BMW decided to freshen up the X5 by throwing all sorts of under-the-hood upgrades for the 2011 line-up. It has been a long time since an automaker decided to use powerplant upgrades as a means to refresh a model line-up. Read along to find out if they succeeded in this interesting route.

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BMW X5 has long been competing with the likes of Lexus GX and Audi Q7 to name a few in this segment so focussing on the strength would be the smart thing to do. The Ultimate Driving Machine was lacking the firepower that X6 already offered so the engineers at BMW didn’t waste any time when working on the 2011 X5.

Our test vehicle came equipped the well touted twin-scroll single turbo inline six that gushes out 300 lb-ft of torque and 300 horses. With all those horses running, you still get an impressive 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway EPA fuel efficiency. This is impressive since BMW was able to increase the power output over the 2010 model while decreasing the fuel efficiency by almost 10-percent. The X5 comes standard with the eight-speed automatic with steptronic manual shift mode. The end result is a sedan like ride and 0-60 times of 6.4 seconds – quicker than the old 8-cyl X5.

Being the Ultimate Driving Machine, we expected nothing but the best when it came to the driving experience. The X5 was no surprise whether on the interstate or the backroads. Even though the handling was not really like the one offered by 3-series but it was way better than many other SUVs. With enough power under the hood, we never had second thoughts about switching lanes on the freeway. The double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension made sure that those sharp corners are turned swiftly.

The interior of the X5 remains unchanged for the most part. The iDrive is as simple as it gets and really let’s you take control of all the functions without moving your eyes off the road. The seats are as sporty as ever and really provide you the best driving experience. If you are looking for a cushy ride of a Lexus then you are in the wrong vehicle. Our press vehicle didn’t come with the optional lane departure warning system and active cruise control. Overall the interior is very well made and shows the german sorry American build quality. The interior provides about 75 cubic feet of storage which is about average for the class. Second row has ample room and our passengers provided a very positive feedback on the overall comfort. Our test vehicle did not have the optional 3rd row seating and looking at the space available, we don’t even recommend going that route.

The exterior unlike the interior does show very few changes in the 2011 model. We have got aggressive front fascia thanks to new larger air intakes and some body colored plastics. Other than that the exterior remains the same which is not really a bad thing. The X5 has got some great styling and messing with success is not something everyone is capable of doing.

We here at AutoTalk think that BMW has done an excellent job with the refresh of the 2011 X5. Even though the exterior and the interior mostly remain unchanged, the power plant upgrade is what really shines. Our xDrive35i was swift while driving, comfortable for the passengers and luxury enough for the weekend outings. If you have a family of 4/5 and are still finding it hard to leave your performance sedan then X5 might be a perfect solution for you. Just don’t forget to add the right options to the starting price of $46,675.

Standard Equipment:

  • Tilt & Telescoping Steering Wheel
  • 18-inch wheels
  • Leather Premium Upholstery
  • 12-Speaker Sound System with HD Radio
  • Fog Lights
  • 10-way power front seats
  • CD Player
  • Aux Audio Jack
  • Adaptive Xenon Headlights
  • Automatic Vipers
  • Cruiser Control
  • Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control