The Good The 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35i integrates with Google local search and social-networking apps. The navigation system shows very rich detail in its maps. Its all-wheel-drive system adds various road-holding technologies to aid handling, such as corner braking and BMW's own version of torque vectoring.
The Bad Fuel economy is only average, primarily due to the X5's heavy curb weight. Some aspects of the onscreen interface remain confusing.
The Bottom Line The 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35i emphasizes onroad handling in the most high-tech SUV available, although it hasn't conquered the curse of mediocre SUV fuel economy.
2012 BMW X5 xDrive35i
With cars such as the, BMW demonstrated it could use technology to make an SUV handle like a sport car. The 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35i does not reach quite the same level, but shows that technology does not rule out responsive driving feel. The X5 is not a luxury SUV for lazy drivers; it never let me forget that I had my hands on the wheel.
Some luxury SUVs aim for effortless driving, and some people appreciate that character. But the X5's steering wheel keeps a connectedness to the road that many cars have lost. Although BMW employs some electronic components in its power steering, it still holds on to hydraulic power as the main boost. Many automakers have gone to pure electronic power-steering systems, but none have been able to crack the code of maintaining true road feel with these systems.
Not that BMW's steering technology is behind the times. The X5 can be had with BMW's Active Steering option, which varies the turning ratio, or lock-to-lock turn of the wheel, based on the speed of the car. When going slower, this system means less force is required on the steering wheel to effect more angle on the front wheels. At higher speeds, the car offers more latitude with the steering wheel.