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Cars Worth Noting: 2003 BMW X5

2003 BMW X5

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 BMW’s 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 X5’s doors, which are so unbelievably heavy that my 6-year-old daughter couldn’t 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 I’m sure it is. But so are many lighter and better-hinged doors that don’t require two men and a boy to operate. So let’s 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. I’m also lost on the value equation of the $1,200 16-way seats and the $1,800 navigation system.

But then there’s the powertrain.

The steroidal power of the VVT-equipped 4.4L V-8 and the seamless 5-speed Steptronic transmission make me forgive the X5’s trespasses. Factor in its outstanding handling and stretch mark-producing brakes and I actually begin to see the attraction.

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Thu. July 18th, 2024

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