Biased toward paved-road performance but with a fairly capable off-road side, BMW's X5 is more than just a tall luxury wagon, even if the Germans don't want you to call it an SUV.
Updates for 2013 include a new "chrome line" exterior trim package, a new Orion Silver trim replacing the Platinum Bronze metallic, a reduction in price of the Premium Sound Package, and a renamed Luxury Seating Package. The X5 xDrive35d diesel is still on sale, but only as a 2012 model.
With rather conservative, generically masculine exterior design evidenced in the tall, chunky proportions and aggressive front-end work. Smooth lines and delicate details soften that look a bit, however, leaving the X5 somewhat middle-of-the-road. The story's much the same in the cabin.
Unlike designs that polarize, however, the X5's innocuous shape harmonizes. That is, until you get to the X5 M. With track-inspired flares and scoops, it looks every inch the super activity vehicle.
And it is. Standing at the top of the X5 range, the X5 M rates 555 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine driving all four wheels through a stout six-speed automatic. The X5 xDrive50i also combines all-wheel drive and a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, but rated at a more sane, but still potent 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The most rational X5 might be the xDrive35i, with its turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Even the least powerful X5 doesn't feel overmatched by the vehicle's bulk. An eight-speed automatic transmission is common to all non-M models.
On-road, the X5 drives and feels much like a car, if a rather large one. Off-road, the X5 isn't a go-anywhere expedition vehicle like some of the competition, but it can perform in mud, snow, gravel, inclines, and even water crossings--when driven well.
All X5s come well-equipped, and there's a huge variety of options packages and a la carte items to add. Ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory, folding/reconfigurable rear seats, dynamic cruise control, and speed-sensitive power steering are all standard. Upgrades include nappa leather, wood and metal trims for the cabin, and tech goodies like a heads-up display (HUD), active steering, and more.
As for space, the X5 won't swallow all of your gear or cargo, but it'll take most of it--along with comfortable seating for front and rear passengers.
For more details on the 2013 BMW X5, read the full review at The Car Connection