Sport utility vehicle sales continue to plummet in the face of surging gasoline prices now topping the three dollar per gallon mark. Indeed, this segment of the vehicle market has produced some of the largest profits for automakers globally and this loss of sales is impacting manufacturer bottom lines the world over. Yet, demand hasn’t dried up altogether and a rebound is possible once gas prices stabilize. For BMW owners, a larger vehicle such as the BMW X5 SAV is almost a necessity no matter what gas prices may be. Yes, the BMW X5 SAV is big topping out at just over 5,000 lbs. Are you in the market for a luxury sport utility vehicle? If so, BMW’s largest model may just have something to offer to you.
For the record, BMW calls their SUVs an SAV: a sport activity vehicle. BMW’s marketing arm felt that customers should know that beyond it’s off road prowess, the BMW X5 SAV can tow as much as 6,000 pounds; carry bicycles with an optional bike rack; hold a canoe on top of its roof; and stow camping or other activity gear in its generous sized rear quarter.
Although new to the game when its first SAV was released during the late 1990s, the technology powering this vehicle is not. Uniting BMW car technology [the X5 is based on the BMW 5 Series] with renowned Range Rover SUV engineering, BMW has fully harnessed the relationship it has with its British off road division. This is important to note as BMW entered the SUV market fresh without having had the benefit of producing a capable sport utility vehicle previously.
The chief attribute of the BMW X5 is its size as the vehicle can carry five passengers comfortably and all of the stuff needed to transport them to their various activities.
Furthermore, since the X5 is based on the BMW 5 Series, the SAV shares many features with its passenger car stable mate including: four wheel independent suspension; front and rear wheel anti-roll bars; speed sensing steering; four wheel disc brakes with ABS; electronic stability with traction control and brake assist; and a host of passenger comfort items including Bluetooth wireless; low tire pressure warning; premium sound system; on-board computer; and power everything. A retractable cargo cover completes the BMW X5’s bountiful storage offerings.
Engine choices include a 3.0L I6, a 4.4L V8 or a potent 4.8L V8. Surprisingly, the EPA fuel mileage figures for the smallest and largest engines are the same: you can expect a combined 18 mpg when driving either model numbers that line up with the industry average. A diesel aspirated engine is available for the European market but no plans have been put in place to make that engine available in the US. The BMW X5 is built exclusively in South Carolina, but likely the diesel engine does not meet the stringent US government [EPA] pollution requirements.
BMW is fast at work preparing its second generation X5 a vehicle that should be longer and heavier than the current model. Automotive experts are suggesting that the new BMW X5 will add a third row of seats to accommodate two more passengers and to differentiate the model from its slightly smaller, but also five passenger capacity X3 stable mate.
Prices for the current BMW X5 start out at just over $42,000 and top out at more than $70,000 with all options included. Chief competitors for the BMW X5 include the Mercedes M Class, the Porsche Cayenne, and the Acura MDX.
Copyright 2006 -- Matthew C. Keegan is a freelance automotive writer covering classic, current, and future models including the luxury BMW X5. You can find quality BMW X5 Accessory products and BMW X5 Parts at the X5Pros shop.
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