As the price of a vehicle goes up, so too does the power of the magnifying glass with which I scrutinize it. And at nearly $62,000, I feel justified in hauling out the microscope for BMWs tank-like X5.

Ironically, the luxury SUV looks pretty darned good when viewed that closely, but when I pull back for the macro view I find some annoying flaws and noteworthy virtues.
 
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Issue: Jul 2003


Cars Worth Noting: 2003 BMW X5



2003 BMW X5

by Gerry Kobe

As the price of a vehicle goes up, so too does the power of the magnifying glass with which I scrutinize it. And at nearly $62,000, I feel justified in hauling out the microscope for BMWs tank-like X5.

Ironically, the luxury SUV looks pretty darned good when viewed that closely, but when I pull back for the macro view I find some annoying flaws and noteworthy virtues.
 
First on the annoying list are the X5s doors, which are so unbelievably heavy that my 6-year-old daughter couldnt get in and out of the vehicle. To those who rationalize all things German, this might symbolize that the door is extremely strong and sturdy, which Im sure it is. But so are many lighter and better-hinged doors that dont require two men and a boy to operate. So lets forget the Teutonic symbolism and go for functionality.

I also found that many of the optional equipment features were not worthy of the basic machine in which they were installed. The $1,200 premium sound system option is a creampuff compared to Lexus top-ofthe- line Mark Levinson hardware. And the $700 parking assist was most gratifying when in the off position. Im also lost on the value equation of the $1,200 16-way seats and the $1,800 navigation system.

But then theres the powertrain.

The steroidal power of the VVT-equipped 4.4L V-8 and the seamless 5-speed Steptronic transmission make me forgive the X5s trespasses. Factor in its outstanding handling and stretch mark-producing brakes and I actually begin to see the attraction.

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