2014 BMW X5
The BMW X5 arrived for the 2000 model year; a time when rival European brands were bringing high dollar sport utes to an American market that couldn’t buy up them fast enough. While the X5 has proven very popular with more than 1.3-million sold, competition grows more intense. Plus many ute buyers are downsizing to save on fuel costs. So let’s see if an all-new X5 factors in all the changes.
The mid-size 2014 BMW X5 is actually the 3rd generation of BMW’s original Sports Activity Vehicle. And while BMW has expanded into smaller segments with both the X3 and X1, it’s still the X5 that makes up the bulk of their utility sales in the U.S.
Perhaps the biggest news is that a rear-wheel-drive only sDrive X5 is now available for those that have no need for all-wheel-drive. The new-gen looks are in a word, evolutionary. But tweaks such as new headlights with flattened LED trim rings, and the increasing amount of aero elements will let those “in the know”, know you’ve upgraded.
While wheelbase carries over at 115.5 inches, overall length grows by 2-inches to 193.2. It loses a little in both overall height and ride height, giving this X5 a more hunkered down look. But like the guy at the gym with the cut-off sleeves, the very high mounted fog lamps and traditional twin kidney grilles try a little too hard to look cool.
Thick body lines are still present along the sides, only now they emanate from a new front fender vent. All-in-all, not a bad looking redesign, though some of our staff did feel it appears more mini-van-ish than before. We’re all fans of the dual tailgate setup, as it makes loading heavy and bulky items easier.
While off-road credentials are probably not a high priority, the full-time intelligent all-wheel-drive system uses lots of electronic wizardry to be very capable. And should do just fine if the pending zombie apocalypse does arrive, or just on the snowy roads that we encountered here in the Mid-Atlantic this past winter.
Regardless of driving mission, you’ll find the X5 rides more like a BMW sedan than any ute. The incredibly smooth shifts of the standard 8-speed automatic transmission, and one of the most unobtrusive start/stop systems we’ve sampled, add positively to the experience.
And as you would expect, it’s a great handling experience as well. Though as with most BMW’s, we mourn the lack of steering feel. But it’s hard to argue with the results, as steering is still impressively quick.
Driven aggressively, the X5 begins to feel more like an SUV, but still one that handles better than most. And this 6-banger xDrive35i certainly hooks up and launches like few SUVs. It doesn’t feel overly powerful, just a civilized whoosh of acceleration taking you to 60 in 6.2-seconds. Power continues to pour on smoothly as you work your way down the track, with firm, quick shifts coming right at red line until you clear the ¼-mile in 14.8-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour.
Powertrain options are as before, gasoline and diesel fueled inline-6s and a 4.4–liter V8 xDrive50i. The V8 is updated while the diesel in the xDrive35d is all new. But, in our test xDrive35i, the 3.0-liter gas I6 soldiers on, pumping out 300–horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque with the help of BMW’s TwinPower turbo.
Dropping the hood and opening the doors, the highlight of the interior is easily the huge 10-inch hi-res. screen indiscreetly plopped down on the dash. It’s controlled by iDrive of course, and we think BMW has finally struck a good balance with logically placed traditional controls; making tapping into iDrive central only necessary for more detailed requests. A new touchpad write-on feature helps as well.
Seats, front and rear are firm, supportive, but comfortable. Back seat room is adequate but far from generous. Still, the soft close doors are a nice touch.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged 20.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium. That Energy Impact Score is so-so at 15.7-barrels of annual oil use with 6.9 tons of CO2 emissions.
Yea, we know fuel economy could be better, but we just love the power and effortless feel of the gas I6. But, go the xDrive35d diesel and you gain 20% on MPGs and lose little else. And, the diesel is only $1,500 more than our tester, and volume leader xDrive35i which starts at $56,025.
The 2014 BMW X5 is indeed a sweet ride. When it comes to all out luxury, we still prefer a Range Rover, but the X5 actually appeals to a different buyer. One that needs an SUV, but really wants a BMW sport sedan. And, that will keep the X5 a major market factor for years to come.
- Engine: 3.0-liter
- Horsepower: 300
- Torque: 300 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 95 mph
- EPA: 18 mpg city/ 27 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 15.7-barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander
Toyota Goes Bigger And Better
The Toyota Highlander has been been of the best-selling 3-row family utilities for years now. But Toyota is always looking to grow their business, and now they’re attempting to do that by growing the Highlander. Say hello to the Toyota Grand Highlander.
Toyota has no problem selling utility vehicles; they currently have eight in their lineup to choose from, divided into distinct body-on-frame and unitized crossover families. Well, add one more to the crossover list, it’s the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander. Now, don’t think of the Grand Highlander so much as just a bigger version of the Highlander as it is an all-new vehicle. Longer than the Highlander by 6 1/2-inches, the priorities were to deliver true space for adults in the 3rd row while still providing more cargo room behind it.
Though large and in charge, it seems to take most of its styling cues from a much smaller member of the Toyota family, the latest RAV4. That means a big “hammerhead” trapezoidal grille, minimal overhangs, and different wheel designs than the current Highlander, all but the base XLE trim rolling on 20s.
Overall length beats Honda Pilot by 1½- inches, and 4½-inches over the Kia Telluride, so it’s a biggie!
On the road, there’s a Lexus-like refinement and borderline luxury car smoothness to the ride; above what the current Highlander delivers.
Though, there is an actual Lexus version of the Grand Highlander already announced, the TX.
The Toyota Grand Highlander feels very powerful too, when dealing with our tester’s Hybrid Max powertrain.
It sports a 2.4-liter turbo-4 with electric motor assist to deliver 362-horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic. All wheel drive is standard and max tow rating is 5,000-lbs.
But that’s just 1 of the 3 powertrains. Shared with the Highlander is a 245-horsepower 2.5-liter Hybrid with a CVT. The base engine is a 265-horsepower 2.4-liter turbo I4 with an 8-speed automatic. Both available in front or all-wheel drive.
Our Hybrid Max has unique front and rear bumpers, along with dual exhaust. So we let that 6-speed shift us down our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
For such a big vehicle, it gets up to speed quickly, leaving the line with a slight chirp of the tires on its way to 60 in just 5.6-seconds. You can feel the EV motor boost at launch, but it also aids in keeping power delivery consistent all the way down the track.
Gear changes were very smooth and it felt solid and stable throughout the ¼-mile, which we finished in 14.3-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
The Grand Highlander preferred a more leisurely pace through our handling course. Still, it doesn’t feel overly big or ungainly.
Yet you could really feel the 4,900-lbs. of weight of our Platinum Hybrid Max through here with significant body roll and apparent understeer.
Light steering and an overall soft feel are additional indicators that the main aims here were getting the family up to speed quickly and down the highway in comfort.
In braking runs, there was a noteable amount of nose dive, but stops from 60 were straight and consistent, with a good 115-foot average stopping distance from 60 miles-per-hour.
While an all-new vehicle, there’s a very familiar unassuming quality-minded Toyota interior, with their latest multimedia system which gets a 12.3-inch touchscreen standard.
The 3rd row is indeed much more than an afterthought; access is easy even for adults, there’s great space back there, and belts for 3 occupants. Plus, they were even able to provide 20.6 cubic-ft. of rear cargo space. Folding the 60/40 split 3rd row grows the space to 57.9 cubic-ft, and there’s a generous max of 97.5 with all seatbacks folded.
But while still roomy, it does seem like a bit of 2nd row space was compromised; either a 3-person bench or a pair of captain’s chairs makes for 8 or 7-passenger capacity.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Hybrid Max are 26-City, 27-Highway, and 27-Combined. We averaged 26.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
That makes for an average Energy Impact Score, with use of 11.0-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.5-tons of CO2 emissions.
Being the grandest of all Highlanders, no need for basic L or LE trims; the Grand Highlander is available in XLE, Limited, and Platinum grades only, starting with XLE at $44,465, which is certainly on par with what you pay for a top-notch 3-row family utility these days.
For Toyota, making a bigger and better version of their fast-selling Highlander was a no-brainer; and somehow in the process, they managed to seemingly shove an entire Sienna minivan in there. The impressive 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander not only gives Toyota buyers a bigger option to step up to, it primes them to be an even bigger player than they already are in the 3-row crossover game.
- Engine: 2.4-liter I-4 Turbo
- Horsepower: 362
- 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.2 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 400 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.3 seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 26 City / 27 Highway / 27 Combined