?The first time ever I saw your face …? I think that’s how the Roberta Flack song goes, although I can’t remember the rest of it, or even whether it’s a happy love song or a sad love song, because remembering that era would make me older than I care to admit.
But those are the lyrics that came to mind the first time I laid eyes on the beefy 2014 BMW X5 50i.
I hadn’t really known what to expect. It was a blind date: We’d been paired up by someone who thought we’d be a good fit, but aside from the fact that one hears ?BMW? and instantly envisions quality, I didn’t know anything about the X5.
And then I saw it.
Wow, I thought. That’s a good-looking machine. Half muscle and half metrosexual, it’s curvy and pretty and rugged and thick. I can’t say for certain whether it’s more SUV or CUV, but what I can say is it’s a very charming ride.
For starters, the X5 oozes solicitous luxury. (?Would madame care for some lumbar support? Perhaps an extended sunshade? After-dinner mint? Sir would be happy to oblige.”)
The interior is elegant and well-appointed, with an ample centre armrest console, Fineline Oak Wood trim, creamy leather seats that adjust to accommodate various body types, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, rear-seat entertainment and a long, sleek display screen loaded with connected drive services (?Would madame care to Google ?expensive restaurants/blind
I could have been happy just sitting in the driveway playing with the X5’s toys. Eventually, however, the thrill of twiddling its knobs wore off and I ventured on road.
This, too, was pretty thrilling. The X5 may look like a finessed SUV, but it’s got the snarling heart of a sports car. It’s loaded with power, it accelerates like it’s on jet fuel and, of course, it’s got that excellent, indeed legendary, BMW handling on almost any kind of road.
Speaking of which, you don’t get yourself an X5 and not try out its off-road capabilities. Here, too, it is smooth and capable, and I particularly liked that you can lock the speed in at, say, 8 km/h, if you’re tiptoeing down a tricky hill.
But it felt a bit like going for a hike in a skirt and heels: it’s too pretty for that sort of thing, and it’s not what I would buy an X5 for. To me, where the X5 shone was on the open road. Particularly on long road trips and winding highways; that’s really where this machine is happiest.
It spreads its fearsome wings and surges, it hunkers down to grab the curves, it brakes with a seamless mix of serenity and cojones.
However, I did notice a few things that displeased me, such as a Check Engine light that was on the entire time, a thirsty gas tank (chalk that up to it being an 8-cylinder)? and surprisingly limited cargo space for such an otherwise roomy vehicle.
Is any of this a deal-breaker? Depends what you plan on doing with your X5. For long (or even short) road trips, this is a lovely ride. It’s got all the comforts you could ask for and more; even your passengers will feel spoiled for luxuries.
If, on the other hand, you do a lot of hauling around of stuff, the X5 will frustrate you. There are roomier luxury haulers out there, and for less money, including the easier-on-the-gas 6-cylinder X3 35i, which starts at $62,900.
Which brings me to the final sticking point: the price. While this is undoubtedly a handsome, well-bred creature, it’s a bit steep at $96,000 ($76,500 base). So in the end, I like you, X5, but we’re not that Roberta Flack song. Because I Googled it, and they end up together.
Heart score: 8.9 out of 10
Price: $76,500 base, $96,400 as tested
Follow Wheels.ca editor Marie Sutherland’s reviews online at Wheels.ca. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @WheelsMarie