For decades, BMW had a reputation for purity of driving experience, adeptly combining ride comfort, nimbleness and handling. But starting in the mid '90s, some of the cars wearing the Roundel started to earn a reputation for having an abundance of bells and whistles, a trend that continues to this day and is a bigger part of BMW's identity than ever. Whether you love or lament this development, the 2014 BMW X5 has gadgets galore, easily setting the standard for its class and offering levels of technology and opulence rivaling competitors costing tens of thousands more.

BMW has not yet released official pricing information for the 2014 X5, but based on the ample list of standard equipment on U.S. models, an increase in the base price is likely a given. For reference, the starting price of a 2013 X5 is $48,425, including $925 in destination charges. However, to offset the new lavish level of equipment, a rear-drive sDrive35i model will be offered for the first time in the U.S. market, for those buyers living in more temperate climes and who don't have the need for all-wheel drive.

Although immediately recognizable as an X5 from its size and proportions, the 2014 model adopts styling cues from other models in the BMW lineup to give it a fresher look. Like those on the F30 3 Series, the headlight lenses stretch all the way to the edge of the twin-kidney grille openings. The shape of the taillights is reminiscent of those on BMW's small X1 crossover. Like the current model, a third-row seat is an option, for seven-passenger capacity. BMW also claims a 7 percent improvement in cargo volume over the outgoing model.

Powertrains: Familiar and New
As with its predecessor, the 2014 X5 will be offered with two six-cylinder options, one gas, one diesel, and a twin-turbocharged V-8 as the top engine option. For 2014, all X5 models, including the xDrive35d, get an eight-speed automatic. The sDrive35i and xDrive35i carry over the widely utilized N55 turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6. As before, the engine produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to lighter weight and other efficiency enhancements, BMW promises improved fuel economy for the 2014 model, but like pricing, official EPA figures were not announced.

For those who crave power, the xDrive50i gets a substantial power boost to 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, increases of 45 hp and 30 lb-ft, respectively. BMW is claiming a no-nonsense 0-60 time for the V-8 model of 4.9 seconds, an improvement of 0.4 second over last year's model.

For the frugally minded (if there is such a thing for X5 buyers), the diesel model returns for 2014 and will start arriving in showrooms shortly after the 35i and 50i models in early calendar 2014. The 3.0-liter diesel engine gets a slight power reduction to 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, but the tradeoff is even better fuel economy than the 2013 model, which returned a respectable 19 city and 26 highway. Thanks to the across-the-board lightening program for the X5, as well as the addition of the eight-speed transmission to the 35d, BMW is promising "significant" improvements in fuel economy. A 0-60 time of just under 7 seconds is promised for the diesel.

Indulgence Included
The 2014 X5, like its predecessor, has an assortment of acronyms to enhance driver and passenger safety and comfort, with U.S.-spec cars getting standard BMW Assist eCall with an unprecedented 10-year subscription included (up from four years), BMW navigation with real-time traffic, BMW Apps, including Web Radio, Pandora, MOG, Stitcher, Aupeo, Twitter and Facebook updates, with Audible, Glympse, Rhapsody, and TuneIn to be added soon. Standard equipment for U.S.-market cars also includes Heated Seats, Park Distance Control, a two-piece power tailgate that can also be remotely closed, LED foglights, auto-dimming mirrors, panoramic moonroof, Bluetooth handsfree calling and audio, Dynamic Cruise Control with braking, rear-view camera, and multi-contour seats.

But don't worry, if your bank account or credit score allows, there are plenty of options to inflate the bottom line. Two optional sound systems are available, the "better" harman-kardon sound system, or the "best" Bang & Olufsen system with 1200 watts and 16 speakers.

Safety First
Perhaps because of the bewildering array of features and apps with which to distract occupants, the 2014 X5 has an extensive list of available active safety features. The Active Driving Assistant package bundles lane departure warning, pedestrian and collision warning and braking. The system gives audible and visual warnings to the driver and can apply moderate hazard braking to reduce vehicle speed and alert the driver.

Active Cruise Control can maintain a safe following distance up to 130 mph (not advisable in the U.S.) utilizing a front camera and radar system to maintain awareness of vehicles and stationary objects. The system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if necessary. The available Active Blind Spot Detection system gives the driver a visual signal, as well as vibration feedback through the steering wheel of a potential vehicle in the blind spot.

Verging on almost full-autopilot mode, the Traffic Jam Assistant package adds active steering input to keep the vehicle centered on the highway. Although self-parking is nothing new to the automotive world, BMW's version of it takes things a step further by including automatic throttle, brake, and gear selection in addition to the self-steering function, to make parallel parking a truly hands-and-feet-free affair.

The X5's available head-up display now includes telephone contact lists and entertainment programs (though presumably, not video.)

Guilt-Free SUV
The concept of eco-friendliness in a nearly 5000-pound SUV may ring a little hollow to some, but that hasn't stopped BMW from giving it the old college try. The Eco Pro mode actively fine-tunes engine management, throttle response, transmission shift points, and even decouples the engine and drivetrain when conditions warrant to squeeze the most miles out of a gallon of liquid hydrocarbons. But BMW also suggests driving routes that optimize fuel consumption and gives drivers prompts for when to lift off the accelerator when approaching corners or a lower-speed zone. The Eco Pro system even optimizes function of the climate control, heated seats, and exterior mirrors for optimum energy efficiency. Electric power steering, brake energy regeneration, and auto stop-start add to the eco-friendly features. Use of high-strength steel, advanced thermoplastics, aluminum and magnesium offset the added weight of the gizmos for a net weight reduction of 170 pounds for the xDrive35i and 230 for the xDrive 50i.

Trim to Taste
As much as is included standard in the 2014 X5, there are still plenty of personalization options, chief among them three exterior styling packages, including the carryover M Sport package. New for 2014 are the xLine and Luxury Line packages. The xLine features matte and satin metallic trim on the grille surrounds, bars, and side window trim, with a choice of satin or gloss finish on the roof rails. The Luxury Line has black grille bars with gloss chrome surrounds, gloss chrome finish for the rear apron and side window surrounds, and like the xLine, the choice of satin or gloss finish for the roof rails.

The M Sport package includes a body kit, gloss roof rails, paddle shifters on the M-sport steering wheel, M driver footrest and doorsills, an anthracite headliner and aluminum hexagonal trim. Performance enhancements available on the M Sport include an M Adaptive Suspension and optional 20-inch wheels. Also, 20-inch wheels in distinct styles are available as an upgrade on the xLine and Luxury Line models, with mixed-size front and rear tires.

Aside from the (mostly) exterior styling packages, there are two stand-alone leather interior packages, one featuring Ivory White nappa leather, and the other featuring Mocha Brown leather. The Ivory package includes Atlas Grey leather trim on the dashboard with contrast stitching and Oak Wood trim. The Mocha Interior Design package features a black Nappa leather dashboard trim with contrast stitching, with Fineline Pure Wood trim. Both packages are available with different wood accent trims per the customer's tastes.

All 2014 X5s come standard with adaptive xenon HID headlights, with adaptive full LED headlights available as an option. The adaptive LED lights also include an automatic high beam function. A night vision system is also an option. Both the xenon and LED headlights feature BMW's signature LED accent rings, nicknamed "angel eyes" by Bimmerphiles.

Since its introduction more than a decade ago, the X5 has been a major hit for BMW, and has spawned a whole family of crossovers wearing the Roundel, including the equally popular X3 and sport-minded X1. Not wanting to jeopardize its status as one of the anchor models of its range, the 2014 improves on the already excellent E70 model, bringing an unprecedented level of technology to the table.

While its over-the-top application of technology isn't for everyone, for some, the trifecta of status, performance and cutting-edge luxury is exactly what they're looking for, and for those buyers, the 2014 X5 won't disappoint.


2014 BMW X5
BASE PRICE $48,500 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, RWD/AWD, 5-7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.0L/300-hp/300-lb-ft turbo I-6; 4.4L/445-hp/480-lb-ft twin-turbo V-8; 3.0L/255-hp/413-lb-ft twin-turbo diesel I-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
0-60 MPH 4.9-6.9 sec (mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON Not Yet Rated
ON SALE Fourth Quarter 2013