When we first drove the BMW X5 xDrive35d, it was, well, a first-drive. And while BMW is generous with seat time on its press introductions, there’s nothing like spending quality time on our home turf to get to know a vehicle better.
And so the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d. The X5 is BMW’s large sport-utility vehicle—or as BMW calls it, an SAV, for sport-activity vehicle. Because BMW. Whatever, it’s the original such vehicle from BMW, since joined by the smaller BMW X3 and BMW X1.
As those familiar with BMW nomenclature would know, and others perhaps surmise, the little “d” stands for “diesel.” The X5 xDrive35d is powered by BMW’s ubiquitous 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel. It’s a good engine that’s been in other vehicles, notably the BMW 535d and BMW 740Ld, but this is the first time we’ve experienced it over an extended period.
It was also the first time we were able to operate the diesel in winter conditions, meaning at best a high in the mid-thirties and low temps around ten degrees. But no problems. As one might expect from a modern engine, startup was instantaneous, the only peculiarity being a slight and momentary whiff of aroma d’ diesel. It was faint enough for us to question our olfactory acuity, but we sensed it more than once, and only—and always—when the engine was fully cold-soaked.
Diesel rattle, the distinctive hammering sound of a diesel engine, was also evident on cold startups, though only from outside. And once warmed, the engine was almost as quiet as a gasoline engine. The only time it was noticeable from inside was during acceleration, during which it sounded like a BMW diesel owner would think a BMW diesel should sound, throaty and strong.
It doesn’t hurt that The BMW 3.0-liter diesel engine has an abundant torque over a wide range, cited at 300 lb-ft from 1500 rpm to 5000 rpm. In other words, is the engine running? It’s making torque.
The BMW X5 xDrive35d is no flyweight, however. At 4,790 lbs, that’s a lot for 300 lb-ft to work with, and although the X5 xDrive35d comes off the line hard, it doesn’t build like the way an X5 xDrive50i would. It still bulls its way up to speed—BMW says 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, or about the same as the V-6 gas engine—but it’s not a rompin’-stompin’ rootin’-tootin’ rocket. Just sayin’.
On the other hand—and the other hand is one heck of a paw—in mixed driving, in a hilly area, in mostly freezing temperatures, we recorded overall fuel mileage of 23.5 miles per gallon. Again, that’s for a 4,790 lb vehicle. The EPA estimate is 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg highway. Considering conditions, the EPA numbers aren’t too far off.
And if you have something to pull, the tow rating of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d is 6,000 lbs.
The X5 xDrive35d comes standard with auto stop/start, but with temperatures below freezing, it doesn’t go into effect, the engine continuing to run when the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light. When it was warmer, the system worked like it is supposed to.
Of course, that kind of mileage doesn’t come cheap wrapped in a BMW X5 xDrive35d. Our tester had a base price of $56,600, and by the time the BMW option fairies had finished dusting vehicle with accessory dust, the bottom line had soared BMW-like to $75,900. But then, one doesn’t buy a BMW X5 xDrive35d as an economy vehicle. Even the base BMW X5 sDrive35i (rear drive) starts at $53,900 and goes up (and up) from there. We’d put three grand into upgrading the base X5 to the diesel and pocket the extra fuel mileage.
At least after spending a week with the BMW X5 xDrive35d.
Specifications and window sticker next page.