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2011 BMW X5 Preview

2011 BMW X5 Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2010
2011 BMW X5 xDrive50iCritical Knowledge:
  • Minor facelift, front and rear
  • New base 6-cylinder turbocharged engine
  • New 8-speed automatic transmission on two engines
  • New exterior colors and body-colored plastic
  • New interior upholstery choices
  • Production starts in April 2010
Introduction
The first-generation X5, one decade ago, redefined the premium sport utility segment. In a move counter to the rest of the industry, BMW called its first luxury SUV a "Sport Activity Vehicle" (SAV). It was a direct reference to its engineering design of premium handling, performance, efficiency, practicality and versatility over more traditional SUVs with their heavy off-road capabilities. The early X5 carried up to 5 passengers in sophisticated luxury. It offered full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) for control during inclement weather and car-like handling. Completely redesigned in 2007, the second-generation BMW X5 was slightly larger and addressed the limited cabin space of the previous model as it offered optional seating for up to 7 passengers. The engine choices remained either 6- or 8-cylinder powerplants. In 2009, BMW changed the nomenclature ("xDrive" was added to the name) and added a brand-new diesel powerplant under the hood of the X5 xDrive 35d.

The BMW X5 lineup is overhauled again for the 2011 model year, with a new turbocharged 6-cylinder engine, new 8-speed automatic transmission, and a facelift inspired by the bodywork on the sporty enthusiast-tuned X5 M. Inside the cabin, the leather upholstery is now offered in Oyster or Cinnamon Brown colors and the accent trim offerings have been expanded. Set to debut at the 2010 New York Auto Show, the 2011 BMW X5 begins production in April 2010.

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2011 BMW X5 xDrive40dModel Lineup
Four different BMW X5 models are offered for 2011: X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive50i, X5 xDrive35d and the enthusiast-oriented X5 M. The X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive50i and X5 M all feature gasoline-powered engines, while the X5 xDrive 35d utilizes a diesel powerplant.

All models offer a full complement of power accessories as standard equipment. Automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system are found on all models. The 8-cylinder X5 xDrive50i SAV offers even more standard features, including self-leveling rear springs, upgraded leather upholstery and special distinguishing exterior trim. In addition to the creature comforts, the flagship X5 M is fitted with standard 20-inch wheels, performance-tuned suspension, heavily-bolstered sport seats and unique instrumentation.

Several option packages are available on the 2011 BMW X5 models. The Premium package offers a universal garage door opener, auto-dimming mirrors, lumbar support, ambient lighting package, BMW Assist with Bluetooth and a power tailgate. The Sport package adds larger wheels and tires, 3-spoke sport steering wheel, AdaptiveDrive, Active Roll Stabilization and Electronic Damping Control, sport seats and an Anthracite headliner. A Technology package includes a rearview camera, Park Distance Control, Voice Command and a DVD-based navigation system with real-time traffic information. The Cold Weather package includes heated front seats, heated steering wheel, ski bag, headlight washers and new heated rear seats. Stand-alone options include Sirius satellite radio, HD radio, head-up display, third-row seating and upgraded leather upholstery. Standard wheels are 18-inch aluminum alloy. Nineteen-inch wheels are optional on the xDrive35i and xDrive35d, while the xDrive50i model offers optional 20-inch wheels with performance tires-in similar fashion to the standard wheels on the X5 M.

2011 BMW X5Hardware
The 2011 BMW X5 is offered with a choice of four different engines. The standard engine in the X5 xDrive35i is a new single-turbo "N55" 3.0-liter inline-6 rated at 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque (even though it carries the same power ratings, it is different from the twin-turbo "N54" 3.0-liter inline-6 used in the X6 and 3 Series). The new 6-cylinder engine propels the xDrive35i to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, says BMW. The xDrive50i continues with the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 400 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque (reportedly good for a 5.3-second sprint to 60 mph). Both standard gasoline engines are mated to an all-new 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.

The xDrive35d-the sole diesel variant-is fitted with a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder powerplant, rated at 265 horsepower and 425 lb.-ft. of torque (according to BMW, it will sprint to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds). The diesel engine is mated to BMW's 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Fuel efficiency numbers have not been released for the two turbocharged gasoline engines, but the EPA fuel-economy ratings for the xDrive35d are 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

The flagship X5 M features a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 engine rated at 555 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed M Sport automatic transmission with adaptive transmission control (ATC) and both sport and manual shift modes. According to BMW, the X5 M rockets to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds-besting many smaller sports cars.

Standard on all X5 models-regardless of the engine choice-is BMW's xDrive, a full-time AWD system that electronically varies front/rear torque split and traction control to offer optimal traction and control under varied road conditions. The X5 features a fully independent suspension engineered for driving dynamics and agility on paved roads, according to BMW. (The X5 is not designed for heavy off-road use; therefore it is not equipped with a transmission "low range" or a locking differential.) Disc brakes with anti-lock control are standard on all models.

2011 BMW X5Safety
In addition to 3-point safety belts and active head restraints, BMW equips all 2011 X5 models with a driver and front passenger front air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with advanced technology dual-threshold and dual-stage deployment. A front- and rear-compartment Head Protection System (HPS) "curtain air bag" helps to protect outboard passengers from injury, while a rollover sensor deploys air bags in the event of a rollover. For additional protection, a battery safety terminal is designed to cut off electrical power in a severe collision. Standard active safety features in every 2011 BMW X5 include anti-lock brakes (ABS), dynamic stability control (DSC) with Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Brake Control and Hill Descent Control (HDC).

Technology
Debuting for the first time under the hood of a BMW SUV (it first debuted on the 5 Series Gran Turismo and 760Li Sedan in the fall of 2009) is the company's new 8-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is standard equipment on both turbocharged standard gasoline models (the X5 M is fitted with a 6-speed automatic). Replacing the 6-speed automatic, yet weighing the same as its predecessor, the 8-speed transmission offers closer ratios in the lower gears to improve acceleration and two additional "tall" gears to lower engine speeds for relaxed and efficient highway cruising. To improve driver control, BMW has fitted the cockpit with a console-mounted shifter with the option of manual control. The operator is able to choose from three shifting patterns (Drive, Drive Sport and Manual) to suit driving style and road conditions. In manual mode, the shifter is pushed forward to downshift, and pulled rearward to upshift. The transmission's "Park" mode is engaged by depressing the "P" button on the top of the shifter or by pushing the engine's "Start-Stop" button on the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel.

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