Mercedes-Benz may have been first with its 1998 M-class, but it was 1999's BMW X5 that defined the modern SUV (sport utility vehicle), says Andrew English in The Daily Telegraph.
It set the SUV formula: a nominally four-wheel-drive off-roader (but with actual off-roading best limited to "brief forays on grassy fields or traversing high kerbs") with good on-road performance. The third-generation X5 is "quite ugly" but is "bigger, better, stronger and extremely well made".
The cabin is capacious and elegant and on the road the car has leapt forward. "Where the old car felt heavy and slightly unwieldy, the new model carries its mass more lightly. It flows over poor surfaces and the wheels don't crash through potholes quite as much."
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As a competent, comfy car with all-weather capability, the BMW is as good as ever. It looks clumsy but "from inside that lovely cabin... that's not going to matter much".
The X5 may be getting a little long in the tooth, says Matt Prior in Autocar, but it "goes down the road in a more rewarding way than any SUV this side of a Porsche Cayenne".
Its comfort levels "are beyond serious question, it feels soundly built and it accommodates five well, while running costs aren't too profligate, provided you avoid the petrol-engined models".
There are other SUVs that do certain things better, but none offer the "blend of abilities that best suit how these cars are used like the X5 does".
Engine: 2,993cc, straight-six-cylinder turbodiesel, eight-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheelsPrice: from £42,590 (£47,895 for English's test model)Power: 254bhp at 4,000rpmTorque: 413lb ft at 1,500rpmTop speed: 142mph0-62mph: 6.9 secondsFuel economy: 40.35mpg/45.6mpg (EU Urban/Combined)Carbon dioxide emissions: 162g/km
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