THE RIDE: Four-door, seven-passenger 2007 BMW X5 3.0si luxury SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Redesigned for 2007, the 7-year-old X5 is bigger than its predecessor in almost every respect. Its wheelbase is up by 4.5 inches, overall length by 7.4 inches, width by 2.3 inches and height by 2 inches. Also, buyers now have an option of a third-row seat. Available in two trims, 3.0si and 4.8i, the all-wheel-drive SUV is as sprightly and quick on its feet as the 2006 model.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 3.0-liter inline-6 cylinder engine packs 260 horsepower (from the previous 225 hp) at 6600 rpm and 225 pounds-feet (from the previous 214) at 2750 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which also can be shifted in manual or sport modes, the X5 can go from 0 to 60 mph in a laudable 7.8 seconds. The noticeably unwavering ride can be attributed to a front double wishbone multilink and a rear four-link integral suspension. The all-wheel-drive system delivers extra torque to the front or rear wheels, depending on road and weather conditions. Heading out into the warm waters? Haul the sailboat behind the X5, which boasts a towing capacity of 6,000 pounds. Off-road enthusiasts can take advantage of the Hill Descent Control, a standard feature.
LOOK & FEEL: The front fascia of the X5 shows off the traditional BMW twin-kidney grille with vertical slats, self-leveling Xenon adaptive headlights and an aluminum hood. The optional sand beige Nevada leather seats will leave you in awe. The third-row seat, also an option, can be reached comfortably via the sliding fore and aft 60/40 second-row seat. The three-spoke power tilt and telescoping leather steering wheel has a solid grip, which is reassuring for the driver. I liked the feel of the center-mounted transmission selector for reverse, park and drive. The electrically operated dual-door glove box enhances the well-appointed touch of the SUV, as does the center armrest with its dual-opening doors. The instrument cluster of speedometer, tachometer, fuel and water temperature readings also houses a handy LCD trip computer. By the way, the iDrive has been simplified so the audio, navigation, climate and car data controls are now user-friendly.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, a side curtain for second row, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, three-point seatbelts for all positions, a tire pressure monitoring system and an antiskid system with rollover sensor are some of the security features.
OUT THE DOOR: $45,900, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. A third-row seat is available for $1,700 and the panoramic moonroof for $1,350.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 255/55HR18 alloy wheels; wheelbase, 115.5 inches; length, 191.1 inches; weight, 4,982 pounds; fuel capacity, 22.5 gallons; highway, 23 mpg; city, 17 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The addition of the optional third-row seat doesn't transform the X5 into a mere people hauler. The spacious SUV also is loaded with luxury goodies and a performance that leaves a lasting impression on road as well as on an off-road jaunt.