EXTERIOR

It's only fitting that a crossover with such performance prowess has such a chiseled, athletic figure. Despite its considerable size, the X5 looks fit and trim. Unmistakably a BMW, the X5 has the automaker's trademark dual-kidney grille, unique-looking taillights and modern styling.

There's no strain when loading kids in or out of the child-safety seats; the X5 sits at the perfect height to keep parents from bending down and the ceiling height keeps the kiddos from bonking their heads on the door frame during the process.

My biggest beef was the optional running boards. They were no help at all and extremely awkward. They aren't quite wide enough to use as a step into the vehicle, but they're too wide to bypass on the way out. After almost falling on my face a few times while exiting the X5, I wished I could rip them right off!

However, a notable exterior feature that almost made up for the running boards was that in addition to the power liftgate, there was a tailgate that folds down. So, if you've got to load something awkward/heavy/large into the back, you can drop the tailgate to assist you and slide it right into the cargo area. It's also convenient for diaper changes on the fly. It's the little things!

Fuel economy isn't great for the X5, but this isn't a car for penny-pinchers at the pump. The turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine makes 300 horsepower and has an eight-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway. I averaged 16 mpg during my weeklong test drive, but that probably was due to my enthusiastic driving demeanor. And thanks to that turbocharged engine, you'll also need to fill up on premium gasoline.

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