2014 BMW X5 ‘SAV’ gets more power and tech, but not more style

The BMW X5 was one of the first luxury SUVs (or “Sports Activity Vehicles,” in Bimmer-speak), and its maker is looking to keep it at the head of the segment in its third generation. Despite its conservative styling, BMW says the 2014 X5 will be significantly sportier to drive.

At first glance, it’s apparent that while BMW has redesigned the X5, it hasn’t revolutionized it. The new SUV is still recognizable as an X5, although the lines have softened a bit to help it fit in with today’s post-truck sport-utes. BMW’s trademark twin kidney grille is hard to miss.

Like the 3 Series, the X5 will be available with a choice of three exterior trim packages (xLine, Luxury Line, and M Sport) that offer buyers a bit of customization.

The evolutionary approach continues under the hood, where the two gasoline engines carry over. Base X5 xDrive35i and new-for-2014 sDrive35i (rear-wheel drive) models get BMW’s N55 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six, which produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.

Also carrying over is the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 in X5 xDrive50i, which also gets a power boost for 2014. Thanks to the addition of Valvetronic variable valve timing, the V8 now makes 445 hp and 480 lb-ft, increases of 45 hp and 30 lb-ft.

BMW says the X5 xDrive35i will do 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, while the xDrive50i will do the same in 4.9 seconds, improvements of 0.2 and 0.4 second, respectively.

All-new for 2014 is the xDrive35d’s 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six. It produces 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque and while BMW says it will best last year’s model in efficiency, it won’t release EPA mileage estimates this far from the X5’s on sale date.

All X5 models get BMW’s eight-speed automatic transmission. An optional sport transmission adds launch control, which seems of little utility in this sport-utility.

Also standard is the EfficientDynamics suite of fuel-saving tech. An “Eco Pro” mode tames throttle response and programs electrical accessories like the climate control for energy efficiency. There’s also an engine start/stop function, regenerative braking and, according to BMW, best-in-class aerodynamics.

There’s also plenty of tech to keep drivers from crashing their X5s. The Active Driving Assistant package includes Lane Departure Warning, and a pedestrian and collision warning system that can automatically slow the car from speeds of up to 37 mph.

Other tech features include standard Adaptive Xenon Headlights (LEDs are optional), an optional Night Vision system, Head-Up Display, and Parking Assistant, which can autonomously parallel park the X5.

Also standard is BMW Apps, which allows drivers to download compatible apps that bridge the gap between smartphone and infotainment system, as long as they’re using an iPhone.

BMW promises a full slate of apps that will allow X5 drivers to access Facebook and Twitter, listen to Pandora, and get directions, all with the car’s iDrive controller taking the place of an iPhone touch screen.

The 2014 BMW X5 will make its auto show debut at Frankfurt in September, and will go on sale in the United States shortly after that with inline-six or V8 gasoline power.

The diesel X5 xDrive35d will follow those models to the showrooms in early 2014.

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