Monday, June 25, 2012

Used Car Review - BMW X5 (2001-2007)

As the month of June comes to an end, you still don't have a hauler for the kids to school. The last candidate on this page can be realistically yours. With the power of depreciation, what used to be a plaything of the wealthy can be a gem for the middle class, for less. Without further ado, Myk Belmonte investigates this luxury SUV that is more luxurious than your neighbor's Montero Sport.

2001-2007 BMW X5

During the 90s, nearly every vehicle manufacturer in the world has a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) on their lineup. Cadillac made a "rushed" entry with the Escalade in 1999, while Porsche took it slow to develop the Cayenne for its 2002 introduction. BMW's X5 was made available to the general public in 1999 and it was the manufacturer's first SUV on their line-up. It was an astonishing success for BMW, which prompted to add the X3 in 2004, the X6 in 2008, and the X1 in 2009; resulting to the X line family.

The father of the "X Family", the X5 was marketed by BMW as a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) rather than an SUV. It was promoted as that to emphasize its on-road skills despite the bulk. Similar to the Lexus RX and Mercedes Benz M Class, the X5 started a shift from light truck based body-on-frame SUV's to a car based unibody platform that has been in vogue in the late 2000's. The first generation X5, in chassis code E53, was sold and produced from 1999 to 2006, with the E70 X5 having its release in the following year.

Bimmer fans in the Philippines waited until 2001 to have the E53 X5 in our roads. Initially offered by PGA Cars (who also distributed Land Rover previously, and currently Audi, Porsche, and Lamborghini) in its earlier years, with BMW Philippines taking over distributorship rights which resulted to adding various variants. Similar to the world market, sales discontinued in 2007, with its successor platform being introduced in the same year.

Value and Costs
After almost 8 to 10 years of age, an E53 X5 would have resale prices between P1,400,000-P2,400,000, roughly the price of a brand new mid-size SUV. The price range covers up different model years, state of condition (mind you, there exist careless type owners of luxury vehicles), and various engine configurations (gasoline V6 and V8, and diesel engines are the choices). It would be wise to get a pre-owned example to be safe. Insufficient maintenance records are a nightmare for those who own a car from a luxury brand.

I want to remind you maintaining one is almost the equivalent of three Toyota Vios's. If fueling up, go with a reputable gasoline station that has new and clean stock of fuel. Not to forget, choose a high octane gasoline to avoid fuel contamination and problems. Before buying one inspect the suspension system, test every function button, check out if the sensors for the controls work properly (the xDrive, a traction control based system, and a Hill Descent Control comes standard), and most importantly, get the feel of the car by driving it.

Exterior and Interior
Examine the exterior and you will see some Range Rover (BMW previously owned the 4x4 specialist) bits and design cues. Short front overhangs and side creases that mingle perfectly to the door handles are derived from the 3-Series sedan. If the front is the sedan side, the rear portion uncannily resembles the Range Rover, with the curved front-end blends with the sharp and angular rear. The famed "kidney grille" resides in front of the car, with it being expanded in its 2004 facelift.

High quality materials (there was never a time BMW scrimped on interior quality) abound the cabin, which really justifies the then-new price tag of P4M. You will see the clash of aluminum, leather, and wood in perfect harmony. However, radio buttons are small which you can knock the wrong station by mistake (imagine this, you are enjoying Beatles then hit to Magic playing Justin Bieber) and air conditioning controls would require time to master each function. Room is adequate for five, but the cargo area won't do justice on a shopaholic run (whether in Greenbelt, Greenhills, or Divisioria, you choose).

Those who had the money to splurge get three engine options to configure their X5's. These are a M54B30 2,979cc I6 and N62B48 4,799cc V8 that needs to be fed with gasoline fuel, and a M57TUD30 2,993cc I6 diesel burner. Power and torque figures for the M54B30 I6 gasoline are 231hp at 5,900rpm and 300Nm at 3,500rpm, the V8 engine carries 360hp at 6,200rpm  and 500Nm at 3,500rpm, and the diesel I6 has 218p at 6,500rpm and 500Nm at 2,00rpm - nearly the same figure with the V8 but tuned for available low end torque. How do they drive? The gasoline I6 (inline six, not configured in a "v" type) purrs well and responses to the driver's foot; the same thing goes with the diesel I6, but boy it drives fast and can handle the weight of the car. The V8 is a beast to drive, ferocious, fast, and yet functional. Pick your engine choice wisely.

Driving Impressions
With its 3-Series under chassis, it drives similarly to its sedan counterpart. Steering is definitely loyal, giving excellent feedback and weighing. Try to drive it on a corner (or just plain cornering) and you'll feel some degree of under steer, but this is not a huge problem. Even at high speeds, the ride is well composed and you won't feel any time to stop for some vomit break (a testament to the beefy suspension) and stays true to its on-road mission. If you plan to bring it up to the mountains or ford it on floods, you've read the wrong choice dude.

The advent of car based SUV's (or crossovers as what automotive journalists would mention) had every automobile manufacturer have one in their line up and every customer or motorist line up at the dealerships to have their hands on one. The BMW X5, age notwithstanding, is a perfect companion when accomplishing duties inside the city. And now, you can have one for the equivalent price of a brand new mid-size SUV or a high end crossover. Just set some funds for maintaining one, since BMW maintenance are not for the lazy ones.

The Good:
  • The ultimate driving experience
  • Monstrous diesel engine
  • Good quality interior bits
The Bad:
  • Dated interior
  • Non-existent utility
  • You can't take it off-road
The Pick: 3.0d variant

Engines: 2,979cc M54B30 I6 and 4,799cc N62B48 V8 gasoline. 2,993cc M57TUD30 I6 diesel.
Power: 231hp @ 5,900rpm (3.0 gasoline), 360hp @ 6,200rpm (4.8), 218hp @ 6,500rpm (3.0 diesel)
Torque: 300Nm @ 3,500rpm (3.0 gasoline), 500Nm @ 3,500rpm (4.8), 500Nm @ 2,000rpm (3.0 diesel)
Fuel Consumption: 3-7km/L (city), 6-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies, ranged from the three engines)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic (3.0 gasoline), 6-speed automatic (3.0 diesel and 4.8)
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear multilink

Price (New): P4,350,000-P5,200,000 (range from 2001-2007)
Price (Now): P1,400,000-P2,400,000
Rivals: Audi Q7, Mercedes Benz M Class, Land Rover Discovery, Land Rover Range Rover, Volvo XC90
On Sale: 2001-2007

Prestige Cars Makati - 892-8127
Autohaus BMW - 638-0734
Autozentrum BMW - 772-6021

Photos courtesy of

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