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2014 BMW X5: Sportier, Technology-Packed, Still Family-Friendly

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The third-generation version of BMW's so called Sports Activity Vehicle—the BMW X5—has been unveiled. And with less weight, more performance, a more graceful look, and warmer interior appointments, along with some noteworthy active-safety features, the 2014 BMW X5 looks poised to offer more of the same, perhaps with a little more charm.

Inside and out, styling is evolutionary, but sportier and a bit more carlike. Character lines alongside have a slight upkick, while the roof-s more tapered and the greenhouse has a somewhat more chiseled look—altogether giving the profile more of a sport-wagon pop, with an element of ruggedness, of course. In back, LED light strips and a design that tapers inward give the look some clean individuality; but in front the more blunt nose, thrust-forward kidney grille, and multiple seemingly incongruous details may be a bit overwrought—with the impression of flared nostrils and a grimace, perhaps.

Softer, more luxurious inside

Cabin design is clean, with a horizontal dash design, complemented with a new top layer that flows neatly into the doors; materials and trims are warmed and have a more personalized look, with Ivory White and Mocha packages wrapping supple Nappa, leather contrast stitching, and real wood trims. You can still option the X5 as a three-row vehicle, and for 2014 access to that rearmost row has been made a little easier; the second row now is 20/40/20-split and adjusts for rake, as well.

Engine offerings are familiar. At the base level, there's the sDrive35i (yes, a new rear-wheel-drive version) and xDrive35i, both packing a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter urbocharged in-line six. X5 xDrive50i models get a 445-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 that also makes 480 lb-ft of torque. A little later (early next year), an X5 xDrive35d will join the lineup, with a 3.0-liter in-line turbo-diesel six making 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. With the X5 model line shedding in the vicinity of 200 to 300 pounds, the xDrive50i can dash to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. With a new eight-speed automatic and Eco Pro mode (with Start/Stop), you can bet that fuel economy is going to improve, too.

Everything short of an autopilot... and maybe even that

Tech features are certainly part of what will continue to make the X5 a market standout. Among the most innovative are a Traffic Jam Assistant that helps steer you along at starting and stopping at speeds of up to 25 mph, a whole suite of new BMW Apps, active blind spot detection, a head-up display, night vision, and the latest version of the iDrive interface with a 10.2-inch display. Navigation comes standard on all U.S. X5 models, and you have a pick of premium sound systems: Is it Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen?

Check back to our full review pages on the 2014 BMW X5 for more information, driving impressions, and in the meantime, a full suite of pictures and related news. The new third-generation X5 models will begin reaching U.S. dealerships beginning later this fall, while X5 xDrive35d models will follow early next year.

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