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2007 BMW X5 3.0si

X marks the annoying spot

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating


2007 BMW X5 3.0si

Bigger, taller, wider and heavier than before.

Photo © BMW USA
Before I say anything at all about the 2007 BMW X5 3.0si, I have to admit that I'm easily annoyed. If patience is a virtue, consider me a sinner. BMW overhauled the X5 for 2007, making a host of tweaks and changes designed to make the SUV better. Well, they made the X5 more annoying. The 2007 BMW X5 3.0si comes with a base price of $45,900 ($55,325 as tested) with a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty, full maintenance and roadside assistance program, and an EPA fuel economy estimate of 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway. Okay, let's drive already.

First Glance

Larger exterior photos: Front Rear

You may be excused if you can't spot the differences between a 2006 X5 and a 2007 model -- I do this for a living, and I can't really tell which is which. The first indication that you're looking at a 2007 X5 is that it is substantially bigger than the earlier edition in nearly every measurable exterior dimension. At nearly 16' long, it is almost 8" longer. It is 2" taller. It is 3" wider. It has a 4" longer wheelbase. And those added inches equal extra poundage -- the 2007 X5 weighs in at 4982 lbs, a whopping 330 lbs heavier than its predecessor.

For all that added girth, X5 retains its essential X5-ness. Big multi-projector headlights are deep-set behind clear shields. The BMW signature kidney grille openings look like feral nostrils. Assertive creases highlight lines down the athletic sides of the body. The tailgate is a little more bulbous, a little rounder than before, giving the whole vehicle a bit of a teardrop shape. X5 reminds me of a body builder whose bulk gives the impression of power.

Fit and finish are exemplary, as you should expect from a vehicle that costs over 45 grand. I especially liked the standard gleaming 18" alloy wheels, a step up from most stock alloys.

Continued below...

In the Driver's Seat

Annoyances abound on the X5 dash.

Photo © BMW USA
Larger interior photo

Let the annoyance begin. I don't expect to get into a new SUV and immediately figure out how every feature works, any more than I expect to take a new computer out of the box and immediately access all of its features. You have to really study the owners manual to master some of the deeper functions. So I give a new SUV a break, and give myself some time to figure out how everything works. If you've ever used a joystick, you'll immediately understand how BMW's driver interface works, and you'll be able to customize its functions to suit your style.

But then BMW throws in a few completely unnecessary twists. The gear selector, mounted in the center console, works in a way that I found annoying and counterintuitive. We've spent years operating gear selectors in the same way, pulling back from Park to Reverse to Drive, etc. I'll bet you don't even think about it anymore, and most manufacturers stick with the same basic formula -- because it works. Not BMW -- they have to tweak the system. You pull back to go into Drive, but you push forward to go into Reverse. Annoying.

Then, there's the parking brake, an electronic goodie that is operated by a lever in the center console. I'm a fiddler. No, I don't play the fiddle, I just have busy hands. When I'm driving, I'm touching surfaces, fiddling with knobs, reaching around all the time, even when my hands are on the wheel. I lived in fear of that parking brake lever. It was right in my busiest zone. I had to make sure that I didn't accidentally fiddle myself into an electronic disaster. Annoying.

On the Road

At least driving the X5 proved somewhat less annoying than trying to master the controls. BMW has increased the output of the 24-valve inline six-cylinder 3.0 liter engine from last year's 225 hp/214 lb-ft of torque to 260 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, while increasing fuel economy from 16 city/21 highway to 17 city/23 highway. Even with the added bulk, the new X5 feels substantially livelier than the old one. My test vehicle was equipped with a $3,600 Sport Package of options, which included electronic damping control. With X5's four-wheel independent suspension and all-wheel drive, the ride is smooth and sporty, flat through the curves and remarkably well-composed. X5 moves well for a big vehicle, and almost qualifies as fun to drive.

Safety features abound on X5, which is great considering that seating capacity is up to seven with the addition of a pair of third row seats. The extra wheelbase made room for the seating, though access is a little tight. Kids and small adults should be quite comfortable in the third row, and three adults can sit snugly in the second row. The front row is the place to be, with an extremely comfortable driver's seat that's both heated and ventilated.

Journey's End

A slightly bulbous tailgate gives X5 a teardrop shape.

Photo © BMW USA
I guess the biggest annoyance for me in the X5 was that it lacked that special something that I expect from a BMW. The X5 3.0si is pretty much a people-hauler, and an expensive one at that. Maybe stepping up to the X5 4.8si with its 4.8 liter V8 that pumps out 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque would change my mind, but the extra $9,000 might deter me.

If you're considering a BMW X5 3.0si, there are several other SUVs to look at before you make your decision. The German competition abounds -- the Audi Q7, the Porsche Cayenne and the Volkswagen Touareg are all incredible, and folks just rave about their Mercedes-Benz GL450s. Acura's MDX, Lexus's GX470 and Infiniti's EX35 are also worth considering. Don't overlook the Cadillac SRX, the Lincoln MKX or the Mazda CX-9 either.

I still stand by my right to be annoyed by the X5, even though I recognize that every relationship is a two-way street. Perhaps if I were more patient, I might come to appreciate X5's unique qualities more. On the other hand, I might be forced to crash it into a tree out of frustration. I know myself pretty well -- and I'm going to stay away from the BMW X5. Don't let me sway you, though -- go try one out and get annoyed for yourself.

After all, misery loves company.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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