For 2011, BMW has refreshed its strong-selling X5 Sports Activity Vehicle, but you wouldn’t know it from a glance at ten paces.

Two new direct-injected, turbocharged gasoline engines power the xDrive35i and xDrive50i.

The smaller of the new boosted units, BMW’s new single twin-scroll turbo 3.0-liter straight six, powers the xDrive35i.

With 300 horsepower, the 35i was never short of breath on our Florida preview drive.

The X5 xDrive50i gets the X6’s twin-turbocharged, 400-horsepower 4.4-liter V8.

A smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic transmission-already available in the 5-series GT and 7-series-now becomes the X5 35i and 50i’s sole gear change.

Low gears feature closer ratios for quicker acceleration, while two taller overdrive gears improve highway cruising efficiency. Regenerative braking is new to the X5, and should also improve economy.

The xDrive35d diesel enters 2011 with its 265-horsepower turbo six cylinder/six-speed automatic combo unchanged, although it does receive the same subtle styling updates as its gas-powered stablemates.

Revisions include body-colored bumpers, slightly different head and tail lights, and optional new 20-inch wheels.

The interior is also virtually unchanged, which is to say still classy and comfortable. But those inside will notice the main difference is the X5’s improved driving dynamics, highlighted by lighter-effort steering and an even more balanced feel.

On sale before summer, the 2011 X5 will start just under $47,000



"The Vue Two-Mode Hybrid proves that power and efficiency can coexist, and in a modern crossover you can have them both without skimping on any ability." – Ben Davis


  • xDrive35i: 3.0-liter straight six300-horsepower:
  • xDrive50i: twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8400-horsepower:
  • Starting just under $47,000: