2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d first drive review: Upgraded diesel, new rear-drive X5 featured in next-gen Bimmer SUV

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d

Lay into the throttle and the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d lunges off the line, its 3.0-liter turbodiesel making sounds tuned to a more gasoline motor timbre than the smoky clatter of its oil-burning heritage. A diesel engine has been part of BMW’s full-size SUV lineup since 2010, and it stays aboard as the third generation of the BMW X5 arrives in the fourth quarter 2013.

Actually, not quite. The diesel won’t be in showrooms until the first quarter 2014, but close enough.

The 2014 BMW X5 keeps with the winning formula as it enters the next era, as well it should, as it comprises a third of BMW sales worldwide—all of which are made in BMW’s plant in South Carolina. BMW’s SUV—although BMW insists it’s an SAV, or Sport Activity Vehicle—will see no significant change in underpinnings.

 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d dash

Multi-information display on 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d dash does not retract even though it looks like it might. (click to englarge)

The suspension’s Dynamic Handling Package, however, gains Dynamic Performance Control and also includes Active Roll Stabilization to keep the X5 level going around corners. Dynamic Damper Control and a rear-axle air suspension are also included in the Dynamic Handling Package and also as part of M Sport in the X5, but with more sports-oriented suspension tuning.

New to the lineup is a rear-drive version of the X5, the sDrive35i. Like the continuing X5 x35i, it’s powered by BMW’s 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo inline-6 engine which has its maximum output of 300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, with max 300 lb-ft torque spread from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm.

The 4.4-liter V-8 engine in the current X5 xDrive50i continues but was given a power boost.  The V-8, with its turbochargers tucked in the vee between the banks of the V-8, doesn’t change, but it  gains BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve timing and now booms out a maximum 445 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm (up by 45 horses). Torque plateaus at 480 lb-ft between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm (an increase of  30 lb-ft over its predecessor).

 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d cargo area

The 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d cargo area has an adjustable tie-down system but the rear seatbacks don’t fold flat. (click to enlarge)

The name continues on the BMW xDrive35d for 2014 but its diesel engine is all new. The 3.0-liter engine uses BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology—with two inlets on a single turbo for more responsive turbo boost—and is rated at 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, the latter spread over 1,500 to 3,000 rpm. That’s down a smidge from its predecessor but the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d should go 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in about 6.9 seconds, which keeps it right at the outgoing diesel’s time.

The changes under the metal are capped with exterior styling that looks rather like its predecessor, at least until they’re parked side by side. Then the 2014, has a sleeker but wider look, thanks in part to its BMW heritage quad headlights having a lowered brow, giving it a more purposeful visage compared to its more wide-eyed forebear. The twin-kidney grille of the new X5 has also gained a forward tilt, like those of the new generation BMW automobiles.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35

The in-line six-cylinder turbodiesel engine fits neatly under the hood of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d. (click to enlarge)

The lines are more streamlined overall, and the 2014 X5 models gain BMW’s new aerodynamics tricks. Vertical slits at either end of the X5’s lower front apron send air to “Air Curtains,” which direct air out and around the front wheels, forming an aero dam reducing turbulence around the tires and wheels to decrease aerodynamic drag. On the back side of the wheel opening and exiting through the front fenders are “Air Breathers,” also reducing drag.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d

Altogether, the changes to the 2014 BMW X5’s body have produced a remarkable coefficient of drag of .31, as sleek as many cars, and a contributor to the X5’s high fuel economy numbers, from 19 city/27 highway mpg for the 2014 BMW X5 sDrive35i through 18/27  mpg for the all wheel-drive diesel-powered X5 xDrive35d. The latter was borne out by our mixed driving in the low 20s miles per gallon.

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