2015 BMW X5 xDrive35i - Coin Lob Into Fountain of Sports Active Ute - Review

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Timeline, Fountain of Active Youth/ Utility:

CIRCA 1999: “The Artist Formerly Formerly Known As Prince” prophesized it.  The “Little Blue Pill” [aka Sidenfil, or Viagra]” and the first luxury Sports Activity Vehicle, the BMW X5 (E53) were launched. Mid-age Americans re-discovered Active Youthfulness and were “Partying, Like It Was 1999.”

1999-2014 : has seen a slew of on-road luxury SAV competitors: Mercedes-Benz ML, Porsche Cayenne (cousin of VW Tiguan), Audi Q7, Lexus GX , Infiniti QX70 (formerly FX) even a very premium Jeep Grand Cherokee  .

Late 2014: BMW launched the third generation of the X5 (F15). Drive…He Said set out to count the ways in which the 2015 BMW X5 xDrive35i has grown from its beginnings.


Generation 2.0 of the X5 (E70) appeared in 2002 as a response to the chorus for “Large Enough to Add an Optional [small] Third Seat Row.” Not even “bustle butt” former design chief Chris Bangle dared to mess much with the original profile. The SAV was further separated from any connection to a BMW sedan platform.

BMW X5 Generation 2.5, internally designated F15, has retained most of the bones of the E70. Greater Assertiveness = Soft curves are mostly out. Rectangles are in. As are a further raked windshield, more dramatic belt-line ascent, tapered and  full LED lighting housings .

Still In: the trademark, albeit widened, Twin Kidney grille.

Improved Aerodynamics = front air dam Air Curtains [a human hand can fit through] and prominent fender Air Breathers.

Mellower Pill Effect:

Dieting the new BMW X5 by 170 pounds is comparable to kicking one grown man out of the previous model.

The twin-scroll turbocharged twin-cam 3.0L inline-6 gas powerplant endows the 4700 lb. SAV with the shove of a 1500 pound lighter  MINI Cooper S  sporty coupe. The 8-speed ZF transmission can transform from imperceptible ratio swapper  to hearty paddle operated engine braker. BMW claims its all-wheel drive viscous differential lock can be varied faster. Moved closer to unobtrusive is Start/ Stop idle sparing. Truly paradoxical is the momentary exhaust rumble on ignition, followed by near BEV silence.

The good: Any stiffness of yore has been excised. The roughest railroad crossing sends the X5 into a slow-motion fluffing of a bed sheet. You know what else? BMW and Goodyear seemed to have smothered the former raucousness of run-flat tires. Yay!!

The bad: There is only a hint of feel passing through a heftily-weighted steering wheel. The brake pedal isn’t amused by Hapkido style foot stabs.

Hospitable Earmarks:

Check out the 2015 X5 xDrive35i’s  “DHS Vehicle Spec Sheet.” It becomes evident that paring down the options can become a Congressional budget debate.

Compared to the outgoing E70 X5, the base price has risen a chunky $2200. Yet, a boatload of equipment formerly known as the  Technology and Convenience packages are now standard fare netting a $3350 SAVINGS!

Inside the 2015 X5 xDrive35i, fitted with “Mocha Interior” STANDARD pebble-grained seating and trim LEATHER, emits “Eau de Marc Jacobs.” No detail is trivial as the glove-box latch is bejeweled and the driver’s “dead pedal” is expertly molded. Stalks require but the gentlest tugs/ taps. Power windows and seats stir without so much as a whir.

– While genuine aluminum door latch releases can press a wrinkled shirt in summer’s heat, center console cupholders will neither heat nor chill beverages.

– Tree bits are rendered inconspicuous by the choco-cabin.  The clear plastic bezel covering the LED center-stack climate display is too reflective.

– An elegant ELD gauge cluster lags some competitors’ virtual LCD types. More irksome is a multifunction display positioned too far below the steering wheel boss horizon.

– “Useful Activity“: besides 3-way split folding second row seat backs, the lower portion of the split rear liftgate, folds down to open, extending load floor length.

 Communication Fix-Up:

BMW’s “Scroll-A-Submenu” I-Drive is the father if rotary dial infotainment and vehicle setting control systems. The latest version is fitted with a touch sensitive dial-top. It’s a “chicken scratch deciperable” alternative to a hoarse voice from shouting navigation destination commands or a Pleistocene epoch scroll spent spelling them out. Standard on all X5s: a pod-style dash-top mounted 10.2″-inch high resolution I-Drive display with superb color contrast.

BMW Connected Drive Office is impressive with Dragon subscription based voice to text messaging and emailing.

BMW Apps remain pretty weak for 60% of Americans (like ourselves) using Android smart handheld communication devices.

BMW was the first automaker to pull spare tires en masse from trunks. Since the entire X5 User’s Manual is now on a 200 Gigabytes hard drive, will BMW pioneer a glove-box devoid of thick epic novels?

Active Maturity:

In the quest for greater opulence, individuality, versatility and craftmanship, the 2015 BMW X5 xDrive35i  leans towards Active Maturity. And that isn’t altogether a bad thing.

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