Friday, 30 May 2014

2014 Toyota Corolla Altis: Review

The bold new Toyota Corolla Altis is geared up to turn around the dwindling sales of the D-segment.

Having sold 40 million units in over 150 countries, it would be an understatement to say that theToyota Corolla is just another successful car model. The sedan was introduced in India back in 2003 and now the Japanese carmaker is set to launch the 11th generation, 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis in our country. And this isn’t another run-of-the-mill facelift; the car represents Toyota’s new, youthful design philosophy. The understated and sedate styling is passé now. The 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis not just looks a lot better than the outgoing model, but also appears much more dynamic and contemporary. This, perhaps, is the most aggressive looking Toyota Corolla Altis of all times.

The front features a bold new ‘T’ design theme, created by the new swept back headlamps which merge into the front grille. The double barrel cluster headlights now get smart LED daytime running lights on the top-end variants. Sleek chrome garnish on the headlight and the large chrome grille add the premium touch to the front design. The long and wide bonnet, the acute angle of the windscreen and lower roofline gives the 2014 Toyota Corolla a low, sports-car-like profile with improved aerodynamics.

The sharp character lines, muscular proportions along with shorter front and rear overhangs give the 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis an aggressive stance. The strong shoulder line runs from the top of the front wheel-arch and blends in to the taillamp, further enhancing the new found sportiness. The car runs on 15-inch or 16-inch wheels depending on the variant, and comes with good looking alloy wheels. There’s a hint of Lexus design too, especially at the rear end of the car with its elongated taillamps. With its sharp design, the 2014 Toyota Corolla looks great from all angles.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla is based on the existing platform but the chassis is more rigid than before and the wheelbase has been stretched by 100mm. Overall the sedan is 80mm longer and 15mm wider, and at the same time 5mm lower, than its predecessor. It improves the aerodynamics and makes the car appear lower and wider than before. This has helped in creating more space within the cabin. I like the neatly laid out new dashboard. With its flat and multi layered design, it seems to be inspired by American muscle cars. There’s a smart brush metal strip that divides the soft touch black-and-beige dashboard and continues through the door panels. 

A large touchscreen controls several function like the navigation and entertainment systems, and in the process, makes the dashboard clutter free. But during our test drive in the afternoon, the sun’s glare made it difficult to read from the display. The premium sedan comes packed with features like Bluethooth connectivity for the phone, illuminated cup holders, reverse camera and rain sensing wipers. However, rear aircon vents are missed sourly. The new car also gets ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. Though the quality of material and finish is nothing to complain about, the 2014 Toyota Corolla hasn’t been able to surpass its rivals like the Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Elantra.

The driving position is all new on the 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis. The driver’s seat is lower now and the steering wheel angle has been tweaked to give a more commanding driving position. Thanks to the elongated wheelbase, Toyota has also created 92mm more knee room at the back. The hip-point of the rear bench has been pushed back further to create more room. In fact, with the focus clearly on the rear-seat passengers, Toyota has introduced reclining rear seats, to this segment, for added comfort. The seats are well bolstered and offer good back and thigh support. And since there’s no intrusion from a central tunnel on the floor, the 2014 Toyota Corolla can comfortably accommodate three adults. 

The new 2014 Toyota Corolla carries forward the existing powertrain - a 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder, petrol VVT-i engine and a 4-cylinder 1.4-litre D-4D turbocharged diesel. And I got to drive both. The petrolToyota Corolla produces 140PS of peak power at 6,400rpm and 173Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. And this will be offered with either a six-speed manual or Toyota’s tusted CVT-i 7-speed automatic transmission. 

In petrol, I drove the CVT version, which now comes with steering mounted pedal-shifts. TheToyota engineers have improved the transmission for better fuel efficiency and reduced the level of noise, vibration and harshness. And it is evident from the word go. The power delivery is linear and the engine silky smooth. The pedals give full control of gear shifting points, making the drive more engrossing. The transmission responds instantly to every tap on the pedal shifter which comes handy during overtaking. But the CVT has that elastic feel, and on the highway the VVT-i runs out of ‘Wakudoki’.  Another grouch was that the test vehicle came with a set of wide and low 16-inch (205/55 R16) tyres that caused quite a bit of road noise.

After my drive in the petrol variant, I switched to the popular oil-burner. The 1.4-litre D-4 diesel engine is capable of 88.4PS of peak power 3,800rpm and 205Nm of peak torque available as low as 1800rpm. The D-4 comes mated to a 6-speed manual ‘box which makes diesel motor extremely efficient. The digital console displayed over 13.5kmpl efficiency, even though I pushed the car to the limit. The diesel motor has a distinct lag which even the variable geometry cannot iron out. On lower revs, the motor is fairly vibe free, but push the motor closer to the 3,800rpm mark and it gets more audible. 

In terms of driving dynamics, the big change in the 2014 Toyoto Corolla Altis is the re-engineered electric power steering, which has become heavier than before and offer better feedback than the older system. The MacPherson struts up front and the torsion beam suspension at the rear have been updated and now offer very plush ride quality and good stability around corners. The setup is on the softer side designed to offer comfort, which feels perfect for city use. Due to this, the 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis doesn’t feel as confident for enthusiastic driving as some of its European competition. It cushions bad patches of roads with ease, but tends to wallow a bit over bumps. It isn’t as agile or sharp when it comes to handling, but is definitely very pliant. 

Though it may not be as fun to drive as its rivals, the 2014 Toyota Corolla surely is one of the most comfortable cars in its segment. It’s high point, of course is its bold and sporty design, which comes with Toyota’s inherent reliability and quality. The premium sedan is expected to be launched later this month and would be priced slightly higher than the current generation Altis, which was priced between Rs 13-18 lakh. Hopefully, the new Toyota Corolla Altis will be able to bring the zing back in the premium D-segment sedan.

Competition and price
The Toyota Corolla competes with Skoda Octavia, Chevrolet Cruze, VW Jetta and the Hyundai Elantra. We expect that this new car will be priced in the Rs 12 lakh to Rs 17 lakh for the top-spec diesel variant. The Japanese automaker may also introduce an AT box for the diesel variants with this new model. It is likely to be launched in June of this year.


Overall Length (mm)46204620
Overall Width (mm)17761776
Overall Height (mm)14751475
Wheelbase (mm)27002700

Displacement (CC)17961364
Fuel SystemDual VVT-iD-4D diesel engine with variable nozzle turbo and intercooler
Maximum Power (bhp/rpm)138 @ 640087 @ 3800

Type6 - Speed MT - 7- Speed AT6 - Speed MT

FrontMcPherson strut front axleMcPherson strut front axle
RearTorsion beam rear axleTorsion beam rear axle


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDI review, test drive

Mercedes breaks the compact SUV mould with a car that has lots of impressive qualities.

This is the new Mercedes GLA crossover – an interesting car for all sorts of reasons, and a rival for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. This is more of a crossover hatchback than a compact SUV – it has up to 185mm of ground clearance, but the silhouette and driving position of a fairly large hatchback rather than of a typical 4x4.

The car you see here is a GLA 200 CDI, which comes with front-wheel-drive and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearboxes (Indian cars are likely to get only the auto). Power comes from an up-rated version of the same 2,143cc turbo-diesel used in the A 180 CDI and B 180 CDI, which in this car makes 134bhp and 30.55kgm of torque. India is also slated to get the GLA 220 CDI, which uses the same engine, but with outputs of 168bhp and 35.67kgm.

It’s refined, economical, comfortable and pleasant – albeit not as practical and convenient as some. Mercedes’ 2.1-litre diesel is a good choice for the GLA, showing off much better manners under the bonnet of this compact crossover than it does in other applications.
The engine is a little bit clattery at idle and shudders slightly on restart, but is quiet and smooth at normal operating revs, and even revs with a commendable lack of coarseness. It hits its peak torque at just 1,400rpm, and is seldom short on pulling power or insistent on a lower gear to negotiate a short climb or a typical highway overtake.

The car steers precisely, with little effort necessary through the rim, but little feedback flowing through it either. It makes for a relaxed, easy-going driving experience complemented well by ride quality that’s much more supple and absorbent than we’ve found in any of Mercedes’ other new-generation compact cars.

In the UK, ‘Comfort’ suspension comes as standard on ‘SE’-grade cars, and it deals with bumpy and broken surfaces very calmly indeed. Even the ‘Sport’ suspension, fitted as standard to AMG Line models, allows the GLA a considerably better isolated cabin than any A-, B- or CLA-class model – as another test car proved.

The GLA’s driving position is recumbent by SUV standards, and its ride height and visibility relatively ordinary. That low profile makes for quite clean, balanced and wieldy handling; on the flipside of the equation, you’ll find more cabin- and boot space, and a higher access point, elsewhere in the compact SUV class.
But you won’t find much better fuel economy. From a mixed route taking in mountain roads and expressway, our GLA 200 CDI test car returned just over 17.5kpl, thanks in part to a class-leading drag coefficient.

When it comes to a buying decision, it depends if you find the idea of a premium-brand crossover more appealing than that of a more upright compact SUV. This tester suspects many will, once they realise that the Mercedes GLA provides as much space and capability as they really need, combined with impressive performance, efficiency, quality and brand allure.

There’s certainly little wrong with this particular execution of Mercedes’ premium crossover concept, and plenty to like about a car we’d confidently describe as the best yet to come from Daimler’s new compact generation.

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster India review, test drive

The Lamborghini Aventador is a car that hardly needs an introduction. Introduced in 2011, the Aventador has been one of the most eye-catching offerings in the sportscar segment. It’s a moving art form that can make even an 80-year-old feel like an excited toddler when it rips past.

In Roadster form, it looks even more special, with its slender-spoked alloy wheels and complex glass engine cover. In my eyes, it’s easily the best-looking car you can buy today; a show-stopper in white. Yes, lots of sportscars can turn a few heads. But an Aventador Roadster, with its dramatic, jet fighter design, can summon a fanatical mob seemingly out of thin air. Hence spending a day in Bangalore in the Aventador Roadster would have been as easy as Katrina Kaif spending a day shopping on MG Road.

But yet here I am, and first things first: off comes the roof; I’m not about to drive one of the most exotic convertibles on the planet with a roof over my head. But unlike most convertibles, this isn’t some push-button, fold-on-the-fly electric roof. No, Lamborghini, in typical Italian fashion, prefers style over function, and a folding roof would have compromised the car’s beautiful silhouette and that gorgeous engine cover. So instead, you get a pair of forged composite roof panels that can be removed. It’s a bit of a tedious task – fold the seatbacks forward, pull the latches to release the panels, lift them out, and slot them into the boot. But at least they’re extremely light.

I lower myself into the cockpit, close the scissor door and am greeted by a familiar dashboard – it’s the same as the coupé and it’s still every bit as amazing. It wouldn’t be a Lambo without a low-slung driving position, a steeply raked windscreen and acres of leather and carbonfibre inside. The LP 700-4 Roadster ticks all of these boxes, and with some flair, but then Lamborghini is owned by Audi, so along with that comes Germanic quality and decent ergonomics.

You’ll also spot a few parts borrowed from various Audi models, but the way Lamborghini has managed to blend these and the media interface in without hampering the visual drama makes this cabin – or rather cockpit – very special. The German connection also means the air-con works well and you get a reversing camera; handy, because you can’t see very much past that exquisite engine cover behind you.

The Roadster gets the same earth-moving 691bhp, 6.5-litre V12 as the coupé. Given the increasing shift towards fuel-efficient, direct-injection, turbo engines, there’s something charmingly stubborn about an old-school, naturally aspirated V12 that loves to rev till your ears hurt. I prod the start button and the engine comes to life with a loud growl. On this open stretch of tarmac, the grin won’t leave my face, and the way this Roadster accelerates is a new experience altogether. Yes, I’ve driven the coupé, and it’s supposed to be slightly quicker since it’s 50kg lighter. But hearing that fantastic V12 clearly with the roof off just intensifies the experience; it feels like it’s packing another 100bhp. If you’d rather keep the roof up, you can still open the rear glass to hear that twelve-cylinder symphony
The Aventador spears towards the horizon with a pace and ferocity that few other cars on the planet can compete with. In Sport mode, the acceleration is terrific, and if that isn’t enough, in full-power Corsa mode, the car transforms completely. It kicks you hard in the back every time you upshift near its 8,500rpm redline, so much so that you run the very real risk of neck injury from whiplash. The complex four-wheel-drive system and the aggressive launch control allow this 1,625kg car to go from nought to 100kph in 3.0sec, hurtling you onward to a top speed of 349kph – without a roof!

 The gearbox, which is lightning-quick at speed, feels jerky when you’re going slow, and the single clutch is not at all smooth when it bites. In any setting, the car is cumbersome to park, because it is next to impossible to creep. With some practice, I’m able to drive the Roadster smoothly, but it requires concentration and is, frankly, exhausting.

Then there’s the ride – skateboard-stiff and outright uncomfortable on the lumpy, potholed roads of Bangalore. The car also tends to overheat, and I’m fast regretting bringing it to the city. So here’s a piece of advice to those who might actually buy this outrageous machine: spend a few lakhs more and get a flatbed truck to transport this rare piece of cattle to your favourite open road. Owning such an outrageous car also means you draw a lot of attention, and at a traffic light, you end up getting mobbed. It’s fun to begin with, but when you start causing traffic jams and bikers come perilously close to the car, camera phones in hand, the excitement turns to horror pretty quickly. You can’t escape the spotlight, especially since that would mean getting out and re-assembling the roof, panel by panel.

At Rs 5.46 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Aventador Roadster doesn’t make any sense at all, but for a few passionate (and very rich) customers, that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


The test car came with a sports package that includes low-profile tyres on 18-inch rims and a lowered, sports suspension. The launch car comes with what Merc calls a comfort suspension, which offers higher ground clearance, softer suspension settings and more practical 16-inch wheels on the base petrol variant, while the B 180 Sport gets 17-inch wheels.

The sports kit no doubt adds to the ground-hugging looks of the B-class, but look past the eye candy and you’ll see what looks like a shrunken R-class. There’s that low bonnet, steeply raked windshield and high roofline, and despite the unusual shape, it won’t take long for even untrained eyes to tell it’s a Benz. Every current Merc styling cue is present – the oversized grille with the huge three-pointed star in the centre, the clamshell bonnet and the bumper with its integrated LED lamps all point to Stuttgart.

Viewed in profile, your eyes are drawn to the sharp upswept kink that runs along the flanks and the unusually long space between the front and rear axles – yes, the wheelbase is a massive 2699mm. The rear is pure Merc too – it’s the most uncomplicated part of the design. Also impressive is the extremely slippery shape – the B-class’ drag coefficient is a low 0.26.

Under the skin, the new B-class (W246) retains its predecessor’s - the W245’s - front-wheel-drive architecture, but ditches the old car’s complex and expensive ‘sandwich structure’ chassis for a more conventional monocoque. The advantages of the less complicated setup (aside from a cut in manufacturing costs) are a liberation of interior space and lower seats that are easier to slide into.

Not that the B-class is very tall – with its 1557mm height, it fits in somewhere between a soft-roader and a saloon. The suspension is independent all round, with a MacPherson strut, wishbone setup up front and a four-link, wishbone setup at the rear. Brakes are discs all around and the steering is an electrically assisted rack-and-pinion system. The spare wheel is an inflatable space-saver and the B-class comes with an electric tyre inflator. All in all, the B180 weighs a hefty 1425kg.


What hits you the minute you slip into the easily accessible cabin is the fantastic quality of materials. The fit and finish is comparable to the nearly twice-as-expensive E-class and there’s a genuine luxury feel inside. The black leather interiors feel sporty, and even minute details like the contrasting stitching on the seats and doorpads and the aluminium highlights on the stalks are absolutely top-notch. The dashboard design is smart and we particularly liked the SLS-style air-con vents and the AMG-style steering wheel. But although build quality is impressively ahead of any big hatchback we’ve seen, the B-class doesn’t feel like it has the torsional rigidity of the bigger Merc saloons, but more on that later.

The seating position is, again, somewhere between a tall hatchback and a soft-roader, which means it isn’t too high, but it’s not saloon low. The seats are nicely cushioned and there’s ample room for heads and knees wherever you’re sitting, with particularly good provision for feet in the second row. If there’s a catch to this, it is with the seat base of the rear seats – it is a tad short and the seat-back is a bit upright as well. Still, you won’t complain much when you realise that, even if you’re a six-footer, there truly is enough room to stretch out in here. It’s a practical cabin – storage space is adequate, with big door pockets, two reasonably big cubbyholes on the centre console and a rather big glovebox.

Like in most new auto-transmission Mercs, the gear selector is on the steering column to free up space on the centre console, and for once the door mirrors are big and convex on both sides, so they are actually usable.

If we had a complaint with the cabin it would be with the control stalks, which are configured in true Merc tradition. The single stalk for the lights and wipers is on the left, the cruise control stalk is just below it and the gearlever stalk is on the right of the steering wheel. It is confusing initially and you tend to knock the gearlever into neutral when you want the indicators. Breaking away from Mercedes tradition is the parking brake; it is no longer foot-operated, but electronically activated with a button on the dashboard. The COMAND system’s screen isn’t particularly well integrated into the dashboard and it looks like a tablet computer has been stuck on to it. Also, the interface itself is now looking a bit dated. 
At 486 litres, the boot is usefully big and you get a huge 1545 litres when you fold the rear seats. Adding to its practical nature is the low boot loading lip that makes it easy to haul luggage in.

Equipment levels are good – there’s climate control, USB and aux-in ports, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable seats (though our test car didn’t have this last feature). The safety feature list is quite long as well – there are seven airbags, hill-start assist, ABS, ESP, brake assist, traction control and a tyre pressure warning system. The B-class maybe a small Merc, but there’s no stinting on safety equipment or features. 


The engine in the B180 is from an all-new engine family (engine code: M270). It’s an all-aluminium 1.6-litre turbocharged, direct-injection petrol engine that sits transversely over the front axle. The direct-injection system runs a pressure of 200bar and uses piezo injectors that handle upto five injections per cycle. The engine weighs just 137kg and part of this weight saving is down to the hollow crankshaft.

The B-class always starts in Eco mode, and that means the seven-speed auto upshifts early and the quick-acting stop-start system is eager to cut in every time you come to a stop at a red light.
The B-class always starts in Eco mode, and that means the seven-speed auto upshifts early and the quick-acting stop-start system is eager to cut in every time you come to a stop at a red light.
To get the best out of the engine, you need to switch Eco mode off, put the transmission in manual mode and use the well-finished paddles behind the steering wheel. Do so and it will hit 100kph in 10.2sec and will go on to a top speed of 192kph – very impressive figures for a car that weighs over 1.4 tonnes and makes a modest 121bhp.

The B-class is a pretty good cruiser too and, again, there’s always sufficient grunt for highway duties. Overtaking is quite easy thanks to the strong mid-range and this makes the B 180 feel even quicker than it actually is
Fuel Economy :

The B-class’ quick-to-cut-in stop-start function and Eco mode help its fuel economy in the city. We got an absolutely decent 9.5kpl. Its slippery shape and low drag coefficient helped it return 14.2kpl on the highway. 


The B-class gets Merc’s 450-watt ‘Audio 20’ system that includes a CD player, USB and aux-in ports, and plays through 12 speakers. It can play WMA, MP3 and Apple formats. It works in connection with the COMAND system’s colour screen and displays album art if the details are stored on the audio file. It also gets Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming. It’s pretty comprehensive and quite easy to use. We just wish the interface itself looked fresher; it is showing its age now.  


Mercedes has launched the B 180 base petrol at Rs 21.49 lakh going up to Rs 24.87 lakh for the Sport model, making it the most affordable Mercedes yet, but is that enough to make customers bite? The thing is, this is a car that can split opinion because it's so wrong and yet so right. The biggest problem with the B-class is not with the car itself, but with the Indian customer mindset that expects a Merc to look very upmarket. And the B-class, with its hatchback-like shape, does not. A petrol engine is another deal-breaker for many these days, but a diesel option is coming in a year's time. However, look at the B-class on sheer merit and it's got a lot going for it. Clever packaging gives it compact dimensions, which is great for city driving, and yet the cabin is surprisingly roomy. There's no compromise on quality, both inside and out, and the driving dynamics are very impressive too. It's really easy to drive and hence should find favour with lady drivers. We've seen how accomplished the B-class is, but are people willing enough to try something different? We think they should be.


Fact File

What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi)Rs 21.49 - 24.87 lakhs
InstallationFront, transverse
Type4 cyls in-line, 1595cc
Compression ratio10.3:1
Valve gear4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Power121bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque20.39kgm @ 1250-4000
Power to weight84.91bhp per tonne
Torque to weight14.3kgm per tonne
Wheel base2699mm
Boot volume486 - 1545 litres
Chassis & Body
ConstructionFive-door, monocoque, hatchback
Tyres205/55 R16, 225/45 R17
SpareSpace saver
FrontIndependent, MacPherson struts. wishbone
RearIndependent, multi-link, wishbone
TypeRack and Pinion
Type of power assistElectric
Turning circle11.0m
FrontVentilated Discs
RearSolid Discs
Tank size50 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol1.6-litre petrol, 121bhp

Sunday, 25 May 2014


What's New for 2014 :

The 2014 BMW X5 has been fully redesigned. Evolutionary in nature, it features updated styling, revised engines and slightly more interior space.


You still occasionally see original, first-generation BMW X5s on the road. In today's context, they look a little awkward. Their narrow width and tall body evokes a 5 Series wearing platform shoes. But credit BMW's foresight; the Germans knew what America wanted before we did: a luxury SUV that didn't drive like an SUV.
Fourteen model years later, BMW is hoping that it still knows what you want with its redesigned 2014 BMW X5. Performance? Luxury? Utility? Yep, it's all still here. BMW says it wanted to keep everything previous X5 owners liked. But it also wanted to bring the vehicle as up to date as possible. And we have to admit, it makes sense: Even last year, the final year of the previous, second-generation model, the BMW X5 was one of our favorite picks for a midsize luxury crossover SUV.
For the 2014 model, you get the feeling that BMW is stepping carefully. The new X5 looks a lot like the previous model. It's a handsome rig to be sure, but at first glance you might mistake it for an older X5 or even an X3. Overall size and weight are pretty much the same, effectively guaranteeing the X5's capable handling and stability remain intact. The interior is similar as well, though this time it's a bit roomier and classier-looking. The second-row seat is now split in 40/20/40 sections, improving utility, and a third-row seat is still available. Of course, the X5 can still be loaded up with features to your heart's content, and this year you can select different design themes for a bit of extra customization.

Under the hood you'll find another round of déjà vu. The turbocharged inline-6 in the 35i trim level is still available and unchanged. The X5 50i's turbocharged V8 is still here, too, though it now produces a heady 450 horsepower and gets slightly better fuel economy to boot. The most intriguing choice this time around is the 35d model and its diesel-fueled engine. Its 255-hp output is essentially the same as before, but it gets a few tweaks and is finally paired to the eight-speed automatic for even better fuel economy.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options :

The 2014 BMW X5 will come in three main trim levels: 35i, 35d and 50i, which essentially indicate what's under the hood. All have all-wheel drive ("xDrive"), though there is also a rear-drive version of the 35i available ("sDrive").

Standard equipment for the 35i and 35d include 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, automatic dual-zone climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings and heated front seats. Electronic features include BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration, a 10.2-inch central display screen, the iDrive controller, a navigation system, voice controls (navigation), and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB interface and HD radio.

The X5 xDrive50i is equipped very similarly, though it has 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery, 16-way power ("multicontour") front seats, a rearview camera and a top-down camera system as additional standard features.

Naturally, a wealth of option packages is available to further customize your X5. Starting things off are three optional equipment lines -- Luxury, xLine and M Sport -- that include different wheel designs (up to 20 inches), color schemes and trim and upholstery types. M Sport also includes sport front seats and a sport steering wheel with shift paddles for the transmission.
From here, you can go with the Premium package that adds soft-close automatic doors, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio and leather upholstery (35i and 35d). The Luxury Seating package gets you the 16-way power front seats (35i and 35d) and ventilation for the front seats. The Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
Some of these features are available as stand-alone options. Other X5 options include active steering, LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, automated parking assist, upgraded and/or extended leather upholstery, upgraded interior trim, four-zone automatic climate control, rear window manual sunshades, second-row comfort seats and a third-row seat (includes the rear air suspension). You can also order a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system or an even more expensive 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system. Lastly, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system are available.

Powertrains and Performance :

The sDrive35i (rear-wheel drive) and xDrive35i (all-wheel drive) models feature a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that produces 300 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque. At our test track, the xDrive35i sprinted from a standstill to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds, which places it at the top of its class. All X5s regardless of engine or drive configuration get an eight-speed automatic transmission. All xDrive versions also have hill descent control.
The EPA estimates the sDrive35i's fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/27 mpg highway). The xDrive version is just slightly lower at 21 mpg combined.
The xDrive35d features a diesel-powered 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. Official EPA ratings weren't available as of this writing, but BMW is promising 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway, which would mean an approximate 25 or 26 mpg in the combined rating.
The xDrive50i gets a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 good for 450 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. At the pump, you're looking at 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city/22 mpg highway).
Properly equipped, the X5 can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

Safety :

Every 2014 BMW X5 includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance. In a simulated panic stop from 60 mph, we recorded a shorter-than-average 117-foot distance.
Optional safety features are effectively grouped into the Driver Assistance packages, and they include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a collision mitigation system that can apply the vehicle's brakes automatically to prevent or minimize a head-on impact at low speeds.

Interior Design and Special Features :

As with most BMWs, the X5's interior layout is elegant, with solid construction and high-quality materials. Models with the upgraded and extended leather options are particularly impressive. From the driver seat, you're presented with classic BMW gauges and a large central display screen with crisp graphics. The front seats are nicely shaped and adjust for a wide range of body types, while the optional multicontour seats offer even more adjustments.

The iDrive interface works well for controlling and adjusting all of the X5's systems, and this year's version includes a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten inputs. In our experience, though, iDrive typically take a few more clicks and twists of the control knob to get what you want; some rival systems are easier to use.

Utility can also be a concern. The second-row seats are comfortable, but rear legroom is merely adequate. The optional third row is even more cramped and really only accommodates children. With both rows folded, cargo space measures 66 cubic feet, which is below average compared to many other models in this class. One distinct attribute of the X5 continues to be its split two-section liftgate. The lower, smaller section pulls down flat, making it easy to sit on for tailgating.

Driving Impressions :

The 2014 BMW X5 is one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers around. Whether driving on back roads or on an endless expanse of interstate, the X5 is a champ, feeling secure and stable yet also relatively nimble and fun to drive. Road and wind noise are pleasantly muted (depending on speed and the surface, of course), but buyers looking for a Lexus-like comfy-couch ride may find this Bimmer a bit firm.
Engine performance is strong throughout the lineup, even with the base six-cylinder. The turbocharged V8 is a beast, and acceleration isn't that far off from the previous generation's X5 M model. But our favorite is the 35d's diesel six-cylinder. Its prodigious torque output gives you quick acceleration around town, yet it's still strong enough for easy passing on the highway. The top fuel economy is just a bonus.
  • Thanks to subtle improvements all around, the redesigned 2014 BMW X5 is a top choice for a luxury crossover SUV, especially if performance is a priority.

  • Pros

    Athletic handling; potent and efficient engines; luxurious and comfortable interior; huge list of features; steadfast high-speed stability.
  • Cons

    Mediocre utility; higher price than many rival luxury crossover SUVs.