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Joined: 22 Aug 1999
Location: Seattle, WA USA
|Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:26 am Post subject: X5 Diesel
|Since BMW is selling the X5 Diesel in the USA now, I thought I'd link to a bunch of reviews of it for future reference.
I'd like to buy a 2010 model in 2012 or 2013.
If you've got your heart set on a BMW X5, think about the diesel version for fuel economy and great driving range. With the proper options, there are few vehicles better suited for all-seasons long-distance driving when you've got a lot of stuff to carry and two kids in the second row. The diesel version is more powerful and almost as refined, most of the time, as the gasoline version. A diesel beats a hybrid for highway mileage. The base price is high and options prices are high, but so is the resale value.
Two years ago we named the just-redesigned 2007 BMW X5 our Digital Drive Car of the Year for its outstanding array of technology, led by a 10-megabit FlexRay bus that links the suspension parts. FlexRay is so quick, when the front wheels encounter a bump, they can message the rear suspension to adapt. The technology remains superb with two exceptions: The options cost a lot, even by the lofty pricing German automakers apply, and the test car's iDrive controller is BMW's previous generation that's too hard to use.
Powerful, Efficient, Mostly Quiet Diesel
BMW brought low-emissions diesels to the U.S. market in the 2009 BMW 335d, the 3 Series compact sedan; and the BMW X5 xDrive35d, the medium-to-full-size SUV, or sports activity vehicle, as BMW calls it. There's a $3,700 upcharge on the X5 compared to the six-cylinder gasoline engine, offset by an $1,800 diesel tax credit available to most buyers. The engine starts immediately with no smoke, virtually no diesel smell, and only a bit of clatter that's more pronounced on colder mornings. It's more perceptible outside than inside. It's more perceptible in the X5 than in the 335d with the same engine. It's gone once you pass 30 mph.
In a week of mostly highway driving with the X5, I averaged 27 mpg in highway driving, 24 mpg overall. Combined with the big fuel tank, you can approach 600 miles of highway driving; in city driving, a typical driver might go two-plus weeks without needing to refuel, and that's an appreciated small luxury. Diesel fuel now costs less, on average, than regular unleaded gasoline, and since BMWs burn premium gasoline, you're ahead by 10 cents to 30 cents a gallon (on average, since there are places where diesel and premium are priced about the same).
It's hard to make an economic case for the BMW X5 diesel if you're open to multiple brands of upscale SUVs, especially when the similar Acura MDX costs $9,000 less, similarly equipped, and also has good residual values. But if you've got BMW fever - and enough people do that BMW is now the No. 1 seller of luxury/sports vehicles in the U.S. - then you can probably make back the diesel cost premium in about four years compared to a gas-engine X5 with the same equipment. It would be a long time to get back the cost premium over a gas-engine Acura MDX. If you're into transportation without regard to brand, there's the Mazda CX-9 crossover priced even less than the Acura MDX. And the Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Sportwagen I recently drove has all the cargo capacity of the X5, 42 mpg highway rating, fewer creature comforts, reasonable navigation, more music options, free satellite radio, and a pricetag around $30,000.
Base price of the X5 diesel is $52,025, including shipping, and runs to $75,570 fully optioned, $82,065 if you add one of the fancy wheel packages from the dealer. Outfitted for long-distance touring, you're looking at around $65,000.
BMW-HUD.jpgOptions for the Long-Distance Tourer
The similarly sized Acura MDX has a couple of well-chosen option packages. The BMW X5 has dozens of packages and options and a couple make the X5 a great vehicle for long-distance driving. My test X5 came with a head-up display, $1,200, that projects only the most important information onto the base of the windshield such as speed, navigation arrows, the cruise control setting, and the check controls light. That's all the info you need for most of your trip; Acura doesn't have one. The HUD would also show settings for the active cruise control system that's not currently available on the X5; ACC paces the car in front of you without exceeding a pre-set cruise control limit. Also not available yet on the X5 is lane departure warning (BMW offers that on other models) and blind spot detection.
The Technology Package, $2,600, is a must: navigation, real-time traffic information, parking sonar, and a backup camera. The navigation system works well. But BMW navigation is easier to program on cars with the more current iDrive. The Sport Package, $3,700, is adjustable to provide the best ride as well as the sportiest ride.
If you drive long distances, you'll appreciate the option for active ventilation and comfort seats. Active ventilation blows cool air through the seat cushions. It's great on hot days and helps keep you alert on long trips. While air is free in the great outdoors, BMW charges you $2,100 for the active ventilation fans that blow air freely through the perforated leather seats. The comfort seat moves the seat halves (under your left and right legs) up and down, slowly, in small amounts. Use it and your butt never falls asleep. Unfortunately on the X5 it's a driver-only option.
Costly Entertainment Options (iPod Jack Costs More than an iPod)
You know you'll pay a lot for a high-end Japanese or German car. (See below for the particulars on this model.) BMW socks it to the buyer who appreciates entertainment. And you want lots of entertainment and communications options for long trips:
Premium Sound Package, $1,850. A six-disc changer and more speakers, including subwoofers under the seats in unused space. The sound really is better. The changer is wasted on most buyers.
Smartphone Integration, $150. This lets you charge an iPhone, Blackberry, or similar device, and control it from the steering wheel or voice control.
HD radio, $350. On current BMWs with the most recent in-dash computer and navigation, HD Radio is standard because BMW added one small chipset.
iPod and USB adapter, $400. BMW provides a connector for more than you paid for your iPod. The control of your music through the dash controls is good, though.
Rear seat entertainment, $1,700. You get a DVD player and a single screen on the rear of the center console. For the same money, a good independent car AV installer (don't scrimp here) could install a DVD player, iPod video jacks, and two LCD displays in the headrests.
Satellite radio with one-year subscription, $595. Cars that cost half as much include satellite radio for free. BMW points out you get an entire year of service, not just 30 or 90 days, as if BMW's paying anywhere close to the $150 list price for a year of Sirius.
Bluetooth and BMW Assist, $700 (standalone) or $3,400 (part of the Premium Package). BMW's Bluetooth is about as sophisticated and compatible as can be had (Bluetooth may be a standard, Bluetooth compatibility varies widely). The BMW Assist telematics and Mayday calling service covers four years and has the industry's most advanced accident diagnostics. In severe crashes, it has the potential to tell 911 call centers that ambulances should be dispatched immediately, or even a med-evac helicopter. (Usually the cops come, then decide on an ambulance, maybve a helicopter.) Some of the lifesaving capability is down the road and awaits an upgrade to call centers and a mandate from the government to the effect of: If your BMW says an escalated response is needed, do it.
BMW hints that as it advances its electronics, more technology will be integrated and made standard, such as HD Radio is on other BMWs. The iPod adapter, satellite radio, and Bluetooth all could be integrated for just a few dollars. It can't come too soon.
bmwsite.jpgThe BMW website was rated slightly below average in the most recent J.D. Power website survey, but regardless, it's also much improved. In years past, BMW's excess of options and packages required so many tabs and drilldowns that buyers missed some choices that spilled to second pages. That's fixed. And if you pick a standalone option, BMW often offers an upsell: For only X-dollars more, you get this option and these others. Some will find it helpful, others annoying. BMWUSA.com moves a lot of bits per screen to your PC and if you're on only a moderately fast line, it can seem slow. Sometimes you have to click precisely to get to the next level; BMW doesn't leave a lot of room for mousing errors. Also, the section for owners remains a remote backwater with little of value.
Should You Buy?
Other cars give you most of the luxury and some provide much of the performance of a BMW for a lot less. In particular, the Acura MDX is a better value. Lexus sells a lot more RX350s, but if you want BMW handling, Lexus will disappoint. For about the same price, the Mercedes-Benz GL320 has a more refined diesel engine. If the X5 is what you want, consider the diesel, and also consider the options list carefully. James R. Healey, auto writer for USA Today, said it best with his BMW X5 diesel review zinger: "You can add $30,000 in options if lowering your net worth raises your self worth."
Were I shopping, I'd go for the diesel over the gasoline X5 and take the premium package (try buying a BMW without one), the technology package, the head-up display, and probably the comfort seats with active ventilation (knowing it's a lot of money). I'd leave off the $1,700 third row seats because the X5 isn't big enough) and the keyless entry comfort access system that seems overpriced at $1,000. Xenon lights are standard, so no extra charge there. You'll probably want one of the options offering leather seats. Otherwise, vinyl is standard; cloth is not available in the U.S.
On the audio/communication side, I'd check most of the options boxes, grudgingly: premium audio, iPod / USB adapter, smartphone integration, satellite radio (very grudgingly), but perhaps not HD Radio because at $350, it's overpriced by $350.
Back Seat Fit for a Pope
The back seat is okay-to-good but not great for adults. BMW built an X5 special for Pope Benedict XVI, but then he's only 5-foot-7, a bit more if he's wearing a hat. A car this upscale really should be six inches longer, half going to rear seat legroom, half going to the cargo bay. If you do carry rear seat passengers, then get the rear seat climate control and either BMW's rear entertainment or, better, have a good audio shop install one. (Not likely if you lease the X5 because dealers frown on modifications.)
What I would really do is wait to see if the 2010 X5 comes with the improved iDrive system (it would have four function buttons just forward of the iDrive controller) and the free HD Radio if you get navigation. Else I'd look for a used 2007 or 2008 X5 (2006 is the old model), which means gasoline-only. Much as I'm enamored of diesel engines for efficient long-distance driving, you shouldn't pay new car prices for a dashboard interface that's a generation old.
Bottom Line: Nothing Drives Like, Few Cost Like a BMW
The X5 xDrive35d is an expensive SUV that is economical to run on the highway, not an economy SUV. The X5 diesel is an awesome way to travel long distances. You buy a BMW is because it's a blast to drive every day you get behind the wheel. For that, you don't need to do a break-even calculation.
Sidebar: How a $51K Car Passes $75K
Here's how you can increase the sticker price of a BMW by 50%.Add in a pair of BMW alloy wheel upgrades at the dealership and you're talking $82K.
Base MSRP, $51,200
Active ventilated seat package, $2,100
Cold Weather Package, $1,250
Premium Package, $3,400
Premium Sound Package, $1,850
Rear Climate Package, $900
Sport Package, $3,700
Technology Package, $2,600
Comfort Access system, $1,000
Head-up Display, $1,200
Nappa Leather Dashboard and Center Console, $1,900
Running boards, $300
Smartphone Integration, $150
HD radio, $350
iPod and USB adapter, $400
Rear seat entertainment, $1,700
Satellite radio with 1 year subscription, $595
Space-saver spare, $150
Destination & Handling, $825
Total MSRP, $75,570
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Joined: 22 Aug 1999
Location: Seattle, WA USA
|Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:37 am Post subject:
2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d - Short Take Road Test
The X5 remains sporty even with a diesel engine.
BY DAVID GLUCKMAN, PHOTOGRAPHY BY JORDAN BROWN AND PATRICK M. HOEY
Pages: 1 Photos
2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
* Photos (4
Highs and Lows
Highs: So many torques, sunbathing glass roof.
Lows: One-second countdown to full thrust, diesel fuel is still smelly, really long and incomprehensible badge.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED: $68,520 (base price: $52,025)
ENGINE TYPE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve diesel inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183 cu in, 2993cc
Power (SAE net): 265 bhp @ 4200 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 425 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Wheelbase: 115.5 in Length: 191.1 in Width: 76.1 in Height: 69.9 in Curb weight: 5183 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 6.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 20.1 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 35.9 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 7.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.2 sec @ 90 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.82 g
EPA city/highway driving: 19/26 mpg
C/D observed: 20 mpg
There’s love at first sight, and then sometimes it can take a second. With this diesel BMW X5, it was the latter, since that’s the amount of time required to overcome the lag of the twin-turbo setup and for the big ute to go from a standstill to full-bore acceleration.
But the turbo lag we mention might be more specifically described as big-turbo lag. Unlike the equal-size twin turbos on BMW’s gas six- and eight-cylinder engines, the inline-six diesel—a newly available engine option for 2009—uses two differently sized turbos in an attempt to minimize lag. The smaller turbo spools up first, when exhaust flow is minimal, and the larger one takes over once exhaust flow is sufficient to spin it.
Once the turbos do their thing, the 3.0-liter inline-six produces the same 265 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque in the X5 diesel as it does in the much lighter 335d and is paired, as it is there, with a six-speed automatic transmission. The test numbers show that our impatience was unwarranted, as the X5 sprinted to 60 mph in a relatively sprightly 6.8 seconds. Compared with its gas-burning siblings, it’s closer to the time of the V-8 X5 xDrive48i (6.1 seconds) than the inline-six X5 xDrive30i (7.. As you’d expect, fuel economy was improved; we got 20 mpg in the diesel versus 18 in the gas six-cylinder and 14 in the V-8. And unlike the last time we tested an oil-burning BMW, diesel fuel is cheaper than gas, at least for now.
Our time in BMW’s biggest diesel offering included a trip across the palm of Michigan’s mitten. All the torque meant that passing power was predictably prodigious, and the transmission was smooth and always chose the right gear. We enjoyed the well-designed interior that we’ve become accustomed to via a long-term relationship with our X6 xDrive50i—the X6 and the X5 share most of their interior components and styling.
The rest of the experience is familiar to anyone who has been in an X5 or X6, so that means a pampering ride, good forward visibility, and BMW’s typically wonderful dynamics. Plus, this Bimmer had the cleanest carpets we’ve ever seen in a press car. The price came to $68,520, which included a whopping $15,000-plus in options. Aside from the aforementioned lag, some very minor diesel clatter, and the “d” at the end of the unnecessarily long xDrive35d badge, it’s tough to tell this X5 apart from the gas swillers.
The X5 xDrive35d adds a little under $4000 to the 3.0-liter gas X5’s sticker, and the models are equipped essentially identically. Four grand sounds like a lot—although that’s somewhat offset by an $1800 tax credit—especially when it could take a long time for any fuel-cost saving to recover the extra initial outlay. But then you think about the diesel’s extra swiftness, mountains of torque, long range, and pseudo-green cred, and you find yourself understanding the unique appeal of an oil burner.
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