2012 BMW X5 Performance

8.0
Performance
On paved roads, the 2012 BMW X5 excels. The engines might bring some funky names to the mix, but they deliver the goods in terms of power, smoothness, and, in some cases at least, fuel efficiency.

The xDrive35i model is a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharger helps the torque arrive early, provided very good acceleration and passing power despite the X5's size. A diesel model, the xDrive35d, provides similar performance with 265 horsepower but a prodigious 425 pound-feet of torque delivered at very low rpms.

Stepping up to the V-8 models, there's the xDrive50i, good for 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, which effectively turns the X5 into a very tall performance sedan with a surprising amount of cargo space. All standard X5s come with an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth shifts and an engaging manual mode. When equipped with the optional AdaptiveDrive dynamic damping system, the X5 allows adjustment into even sportier guises while retaining a safety net of stability and traction control.

The 2012 BMW X5's handling and performance is impressive, but the X5 M sets a benchmark.

The X5 M also gets a turbocharged V-8 engine, but scores a huge 555 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque, delivering sports car-like acceleration. The suspension, wheels, and tires are also upgraded, enabling incredible feats, though to truly tap the X5 M's capability, you have to get to a track. Even the brakes on the 5,250-pound beast are impressive. M Dynamic Mode stability control allows even greater slip angles while still providing computer-aided chassis control.

Off-road, the X5 is perhaps less impressive than some of the alternatives, and the often low-profile tires fitted may compromise grip and rugged-terrain capability, but it's not just a soft-roader. The X5 can handle mud, snow, gravel, inclines, and even water crossings when driven properly.

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