Share This Article


This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 15, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz


In model year 2000, BMW joined the growing number of manufacturers offering a sport utility vehicle for sale to get their piece of the pie in this hot-selling segment of the industry. With their reputation for building 'the ultimate driving machine' BMW had to design and engineer, from the ground up, a vehicle that would keep their storied tradition of excellence in power and handling, but it would also have to offer the versatility and roominess that drives so many consumers to choose a sport utility vehicle over a sedan or station wagon. BMW designers and engineers decided to aim for an 'all-activity vehicle' to differentiate it from the standard SUV. The vehicle would have more performance on the hard pavement and less off-road capability. You couldn't go and carve out your own off-road trails with 20-inch tires and wheels, but you could successfully transverse hard packed sand. What percentage off 4x4 sport utility vehicles actually go off road anyway? It is not very high during a year of driving. Most owners say they purchased a sport utility for the higher ride height with a more commanding view of the road, along with the roominess, versatile interior, and trailer towing ability.

When it first came onto the market in late 1999, the X5 was offered with either a 3.0-liter I-6 engine making 225 hp or a 4.4-liter V8 generating 315 hp. In late 2004, BMW offered a new, 4.8-liter V8 that increased horsepower to 355 hp and 360 lbs. ft. of torque. Other major changes made late last year included a new, freshened front fascia/rear taillight treatment, a new 6-speed automatic, a new xDrive AWD system, adaptive XENON HID headlamps, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Today, the BMW X5 is 2-1/2 tons of speed, performance, comfort and prestige. Its 5.9-second 0-60 mph acceleration time is faster than most cars, and it has a top speed of 150 mph. Its steering is precise, and the giant 20-inch wheels and tires only add to the exceptional cornering grip. Inside, the X5 is roomy, comfortable and offers all the bells, whistles and high-tech features found inside the premium luxury sedans. The X5's gorgeous styling is uniquely BMW, with an aggressive front fascia featuring a front bumper with an upper portion in the body color, and a lower section in matte black with protective screens behind the air intakes. The hood contours are more pronounced and include wide, stylish, dual air vents near the windshield cowl. The traditional BMW dual kidney grille is widened and set higher. The headlight clusters are newly shaped and now include adaptive Xenon HID headlamps. Strong nozzle sprayers mounted on the bumpers, on each side, help to clear mud and other debris from the headlamp lenses. Just below these more powerful lights are round foglamps.

From the side, you notice a swept-back windshield, flared fenders, doors that are scalloped and grooved, lower side extensions, flush window glass, big door handles and a rear hatch line that cuts back into the roofline. Giant wheels and tires complete the aggressive silhouette with, up front, 20 x 9.5-inch cast alloy wheels wrapped by 275/40R20 high-performance radial tires, and in the rear, 20 x 10.5-inch cast alloy wheels wrapped by 315/35R20 high performance radials. The rear fascia features a new, wraparound taillamp treatment, swept-back hatch profile with top mounted spoiler, a step bumper, and a dual opening rear hatch with flip-up glass and drop-down tailgate. The lower rear fascia is scalloped out and features two 6 x 2-inch chrome, oval exhaust tips at each end. The small round disks on the front and rear bumpers are sensors for the front-rear parking assist, and the adaptive cruise control. The high-strength steel unit body is very stiff and torsional and all body panels are made of thick, galvanized steel sheet metal for added strength and durability. The coefficient of drag for the shape of the X5is is just 0.38. Under the skin and out of sight is the engineering brilliance of BMW. Powering the X5 is a 4.8-liter, DOHC, 32-valve (four-cam) all-aluminum V8 engine with Valvetronic variable valve lift, Double VANOS steplessly variable intake-exhaust-valve timing and steplessly variable intake system. The compression ratio is 10.5:1, and a Bosch Motronic ME engine management system is in control. This high-outpoint V8 engine makes 355 hp at 6,200 rpm and 360 lbs. ft of torque at just 3,400 rpm.

Mated to this powerful V8 is a ZF type H, six-speed Steptronic system with an adaptive automatic transmission control, including sport and manual modes. The all-wheel-drive xDrive system features an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch for variable front/rear torque split depending upon road and driving conditions, and all-wheel electronic traction control. The X5is has a towing capacity of 6,000 lbs. The unique, fully independent, sport-tuned suspension system gives you on-road high-performance speed and handling ability with medium off-road capability. You can choose from three ride heights: low, for ease of entry and exit; medium, for high-speed cruising or spirited handling exercises; and high, when driving over dirt, sand, rocks, mud or water. The BMW X5is front suspension features struts, double-pivot lower arms, twin-tube gas-pressure shock absorbers, and roll bar and air springs for the adjustable ride height. The rear setup includes a 4-link integral suspension with aluminum integral link, forward upper lateral arms & wheel carrier, steel lower & upper lateral links, twin-tube gas-pressure shock absorbers, air springs, and anti-roll bar. The engine-speed sensitive, variable power assist, rack & pinion steering felt great with a very good on-center feel and excellent feedback from the road. Stability is enhanced with BMW's dynamic stability control (DSC) that includes electronic brake proportioning, ABS, dynamic brake control, cornering/braking stability enhancement & Hill Descent Control. The brakes are very strong-14in. vented discs in front clamped with big, twin-piston calipers, and 12.8-inch vented rear vented discs clamped with big single-piston calipers. The inside of the X5 is roomy, comfortable, ergonomic, luxurious and very safe. The four doors open wide for easy entry and exit, and there are grab handles above each door. The front high back, sport bucket seats are incredibly form fitting with 16 different adjustments including an articulated power adjustable upper seatback and four-position lumbar adjustments. The seats are trimmed in soft Dakota leather and heated. The rear seats are also heated and feature power adjustable seatbacks.

The beefy, heated/power tilting/telescoping/leather wrapped steering wheel feels perfect in your hands and features buttons for the audio system, cruise-control and accessory telephone controls. The instrument cluster is straight-ahead, easy to see and understand. Just below are LED readouts for the 8-function on-board computer, Service Interval Indicator, and warnings of failure for all of the X5is's systems. There is a three-person memory for the driver's seat, side-view mirrors and steering wheel position. All buttons, dials and control levers are within easy reach and fully illuminated. The side mirrors are heated, self-dimming and power folding. The automatic climate dual climate control features a micro-filter, air-re-circulation and rear climate control. The four power windows feature express up/down, and the doors automatically lock at 20mph. The BMW Onboard Navigation system is a $1,800.00 option. The outstanding audio system features 12 speakers, including two subwoofers, digital sound processing AM-FM stereo radio and a six-CD changer mounted in the rear cargo hold. I do think that BMW should be offering this fine stereo system with an in-dash six-CD changer. Other standard features include thick-pile carpeting in the front, second row and rear cargo hold, with front/second row floor mats held tight with Velcro strips, map lights, rear reading lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear window wiper/washer/defroster, door lights, all with theater dimming, remote entry and remote liftgate release, a giant, electric panorama moonroof, privacy glass for rear windows, side window pull-up sun shades, center console with dual-cupholders, deep center console with padded and locking lid, storage in each door, dual power points up front, in the second row seating area, behind the front center console, and in the cargo hold. The overhead panel has a button for BMW Assist for navigation question and emergency needs. Speaking of safety, that is an important part of the BMW X5, with standard three-point safety belts for all five seating positions with pretentsioners/load limiters up front, front Smart impact airbags, head protection system for the front and rear outboard seats, front/rear crush zones, steel beams in each door, an energy absorbing steering column, and optional rear seat airbags. The new 2005 BMW X5is is one of the segment's best high-performing machines. Sadly, it is not for everyone looking to purchase a mid-size sport utility, because prices start at $70,100.00. My loaded test model sticker priced at $72,975.00, which includes destination, the navigation system and the optional (yet very convenient) $380.00 Retractable Load Floor with a carpeted panel that rolls out on ball-bearing rails after you disengage the floor mounted handle.

© Test and photos by Harvey Schwartz For more information on BMW products, go to More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 BMW X5is Price of vehicle: $70,100.00 base, $72,975.00 fully loaded including destination Engine type: 4.8-liter, DOHC 32-valve (4-cam) V8 with Valvetronic variable vale lift, Double VANOS steplessly variable intake & exhaust-valve timing & steplessly variable intake system Horsepower: 355 at 6,200 rpm Torque: 360 lbs. ft. at 3,400 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/all-wheel-drive Transmission type: Six-speed automatic Steptronic with adaptive transmission control, sport and manual modes Front suspension: Independent, struts, double-pivot lower arms, twin-tube gas-pressure shocks, anti-roll bar, air-springs. Rear suspension: Independent, four-link integral suspension with aluminum integral link, forward upper lateral arms & wheel carrier, steel lower & rear upper lateral arms, air springs, twin-tube gas-pressure shocks, anti-roll bar. Wheels/tires: 20 x 9.5 front alloy wheels/275/40R20 high-performance radials; 20 x 10.5-inch rear alloy wheels/315/35R20 high-performance radials. Brakes: Front: 14-inch vented rotors, twin-piston calipers Rear: 12.8-inch vented rotors, single-piston calipers ABS, electronic brake force proportioning, dynamic brake control, Overall length: 183.7 in. Overall width: 73.7 in. Overall height: 67.2 in. Curb weight: 5,016 lbs. EPA mileage estimates: 16 mpg in the city; 21 mpg on the highway 0-60 mph: 5.9 sec.

You Might Also Like These Articles:

image of an engine bay

VIN-Verified Parts Shopping - Your Ultimate Guide

image of the 2024 Toyota Sienna

2024 Toyota Sienna

image of a person talking to police

Understanding Auto Accident Laws: A Driver's Guide

video thumbnail for the review

Review Of Tim Considine's Work On Le Mans

image of a legal library

Why Is an Automobile Injury Lawyer Essential for Your Post-Accident Compensation?