The BMW X5 is better than ever, but it can use more dramatic styling and an iDrive transplant. For 2009, the BMW X5 returns with some revised features and a new diesel model, the X5 xDrive35d.
By utilizing BluePerformance Technology, which incorporates AdBlue injection, in the 2009 xDrive35d's inline six-cylinder engine, BMW is making diesel technology available in all 50 states. The xDrive35d utilizes two turbos of different sizes for heightened responsiveness. At its maximum, the xDrive35d produces 425 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm and 265 horsepower at 4,200 rpm.
The diesel feels considerably more powerful than the base gasoline engine, a 260-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder, and it would be the preferred choice over the optional 350-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 for those who plan to tow or haul heavier loads. All engines use a six-speed automatic transmission to get power to all four wheels via standard all-wheel drive.
The 2009 BMW X5 is a rather tall vehicle, yet it stays remarkably composed in corners, with the all-wheel-drive and electronic stability-enhancing systems always maintaining an even keel. The automatic shifts with authority, but is smooth at cruising speeds and in Sport mode alike. With or without the optional Sport package (which adds 19-inch wheels, run-flat all-season tires, and BMW's AdaptiveDrive stability and automatic damping control system), anything like legal speed driving doesn't begin to challenge the X5's composure.
The 2009 BMW X5 is capable of transporting seven passengers, now that BMW's fitted a third-row seat to its interior, and interior room is good for all occupants. Exterior styling doesn't change much. The X5 was never one of the most handsome vehicles in its class, but it is inoffensive. Inside, it's fairly austere and decked out with gadgets like the infuriating iDrive controller that operates the audio, navigation, and climate controls.
The X5 earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award and scores high in federal crash tests, earning mostly five-star ratings, save for a four-star side-passenger impact rating and a four-star rollover rating.
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 BMW X5 is one of the better-handling utility vehicles of any shape, and a newly available diesel makes it even more appealing, but its styling and interior fail to wow.