2011 BMW X5 Review


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2011 BMW X5 Overview

You'll pay a premium for the 2011 BMW X5 luxury crossover SUV, but its more powerful engines and styling updates will likely still interest buyers who want great handling and power with decent capacity and quality interior appointments. All trims come with BMW xDrive, the company's proprietary all-wheel drive system.

It may be hard to distinguish the new edition from previous model years, but the foglights have moved toward the center, and it has more body-colored trim elements. The rear bumper and tailpipes have also been redesigned.

Likely of more interest to prospective buyers are stronger engines and a smoother eight-speed automatic compared to previous years' six-speed transmission. The base 2011 BMW X5 trim, the xDrive35i, has an inline six-cylinder engine with a single turbocharger that provides 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to propel the 2011 BMW X5 to 60 mph from a standstill in roughly 6.5 seconds.

You can also opt for a diesel engine in the xDrive35d trim that mates a six-cylinder powertrain with twin turbos. Its 0-60 time is about 7 seconds, but it also offers the lineup's best mileage, with a 19/26 mpg city/highway split. For more power, opt for the xDrive50i, with a 400-horsepower V8 that offers sub-5.5-second 0-60 times.

Moving inside, BMW's hallmark iDrive system remains in the center console, but is larger for easier visibility for the driver and front occupant. It's gotten a bit less complicated with a number of shortcuts, but reviewers still find it an acquired taste to operate the stereo and climate control systems.

The air conditioning and heating are dual-zone, and the back seat benefits from leatherette upholstery, a 12-speaker sound system, and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players in the base xDrive35i. Go up to the xDrive35i Premium and you can add larger wheels, at 19 inches, tinted glass, real leather, and a direct iPod interface. Finally, the Sports Activity trim offers the same roof rails as the Premium package, along with 20-inch wheels and a sportier steering wheel and seats.

A surfeit of safety features are included for occupants of the 2011 BMW X5, including front and side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags for all occupants, as well as ABS, traction control and an electronic stability system. The last two work hand-in-hand with the xDrive system, which already works to shift power as needed while driving.

Finally, if those power numbers and handling descriptions seem a bit bland, buyers can also opt for the X5 M, the performance version of the luxury crossover. Its power comes from a twin-turbo V8 making 555 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. That propels the lowered SUV to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.5 seconds. The look is more sporting as well, with special bumpers, side sills, and seats to keep occupants planted during aggressive handling. It's also the only 2011 X5 trim level to shunt power to the outside rear wheel during cornering.

The 2011 BMW X5 seems poised for a place in the luxury crossover niche for people who want their SUVs to handle well and retain performance numbers, even if the overall package is more akin to an SUV than a sports car. There may be better options for those needing more storage capacity, but few offer a comparable driving experience.


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