2015 BMW X5 Diesel

HOUSTON — The BMW X5 is the luxury SUV with the soul of a performance sedan. That was true when it first rolled out at the turn of the century, and it remains true today. It just so happens that it maintains its all-weather, all-capable, cargo-hauling soul as well. Powered by a diesel-fueled 6 cylinder engine, it also manages a highly respectable 27 mpg, making the X5 a luxury leader in every sense.

Lest you think you sacrifice power for the fuel-sipping diesel engine, the 3.0-liter inline-6 produces 255 horsepower and 413-lb-ft of torque, making it responsive to a sudden tap on the accelerator, and still capable of towing 5,952 pounds. The diesel manages the 0-60 test in 6.7 second. The 8-speed Steptronic transmission was tweaked this year to improve fuel economy. All-wheel drive is standard on the diesel model.

The X5's suspension is well-behaved, balancing the line between sharp, sport-like handling while maintaining a smooth, luxurious feel for the driver and passengers. Whether you're driving on gravelly back roads or along the freeway, the X5 handles like the fine-tuned driving machine that comprises BMW's entire reputation. T his Sport Activity Vehicle is sure-footed wherever it goes, and is also really quite fun to drive.

Its ride is definitely luxury performance, so if you're looking for a softer ride, this is not your automobile. This vehicle keeps the driver in mind, offering exceptional road feed back and excellent handling.

For the passengers, ultra-comfortable leather seats that adjust in every direction you can imagine are just the beginni
ng. As you'd expect from BMW, the interior is elegant and made of high-quality materials. A panoramic moonroof is standard, making long drives a real treat. The Harmon-Cardon sound system provides excellent sound quality via nine speakers. Navigation is also standard and the graphics on the center screen are crisp. And while the iDrive takes a little getting used to, once learned, becomes highly intuitive. It even features a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten inputs.

Second-row legroom is adequate, but the optional third row is tight, even for the little ones. However, that extra row is the only one in the segment. Fold down all the seats and you get 66 cubic feet of cargo room.

Also exclusive to the X5 is its unique split-folding rear hatch, which allows you to fold down the lower half of the door for sitting on.

Fresh off a major redesign for 2014, this year's model remains unchanged. A host of options (including 20-inch wheels) are available so that you can build out your own X5 to the highest levels of luxury. Pricing for the diesel model begins at $57,700 and reaches up into the 70K range from there.

In short, like the people who own it, the BMW X5 diesel has it all: luxury, performance, and style. Excellent fuel economy is a bonus.

— Kelly Foss (MyCarData)