May 15, 2014
2013 BMW X5 xDrive35d. Click image to enlarge
Article by Justin Pritchard
Autos.ca staff has been busy driving the latest versions of some of the market’s most popular posh-utes for our most recent comparison test – though your writer was confined to his desk to investigate the machines in question, as used buys, one generation out. While Jeff, Jacob and Lesley were out driving the latest and greatest from Lexus, BMW, Infiniti, Porsche and others, I kept busy scouring owners forums and owner review sites to see how these machines might fare as a used buy if picking up a brand-spanking new copy isn’t in the cards.
Note that the Infiniti QX60h isn’t on the list, since there’s no previous generation to compare to. Beyond that, here’s what I’ve come up with for shoppers considering any of these machines as a used buy.
2007 to 2013 BMW X5
The Draw: The so-called E70 X5 hit the road for model-year 2007 packing a world-class list of available feature content – including luxury SUV must-haves like premium audio, Bluetooth, navigation, power everything, a panoramic sunroof, wood trim, push-button start, xenon lights and more. Look for two or three seating rows, standard xDrive AWD, an available M-Sport package for fancy handling, and a range of six or eight-cylinder engines, including turbocharged versions thereof. Available horsepower peaked at 400, depending on the year.
Owners rated styling, confidence and a sense of performance highly, complaining most commonly about the lack of a spare tire and learning curve to the iDrive system.
The Test Drive: Confirm proper operation from all windows, locks and the power tailgate, if equipped. Ditto the sunroof. Ensure no warning lights or messages are present in the instrument cluster and triple-check the navigation, Bluetooth and climate control systems for functionality. Run the climate control through all settings.
A battery and charging system check, as well as a scan of the X5’s computer brain should be considered mandatory to ensure you’re not about to sink tens of thousands on a model full of electrical gremlins. Apparently, various sensors, modules and computers tend to get fussy when they don’t’ have enough voltage – possibly because of a weak battery. Consider a trickle charger to prevent such nuisances if your X5 will be parked for extended periods.
Scrutinize the cooling system for leaky radiators, hoses, and dribbles. Puddles of coolant beneath the vehicle are another bad sign. A sweet, burning smell can indicate a potentially-unseen coolant leak, too. And hopefully it’s not the dreaded valley leak between the cylinder banks on the non-turbo V8, which is pricey to fix.
Have a mechanic go over the X5’s suspension system, especially if you notice any popping, clunking or other unwelcomed sounds from beneath on a test-drive. Buy from a CPO program and opt for extended warranty for maximum confidence.
2010 to 2012 Lexus RX
The Draw: The Lexus RX lineup helped kicked off the luxury crossover SUV scene some generations ago – and the 2010 to 2012 iteration of the best-seller has now moved into used vehicle territory. Key draws were the available hybrid drive system, an excellent reputation, and proven residual values. All models got a 3.5L V6, making 275 horsepower in conventional models or netting 295 horsepower when teamed up with batteries and motors in the hybrid, which was called the RX h. Feature content in the five-seat model included automatic or motorized everything, navigation, Mark Levinson audio, a Bluetooth interface, climate-controlled seats and plenty more. All models got AWD and an automatic transmission
Owners liked the RX’s sense of practical luxury, well-appointed cabin, flexibility and all-around comfort. Common complaints included the lack of available third-row seating and a limited amount of at-hand storage.
2012 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge
The Test Drive: Start with a walk-around of your potential used RX candidate, checking the condition of the wheels, checking that both xenon projector headlamps illuminate, and ensuring the front bumper is properly attached at the edges and lines up with the panels adjacent to it.
Double check for proper operation of the intelligent key system, all windows and the climate control system.
Ensure the RX you’re considering hasn’t been pre-warmed ahead of your test-drive. Insist on starting the engine cold and listening for any loud ticking or knocking sound as it idles after start up. Though inconclusive, some owners have reported this issue.
Hesitation or hunting during gear shifting on the automatic transmission may be remedied by reprogramming the transmission’s computer brain.
Have the RX you’re considering inspected for standard signs of fluid leakage, rust, suspension wear, sporadic power delivery or warning lights as well. Reliability issues pertaining to the RX Hybrid are somewhat difficult to nail down online because of relatively low sales volumes.
Shoppers are advised against purchase of a Lexus hybrid without having all system components inspected and scanned electronically by a Lexus mechanic.