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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
propels the 5,225-pound SUV like a freight train
accelerates with far more insistence than you'd expect from a 3.0-liter inline-6”
The X5 M stacks up impressively well to the competition in its freshman year
It does not drive anything like a big crossover
Several levels of performance can be had, with two standard gasoline models—the xDrive30i and xDrive48i—joined by the xDrive35d diesel and the high-performance X5 M. Sportier than most and more efficient than some, the 2010 BMW X5 is definitely not an average SUV. Performance diesel-powered X5 remains impressive, but it’s the all-new X5 M that really pushes the envelope.
Cars.com says, “The X5 xDrive35d has a huge reserve early on that propels the 5,225-pound SUV like a freight train,” and it’s the preferable daily driver to the V-8-powered xDrive48i. The reviewer also “noticed some accelerator lag early on, but by the end of the week the SUV moved without hesitation,” unlike comparable Mercedes models. Popular Mechanics proclaims, “Click the fly-by-wire shifter into 'D' and heavy pressure on the right pedal produces strong thrust” beyond what you’d typically expect of a six-cylinder engine. EPA-estimated fuel economy sits 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined, according to Edmunds.
Again according to Cars.com, the 2010 BMW X5 3.0si’s "venerable 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine" produces 360 horsepower with 225 pound-feet of torque, while the 4.8i’s "4.8-liter V-8 makes 350 hp and 350 pounds-feet of torque." Car and Driver thinks that the 3.0si “will be enough for most" and contends the "V-8 is a bit over the top." Edmund finds that "in performance testing, the X5 4.8i went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds"; Cars.com’s testing pegs the 3.0-liter engine at 7.8 seconds going from 0-60, with the 4.8-liter taking 6.4. Towing performance is good with any package; Cars.com states the "inline-six and V-8 versions are both rated to tow up to 6,000 pounds when properly equipped." For those who think too much is never enough, the X5 M’s 555-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 and 6,600 pounds of towing capacity take it a step further, though Edmunds notes this drags down fuel economy to “12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.”
All three available powerplants "feature BMW's exclusive Valvetronic electronic valve actuation and Double VANOS variable valve timing”—features that boost both efficiency and performance, according to Kelley Blue Book. Car and Driver finds the balance perfect: While the driver is extracting top performance, "the powertrain is busy eking the most out of every drop of gas."
"As automatics go...the X5 is right up there with the best of them,” contends Cars.com. In fact, when it comes to the BMW X5, "the shift quality is excellent and the transmission kicks down when necessary." When the car is in sport mode, the kick-down is still quick and the engine braking "decent," thanks to delayed upshifts.
MyRide.com mentions that on twisty mountain roads, the BMW X5 does not handle in the way a large crossover usually does: “the X5 has both the power and the handling to make you think sport, not utility." Edmunds likewise declares "the X5 M is simply one of the best high-performance SUVs on the market.” According to Car and Driver, the 2010 BMW X5 has "responsive steering, powerful engines, and a taut chassis," which give the X5 a connected feeling absent in most SUVs. Cars.com agrees, saying that the X5 "always feels stable and under control," with Car and Driver praising the "natural-feeling steering."
The performance and handling of the 2010 BMW X5 is superb, and the X5 M is almost without rival.