5 doesn’t push my buttons the way it does theirs.

I suspect part of it may be that it pales in comparison to the X3, which I drove shortly beforehand. That smaller model, also improved for 2007, is nimble, comfortable, fun to drive and well-sized, and made the X5 seem even heavier and more ponderous by contrast. The X5 has tight steering, but there’s only so much you can do in the face of physics, and its weight and centre of gravity make themselves known both when you’re driving it as a sporty vehicle, and when it’s just a way to get from A to B in everyday traffic.

Two engines are available: the X5 4.8i uses a 4.8-litre V8, while my 3.0si tester carries a 3.0-litre inline six. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission and xDrive, the company’s superb proactive all-wheel drive system; under normal driving conditions, it distributes torque 40/60 front to rear, but can transfer up to 100 per cent of power when required, using sensors to determine the possibility of wheel slippage.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

The six-cylinder makes 260 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, and with such a deliciously throaty rumble that I second-guessed myself and checked to make sure it wasn’t the V8, because it certainly sounds like one. But it has a lot of X5 to pull around, and needs a hard throttle to get off the line sharply, with a corresponding movement of the fuel gauge. My combined fuel mileage was so far off the scale that I have to suspect fault with either the odometer or, more likely, the gas station slip, and so I can only report on the vehicle’s published mileage of 13.6 L/100 km in the city and 9.3 L on the highway (the V8, by contrast, is rated at 15.9 and 10.0).

I wasn’t overly impressed with the process of actually getting the X5 on the road. My tester had been equipped with aluminum running boards (part of a $1,300 “Activity Package” that also includes a ski bag, storage compartment package and headlight washers); as with many SUVs from various manufacturers, they proved too narrow to be good steps, but wide enough that they were a royal pain when getting in and out.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

The X5 features the engine start/stop button that is unfathomably becoming all the rage with higher-end automakers – but for some strange reason, the brick-like key must first be inserted into a slot in the dash – a two-stage system that, for all the BMW’s sophistication, isn’t much different from the way I have to start my 1947 Cadillac. Slot and button are beside each other on the dash, and the other keys on my ring sometimes got in the way of pushing the engine button. When it comes to key-fob-into-slot arrangements, Volkswagen is still miles ahead of the pack, with a further push of the inserted key operating the starter. Simple, elegant, and unlike a proximity key, you always know where it is.

My third gripe is with the gearshift lever, which is basically the 7 Series’ column-mounted switch moved to the centre console.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

When almost every other console-mounted automatic shifter is P-R-N-D, the X5 uses just R-N-D, with a button at the top of the lever to put it into Park and one on the side to shift into Reverse; when it’s in Park, the shifter is in the central position. It’s so counter-intuitive as to be dangerous to the casual user. At one point, I almost drove into a parked car when I automatically pulled the shifter down one notch – which would put it into Reverse on just about any other vehicle – and thought the vehicle was going to back up. On the X5, that put it in Drive; instead, I should have pushed it toward the dash for Reverse. No doubt it becomes second nature to dedicated X5 drivers, but it could prove problematic for multi-vehicle families.

As befitting a BMW, the X5’s fit and finish is pretty much beyond reproach, with a handsome dash layout, good driver’s seating position, and firm seats that provide exceptional support for long-distance driving. My tester’s Premium Package included “comfort” seats, which include power cushion length and lumbar support.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

The X5 uses iDrive, of course, but most of the common HVAC operations are operated by buttons, should you want to override the dual-zone automatic climate control. Full backlighting makes everything easier to find in the dark, and there are covered cubbies, along with a pushbutton-operated glovebox, for storing smaller items. The wipers are the dreaded rain-sensing variety, which don’t work well in drizzle, and are further hampered by a driver’s-side blade that doesn’t wipe far enough to the A-pillar. Get that area coated in road salt, throw in the wide pillar itself, and you’ve got a massive blind spot that can easily hide pedestrians or other vehicles.

The rear seats are big and comfortable, with a full-length padded armrest and cargo pass-through. Third-row seats are a $1,900 option and judging by the space back there, I would imagine they’d be just as uncomfortable as those from most other manufacturers; unless you absolutely must haul a minivan’s worth of people without buying a minivan, go for the five-passenger version, which includes a huge divided storage compartment hidden under the rear cargo floor.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

The liftgate opens clamshell-style, with a panel that automatically slides out to cover the gap and make loading easier; BMW says that the lowered liftgate will hold 250 kg, and it’s perfect if you need a perch when strapping on boots or skis.

On the asphalt, I found the X5 tries too hard to put the “Sport” into SUV: the ride is very harsh, sending every road bump into the cabin. The steering is exceptionally responsive – this is a BMW, after all – but there’s only so much you can do when faced with physics, and no matter what, a 2,260-kg truck with a high centre of gravity can only be so adept through the twisties. I would definitely check off the Active Steering option ($4,700, which combines it with adaptive drive), as I found the X5’s steering to be very stiff at lower speeds, and it could benefit from that system’s lighter effort in parking lots.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

The X5 would be the perfect vehicle to take five passengers in comfort on a long, straight highway trip, where its supportive seats, good highway manners and luxury appointments would work in its favour. Take it on a daily commute through the urban jungle, though, and its size and weight just make you realize that if you need an SUV, the X3 is, simply, a superior vehicle.

Which leads me back to my original question: is there something really special about the X5, which is plain as day to my colleagues, and for some reason is evading me? I wanted to love the X5; BMW is, admittedly, one of my favourite automakers, and I’m very fond of most of its products. I tried to be objective, and I did find many high points, but I found even more that turned me away from it. Of course, in the long run, only a test-drive and your own opinion will decide if it’s the right or wrong vehicle for you.

Second Opinion: Greg Wilson

You’re not alone Jil. I have to agree on most points: the 2007 X5 3.0si does feel heavy and ponderous on the road, particularly around town. The ride is stiff and the steering effort at slower speeds is firm. The step-in height is rather high and the optional aluminum running board actually makes it more difficult to get into the cabin.

2007 BMW X5 3.0si
2007 BMW X5 3.0si. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the quality of the materials is top class, but the ergonomics aren’t good. The separate key and start button is a dumb idea; and the shift lever, with its electronic Park button, is unnecessarily complicated.

The new X5 seems to have lost some of its nimbleness – not surprising since it is bigger. In a way I regret having criticized the last X5 for having a small trunk – as did many other writers. Now BMW has made it bigger and heavier, so it’s lost some of its sportiness.

Regarding the X5’s complicated controls and difficult ingress/egress, I wonder if BMW designers drive and use the products they design? Anyone who drove this X5 for a few days would see the problems.

Pricing: 2007 BMW X5 3.0si

  • Base price: $61,900
  • Options: $5,200 (Activity Package of aluminum running boards, ski bag, storage compartment package and headlamp washers, $1,300; Premium Package of garage door opener, panorama sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, front comfort seats, lumbar support, compass mirror and light package, $3,900)
  • Freight: $1,895
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $69,095 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


  • Click here for complete specifications

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