I’ve been test driving cars for a several years now. It’s definitely a lot of fun to try out the latest and greatest designs by a car manufacturer. Other than having to sometimes pry the keys from my hands with some cars when I have to return them, for the most part, I haven’t had any type of issues. That is, until I test drove the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i. I had a major “problem” with that car.
Before I go into the details of the 2014 BMW X5, I’m pleased to share that this review is sponsored by AutoNation BMW of Fremont and AutoNation, America’s Largest Auto Retailer. Buying a new car? There are over 20,000 AutoNation Associates at 250 new vehicle franchises across 15 states. Looking for a used auto? Get CARFAX history report, 135-point safety inspection, 3-day/150 mile money-back guarantee and more.
I typically get vehicle on loan for about a week. That way, I can really learn about the things that I like or dislike about them. Unfortunately, my time with the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i was cut short due to something that every car driver has encountered. A flat tire.
Here was the situation, and your can replace any of the variables here to make it fit your situation. My wife was out of town. I had 2 kids that I had managed to get off on playdates so that I could do my 50-mile, one-way commute (which varies in time between 1 hour and 3 hours depending on traffic). I had the X5 so I wanted to get the full luxury of driving it during my commute so I drove it to my day job. I had to time everything perfectly on the return because I had to be home in time to get my kids before their activities. I left a few minutes early for my return commute home and when I got into the BMW X5 and turned it on, an indicator on the driver’s display came on, indicating an issue with one of the tires.
I figured that perhaps one of the tires had been low on pressure so when the tire cooled in the garage, it triggered the sensor into thinking it had low pressure. But as I drove, the sensor alert didn’t go away, in fact on the larger display, I watched the psi drop, eventually hitting zero. I pulled over safely and went to check the tire that was bad. When I looked at it, it still seemed inflated, a bit softer to the kick but not much. I grabbed the (physical) manual to look up “changing a flat” and found that some cars were equipped with BMW’s RSC (aka, “run-flat”) tires. Long story short, I was able to drive my 50 mile commute home, albeit going 50 mph the whole way which took a bit longer, all with a tire that showed 0 psi on my dashboard readout. But I made it home safely, relatively on time and using the RSC tires.
There are pluses and minuses of RSC’s, I won’t go into details. I experienced the plus side of not having to take up time changing a tire. Unfortunately, once I got the X5 safely home, my test drive ended so I was only able to spend a couple of days for my review.
“Likes” & “Dislikes” of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
Not every car is perfect, and obviously any review is subjective. I try to look at cars not from a super geeky auto-enthusiast perspective (there are plenty of sites that do that), but rather from a real-world, practical standpoint of a dad of kids, specifically 3 girls. So, I get feedback from my wife and my daughters on what they like (or not) about any particular vehicle. Often they mention things that I would never have seen as a male driver. My reviews are really for families or people wondering about real-world testing, not skid pads or slalom courses or drag coefficients.
That being said, here are some of my likes and dislikes of the 2014 BMW X5 xDRive35i. You can either be lazy and watch the video below (or directly on YouTube) or read on for some of the highlights:
Like – Storage
Lots of good storage. The X5 seems to be perfect for 4-5 passengers with lots of room for luggage and other cargo.
There is even a stow-away cargo section where the spare would have potentially gone.
Like – Engine
The X5 has a 300-hp, 3.0 liter, TwinPower inline 6-cylinder, 24-valve engine. Oh, and it’s turbo-charged as well. What does mean? Basically, the engine was peppy and powerful.
And even with the power, the X5 still manages to have an average MPG of 21 (18 city and 27 highway) which is decent for an SUV/Crossover-type vehicle of this size.
Like – Run-flat Tires
Yeah, well, see the story above for details on this. But the tire above is flat. You can see how low it rests.
Don’t Like – No Auto-unlocking of the Car
In other models/trimlines, I really enjoyed the ability to just put my hand on the car door handle and it would automatically unlock, provided you had your keys on you. This model didn’t have that feature. While it is a minor item, after using a car that has that feature, I find myself trying to unlock other cars just by holding my hand in the handle. This was something that I think that BMW should have as standard to differentiate from others.
Like – Driver’s Seat Adjustments
The driver’s seat has something like 10 buttons for configuring the front seat to your liking. That includes 4-way lumbar support. And the nice thing is, once you get the seat dialed in, you can save it for the next time you drive.
Like – Panoramic Moonroof
Want to make your car feel even bigger than it is inside? Just throw in a panoramic moonroof! A standard feature, this is a huge plus in my book. It felt like having a convertible.
Like – Vehicle Status Updates
One of the great things in the X5 is the informational displays present in the main display as well as within the speedometer/tachometer region. When I got the flat, I was able to see the psi of the tire in issue as well as which one was having problems. On the driver’s gages, there were written words “Low tire. Stop carefully.” as well as a small icon of the car showing the front right tire having issues.
Like – The Different Drive Modes
The BMW X5 comes with 3 drive modes: Sport, Comfort and ECO Pro. I tended to use the Sport mode the most. But every once and a while I turned on ECO Pro mode to see if could squeak out a few extra MPGs. Comfort was pretty much that, comfortable (but a bit boring).
Like – Auto Parking Brake
When I first started seeing button-powered parking brakes, I thought, how are people going to slam on the parking to power slide through turns (thinking back to playing video games).There is no hand-held brake in the X5. Instead, it is a button that you pull to engage and push to turn off. It’s convenient and eliminates the need to know how hard to yank up on the brake to fully set it.
Like – Dual Climate Controls
My wife and I continually argue about temperature. I tend to run hot so I like having cold air blowing on my face. My wife runs cold so needs to crank up the heat. Dual controls eliminates the need for argument. Seat warmers are great to have as well. No seat coolers though unfortunately.
Like – Paddle Shifters
If you want to upshift or downshift, you can use either the shifter or the paddle shifters, which I tended to prefer. They are attached to the steering wheel (as opposed to being stationary and mounted to the steering column). I like having the shifters attached to the steering wheel because then they are always under your fingertips.
Like – GPS Navigation Input
Be sure to take a look at the video (above or here on YouTube) and forward to 2:58 and you will see the GPS input. There are the traditional ways of using the rotational dial or voice input to enter a destination. But quite by accident, I discovered you can use the top of the navigation dial as a touchpad to hand-draw in letters and numbers.
It takes some getting used to but once you get comfortable, you can enter in addresses without looking.
Don’t Like – Small Vanity Mirrors
This was something that my daughters and my wife pointed out to me. The vanity mirrors were tiny, barely enough to get a single eye into view. There is a lot of space on the visor, so my wife and kids couldn’t understand why it wasn’t used more efficiently.
Like – Radio Tuning with a Dial
The dial tuning feels like a throw back to the past with older, analog radios. You use a dial to tune to the station you want.
Don’t Like – No XM/Sirius Radio
No picture here simply because XM/Sirius Radio was missing from the package that I test drove. While the X5 did have HD radio and you can always stream via Bluetooth, I have come to like having satellite radio in the cars I test drive.
Like – Steering Wheel Controls
Having controls on the steering wheel seems like a no-brainer to me. It’s bad to take your hands off the wheel as you drive to reach for the volume.
There were many convenient controls here that ensured that your hands truly stayed on the wheel.
Like – Dimming Rear Mirrors
The mirrors in the BMW X5 are “smart.” When they detect bright lights at night, they dim a bit so that the headlight glare isn’t as strong.
Like – M Sport Package
The M Sport package, which adds $4600 to the over-all cost of the vehicle, in my opinion, is worth it. You get larger tires (20”), automatic sport transmission, multi-contour seats, aerodynamic kit and more.
Like – Online Manual
Many people stash their driver’s manual in the glove compartment. With this BMW, the manual is moved online and you can use easy identification through scrolling to find the item you need more information about. Unfortunately, you can only use the online manual when you are parked so it isn’t much different than stopping and pulling the physical manual out of the glove compartment. In fact, the tradition manual can be looked at by the passenger while the car is in motion, something that can’t be done with the digital version. Regardless, it is handy having it stored electronically.
The 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i has a base MSRP of $55,100. The price as I tested it was $68,675 which includes the M Sport ($4600), Cold Weather ($550 – adds heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers) and Dynamic Handling Packages.
The X5 still has an aggressive look and feels very solid with the strong body and the 8-speed automatic transmission. While I realize you can buy run-flat tires for just about any car, I felt a bit more secure with the X5 driving at 50 MPH with a fully flat tire. BMW is known for safety and I had that feeling of safety during my entire drive home, even with the fully flat tire.
Disclosure Text: Apart from the 7-day loan of the BMW X5, I have no material connection to BMW. More information can be found in my About page.
HTD says: The 2014 BMW X5 has nice refinement, good safety and a ton of great features.
$60,000 NIGHTMARE –
I have owned many cars, SUVs, and Trucks over a 43 year period and have never had a worse vehicle! Only Buy an X5 if you like your lifestyle horribly interrupted by your vehicle do to breakdowns and maintenance issues.
BMW X5 = Worst vehicle ever owned (problems include safety hazards). BMW X5 Service = inept. BMW Corporate = clearly about the “image” for selling the self proclaimed “ultimate driving machine” and will not stand behind their cars. I have a 2012 X5 (6 cal sport package), purchased new at East Bay BMW in Pleasanton, CA, mid 2012 (slightly over 2 yrs ago). The car has been a nightmare from the very first month, and has continued to be a nightmare for over 2.5 years.
Here are just a few examples: CONSTANT ELECTRONICS PROBLEMS that BMW has never been able to fix: The “TIRE PRESSURE MONITOR MALFUNCTION” ALARM, accompanied by it’s LOUD “GONG” alert, pops up every time the car is started and has since the beginning… BMW has never been able to fix this problem. When this ALARM happens, it also blocks pertinent driving info on your panel in 3 different locations, including (shockingly) blocking the back up camera without warning!
Various other warning lights and bells regularly go off on the vehicle… again without BMW being able to fix any of them.
THROTTLE LAG: The car has a full 1 second lag time from when you step on the gas (on the freeway on ramp, for example) before the car actually starts to accelerate. It is maddening to deal with this on a daily basis.
WHEEL LOCKS: The locking LUG NUTS BMW puts on the vehicles are also a disaster. Ask any BMW Mechanic and they will tell you. If the lugs are slightly overtightened by service when you install new tires, for example, you can NOT remove the wheels from your vehicle. I currently own this X5, and have had a BRAKE WARNING light on for over 5 weeks. I have had 3 different mechanics (tire/wheel specialists) attempt to remove the wheels, all unsuccessfully, leaving me with a $800 monthly payment on a vehicle that you can not fix the brakes (or replace a flat tire) on, because you can’t remove the wheels from the vehicle…
The EMERGENCY BRAKE randomly FREEZES ELECTRONICALLY in the locked position!!! This happened to me 4 times in a 4 month period. When it happens, the only fix is to wait with the vehicle (wherever you may be parked at the time) for BMW to eventually send a tow truck to tow it to the shop. And NO, BMW will not provide you with transportation from your “frozen in place” vehicle, regardless of where you may be at the time.
Thanks to the BMW X5, I have lost countless hours and dollars dealing with a pathetic vehicle that BMW cannot fix appropriately and will not stand behind.
The good?: As BMW suggests, the vehicle drives well (WHEN you can actually ‘drive’ it (and you are not stuck unable to fix the brakes/tires, or your emergency brake has your vehicle frozen in a parking lot somewhere), as long as you don’t mind massive throttle lag and deafening alarms blasting without warning (don’t even think about driving this vehicle to a nice evening dinner with a friend or God forbid, a business connection).