Behind-the-wheel, the 2011 X5 is much as it's always been, with responsive steering and a smooth, compliant ride -- even on rough pavement and rutted-up dirt roads. Though it arguably doesn't hustle quite as well when the going gets twisty as the X6, it's still more agile than most offerings in its segment. After all, it may be an SUV, but it's also a BMW.

One of the X5's standout convenience features is its well-executed split tailgate. The top section opens upward as it normally does on any other SUV, but the bottom portion folds downward to create a flat loading floor and, in addition to making it easier to load large and heavy objects, protects the paint of the bumper from being damaged during loading and can double as a seat when convenient. In the case of the X5, those large objects are more likely to be strollers and Costco boxes than bags of concrete, but nobody ever said that loading a beefy stroller was a walk in the park.

Despite the new powertrain and cosmetic updates, the entry price for a 2011 X5 xDrive35i is actually lower than the 2010 xDrive30i by $1800. BMW added two trim levels to the X5's lineup for 2011, "Premium" and "Sport Activity," both designed to separate customers from larger sums of money in exchange for luxury features like cooled seats, bigger wheels, upgraded leather, and in the case of the "Sport Activity" trim, the M Sport package that adds performance rubber, M badging throughout the car, an M steering wheel, roof rails, and BMW's Adaptive Drive system.

Then there's the BMW xDrive40d, which the automaker brought along to showcase its updated diesel technology. Though not offered in the U.S. (at least not for 2011), the xDrive40d is powered by a retuned version of the xDrive35d's 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6 that packs 306 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque and is fitted with the same eight-speed transmission as the gasoline models. With the xDrive35d accounting for one-third of X5 sales, don't be surprised to see the new diesel in America relatively soon.


2011 BMW X5 xDrive35i
Base Price $46,675
Vehicle layout Front-engine, AWD, 5/7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.0L/300-hp/300-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Curb weight 4950 lbs (mfr)
Wheelbase 115.5 in
Length x width x height 191.2 x 76.1 x 69.9 in
0-60 mph 6.4 sec (mfr est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 15/21 mpg (est)
CO2 emissions 1.13 lb/mile
On sale in the U.S. Summer 2010