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The BMW X5 is the one that broadened the luxury sport-utility trend. Introduced for 2000 and last reworked for the 2014 model year, the X5 ranks near the top of any list of luxury-level SUVs. Little has changed for the 2017 model year, except for addition of a 10.2-inch touchscreen to the latest iDrive infotainment system.
The 2017 BMW X5 sDrive35i comes with a lusty turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that develops 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Offered with rear- or all-wheel drive, the X5 sDrive35i can reach 60 mph in just over six seconds.
Those who demand more can step up to the X5 xDrive50i, with a 445-horsepower, 4.4-liter turbo V8 that surges ahead with abundant authority. Acceleration time to 60 mph drops to 4.7 seconds.
BMW also offers the plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive40e, which couples a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine to an electric motor and battery pack, yielding combined output of 308 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Battery-only range is only 14 miles, but the plug-in hybrid earns a 58 MPGe fuel-economy rating from the EPA. With a Level 2 charger, the 9.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack may reach full charge in less than three hours.
A turbodiesel xDrive35d was available in 2015, but federal testers began examining emissions in the wake of Volkswagen’s falsification scandal. Testing was completed in summer 2016, and the turbodiesel has returned. Its 3.0-liter engine generates 255 horsepower.
In a different league entirely, the X5 M unfurls a twin-turbo V8 that generates 567 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Transmission gearing differs from the regular V8, oil pumps tolerate higher g-force, and a rear air suspension is standard.
All X5s use an 8-speed automatic transmission. An X5 can seat up to seven, but reaching the uncomfortable third row isn’t easy for grownups.
Any of three special lines may be specified. Luxury Line and xLine models add distinctive trim. The Sport option adds an aero body kit and Shadowline trim.
The X5 earned five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, except four-star for rollovers, not uncommon for tall SUVs. Good ratings came from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but only two tests have been performed: side-impact and moderate front overlap.
BMW’s big SUV offers a fine selection of safety features, but most are extra-cost options. Only the xDrive50i, for instance, has a standard rearview camera.