You don’t mess with success. So when you’re BMW and you have such a stellar sales performer as the X5 sport-ute, you don’r risk messing it up.
Hence the 2014 X5, that hits showrooms late Fall, makes big strides in terms of technology and puts a sharper focus on being even more the ultimate driving SUV.
The one disappointment? It kinda looks just like the last one.
Of course, to the trained eye there are huge visual changes. That broad-set kidney grille is considerably bigger, more upright and now extends all the way to the new headlights.
And those trademark quad headlights, ringed by brighty-whitey LED accent rings, are now flatter along the bottom edge, and overlap at their top. Details, details.
At the rear, again it’s a case of evolution rather than revolution, though the new giant, hockey-stick-shaped LED taillights are going to look like Vegas by night.
The real substance comes beneath that new, 200-pound skinnier body. For starters, this new X5 will be available, for the first time, with just rear-wheel drive. After years of touting the handling benefits of all- wheel-drive for a sporty SUV, they’re now giving enthusiasts what they want.
But it’ll only be offered with one engine choice – the base 3.0-liter 300 horsepower twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder that’s coupled to a new eight-speed automatic.
For V8 lovers, there’s still the choice of the much-loved 4.4-liter twin- turbo which continues to crank out a feisty 445 horseys and muscular 480 lb-ft of torque. And all-wheel-drive is the only option here.
For diesel fans, early next year will see the return of a diesel X5, powered by a 3.0-liter oil burner packing 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque.
But as is BMW’s way, the badging off these three models is an absolutely alphabet soup of numbers and letters. The new rear-drive 3.0-liter is badged X5 sDrive35i, the V8 is X5 xDrive50i, and the new diesel is X5 xDrive35d. Pay attention, there’ll be a written test later.
For this new X5, BMW has really ramped-up its focus on handling. If the firm base suspension isn’t sporty enough, you can opt for adjustable dampers, or an M Sport suspension package, or the ultimate Dynamic Handling package which includes an active roll system.
Inside, the cabin has been nicely re-jigged. There’s now third-row seating available, plus the gear selector has been moved on to the center console where it belongs.
One especially cool feature that’ll be available from December is Traffic Jam Assistant. This not only controls the X5’s speed during stop-start traffic, but it also keeps it centered in its lane.
There’s no word on pricing yet, but don’t expect it to deviate too far from the current line-up. Again, you don’t mess with success.