2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Hard to believe it’s been nearly 15 years since BMW first dipped its toe into the premium SUV pool with the first generation X5. Oh, sorry, that’s SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) in BMW-speak. As might be expected, this maker of touchstone sport sedans received its share of flak for what was considered a heretical venture back at the turn of the century.

Indeed, there weren’t too many others splashing about in those waters then. Not the case now. The market is lousy with high-end, high-ridin’ conveyances.

Enter the 2014 BMW X5. This is the third generation of BMW’s full-size four-wheeler, and while it doesn’t look a whole lot different from the previous model, it’s pretty much all new from stem to stern.

The wheelbase remains the same but it’s a tad longer, sports a more upright look with crisp horizontal character lines, and a has longer snout. The grill is bolder and the standard Xenon headlights with LED “corona rings” peer ahead with increased menace. The taillights echo those of the X1. A pair of nifty vents live just aft of the front wheel wells.

BMW claims this new model slips through the air more efficiently and has shed about 90 kg.

The 2014 X5 currently comes in three flavours: the rip-snortin’ 445 hp xDrive50i ($76,500), the diesel-powered 255 hp xDrive35d ($64,400), and the model we’re looking at today, the xDrive35i that gets down the road thanks to BMW’s excellent 300 hp, 295 lb-ft, single-turbo, 3.0L straight-six mated to an eight-speed ZF transmission. Price of admission is $62,900, although this specimen weighs in at $81,645 thanks to a plethora of options and packages.

The BMW X5 has always been one of the best-handling and most driver-focused SUVs on the market. A few moments behind the wheel of this latest-gen model reinforces that assertion.

First off, the seats are excellent – a trait we’ve noted in all the Bimmers that have come through here lately. It helps that these standard 10-way units are trimmed in artfully stitched Extended Nappa Leather ($1,900).

The thickly padded and standard heated steering wheel fills the hands, but I’m surprised there are no paddle shifters.

On the road the 2014 X5 xDrive35i comes together as a well sorted piece. The steering has good on-centre feel and transmits a meaty, well-weighted connection to the front tires. Yes, the ride is on the firm side, but far from uncivilized.

And what can we say about this engine/tranny combo? These two exceptional components are a match made in heaven. The eight-speed ZF shifts imperceptibly and makes the most of the straight-six’s 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque that churns away from 1,300-5,000 rpm.

This is a strong, smooth and linear engine with a lovely exhaust note and enough grunt to make the 2,173-kg X5 feel pretty fleet. Fuel economy is a claimed 12.1 L/100 km city and 8.3 L/100 km hwy, although on this frigid week I saw a combined 13.5 L/100 km.

How cold was it? Well, my dog is still stuck to the hydrant. Try minus 40 with the wind chill.

Nonetheless, the X5’s cabin warmed up quickly as did the heated seats. Couldn’t say that for the Range Rover Sport HSE I had a couple of weeks ago. And of course, once you’ve experienced a heated steering wheel in these conditions you realize it stands head and shoulders above just about any other human accomplishment.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i. Click image to enlarge

Back-seat passengers in this tester enjoyed heated posteriors as well courtesy of the $5,500 Premium Package that also included universal remote control, manual side sunshades, proximity key, four-zone climate control, ambient lighting, navigation, surround view, head-up display SiriusXM tuner and Harman/Kardon audio, that here was upgraded to a $4,900 Bang and Olufsen system.

The $3,800 Technology Package added Active LED headlamps, LED fog lights, high beam assist, blind spot detection plus lane departure and collision warning.

Avoid the $800 aluminum running boards that do nothing other than soil your pant legs when getting out.

Further bolstering this tester’s the bottom line was the $850 Connected Drive Services group that adds Advanced Real Time Traffic Info (ARTTI), BMW online concierge and remote services, internet hub along with a host of connectivity and smartphone apps.

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