Ride & Handling

The X5 finds a sweet spot between SUV ride comfort and BMW athleticism Ч far better than the X6, which is two parts BMW to one part SUV. The X5's ride quality is very good, as the suspension isolates the cabin from most bumps, but it retains a well-connected feeling with the road. You don't get the floaty steering response over broken pavement that truck-based competitors like the Lexus GX 470 exhibit. The X5 has some body roll over curvy roads and quick, if not quite laser-like, response to steering inputs. The wheel turns with medium effort, but the turning circle is 42 feet, which is pretty wide for this class.

My test car had excessive squeaks and rattles Ч originating in areas from the A-pillars to the cargo area Ч but temperatures were in the 20s for much of my time with it. Those conditions produce noises in many cars we test, so be sure to take a good listen on your test drive. On the upside, there wasn't excessive road or wind noise in the cabin, even at 70 mph.

The standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes feel strong, though the pedal is a bit too touchy for smooth stops. My test car wasn't equipped with the Sport Package, which swaps the 18-inch wheels for 19-inchers and adds an adaptive suspension that actively counteracts body roll. BMW's Active Steering system is optional on the gasoline xDrive30i and xDrive48i but unavailable on the xDrive35d. It alters the steering ratio for easier turning at low speeds and more gradual response at higher speeds. Both options affect the driving experience, so be sure to test them if you're interested.

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