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The Ultimate Savvy Traveler
2006 BMW X5 4.4i
By Alain Gayot

In Short: A luxurious and sporty SAV.

- Performance
- Safety and luxury
- Road comfort


- Feels heavy
- Tired dash styling
- Audio CD/Navigation conflict

- Separate rear pop-up window
- Lesser price

Although it's made in South Carolina for a mostly American clientele, the 2006 BMW X5 4.4i certainly feels 100 percent German. Since its inception it has gathered quite a few aficionados. With a base price of $50,000 you get a great, sporty road-holding utilitarian automobile with a solid reputation. Then, there is the options game, which propelled our tester to over $60,000. FYI: the X5 3.0i with a V6 engine starts at $42,000.

It’s hard to find anything not to like about the X5. It is an SUV—or SAV as the Bavarian firm calls it—and while not a crossover, it has good car feel. It comes with so many of the usual idiosyncrasies associated with that type of vehicles but manages to stay close to our hearts. Electronics abound and elements of luxury, comfort and safety touch all the proper areas.

The X5 series has good composure, looks distinctively BMW and drives outstandingly, albeit feeling a bit heavy and tankish in city driving situations. We loved the airy feel due to the all-glass roof and the clear rear visibility. There were few blind spots compared to similar vehicles.

A Bosch Dynamic Stability Control system keeps you on course in tough situations by electronically detecting unusual conditions. It will automatically apply brakes to individual wheels and reduce engine torque if necessary. There is a hill descent control feature, power-heated door mirrors, park distance control, automatic climate control with micro-filter with air recirculation and rear climatic control to name a few goodies. You can even get a sliding load floor for $380.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, you’ll be doing it safely and in style, always arriving with a smile in this driving machine.

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile Full Maintenance Program, BMW roadside assistance, and limited warranty; 12-year limited rust perforation warranty.

Price as tested: $60,525

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Engine: 4.4 liter DOHC, 32-valve V-8 with Valvetronic, VANOS steplessly variable valve timing and steplessly variable intake manifold
-255 horsepower

Transmission: Six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic

Safety: Dual threshold "Smart" airbags for driver and passenger, front door-mounted side impact airbags, Head Protection System, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic safety belt pretensioners

Top Speed: 128 mph

Acceleration: 0-60 in 6.5 sec

Braking: 60-0 in 116 ft.; Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Dynamic Brake Control

Fuel Economy: 16 city,
22 highway

Handling: Adaptive Transmission Control, Dynamic Stability Control with All Season Traction, xDrive all-wheel-drive; double-pivot strut-type front suspension, 4-link integral rear suspension, self-leveling rear axle with air springs

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 07/28/08 HC)