2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
Day-by-Day Review: 2009 BMW X5

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2009 BMW X5

Ottawa, Ontario – A diesel engine seems a logical choice to power any kind of truck. Diesels are torquey, which is perfect for towing and hauling heavy stuff, plus they’re more fuel-efficient than comparable gas engines – anyone who pays the fuel bill can appreciate this.

So why are there so few diesel-powered vehicles available in North America? Most likely it has to do with diesel’s reputation on this continent, but more on that later.

The BMW X5 xDrive35d is the latest in the short line of modern diesel-powered crossovers. It’s powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine that makes 265 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque, the latter of which peaks between 1,750 and 2,250 rpm.

Slow? No: BMW claims a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 7.4 seconds – not bad for a truck weighing in at well over two-and-a-half tons (2,370 kg/5,224 lbs). And it certainly feels that fast, but not in the normal sense of the word. This one gets all its go in the lower reaches of the tachometer, and full-throttle acceleration feels strangely calm compared to that in a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. Foot-to-the-floor acceleration is accompanied by a staccato exhaust bark sounding more like a V8’s than that of a six-cylinder’s.

2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d. Click image to enlarge

The smelly part is taken care of by urea injection and selective catalytic reduction systems in the exhaust stream. A 25-litre reservoir for the “exhaust fluid” is found under the hood, just in front of the windshield washer filler. Read more about the system in Autos’s first drive review of the X5 diesel. Long story short, it works: once the engine is fully warmed up, the exhaust smells like not much at all, and there is none of the black smoke that many drivers associate with diesels.

Noise-wise, when the engine is running, there is some diesel “clatter” noticeable when you’re standing close to the car, and it’s more pronounced right after a cold start. But it’s minimal, for sure, and from inside, there is little to suggest this isn’t a typical gasoline-fired X5.

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