- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003

Very simply put, a sport utility vehicle is a stationwagonlike vehicle that tends to sit higher on the road and may or may not have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It might have off-road capabilities; then again, it may not.

For one, the BMW X5 4.6is by its very nature is not an off-road vehicle. Just look at those mega-size tires and you can see this is not equipment you would install on a vehicle you want to take off the pavement. No need to get down on your hands and knees. Yes, those are 20-inch cast alloy wheels wrapped with high-performance tires that look like large black rubber bands.

With these able Michelin tires, there is plenty of grip at all four corners. Fitted with 11-inch front tires and steamrollerlike 12.5-inch-wide rear tires, this BMW can grip the corners. And even though this X5 is equipped with the very capable BMW all-wheel-drive system, there is no way you should attempt to take this vehicle four-wheeling. As BMW puts it, “Perhaps obviously, this equipment is meant for ultimate on-road performance, not off-road work.” But, put it through a fast pace through a twisting mountain road and you will quickly forget about venturing off the pavement. You’ll be having far too much fun on the asphalt.

Additional power from the V-8 engine was achieved by increasing engine size to 4.6 liters, while modifying other components. The outcome increased the horsepower to 340 and raised torque to 350 foot-pounds

I didn’t get to put the X5 through scientific testing, but going on a “seat of the pants” evaluation, I feel the 6.2-second 0-to-60 mph claim by BMW is spot on. I can tell you this BMW performs very well indeed.

A sporty, steptronic five-speed automatic transmission sends power through the all-wheel-drive system to get equal traction to all four wheels or, in the case of wheel slippage, to the wheels with traction.

BMW engineers have a history of building automobiles that are not only capable of reaching the far limits in performance, they also have the uncanny ability of building vehicles that are comfortable and luxurious. The X5 is no exception.

The X5 4.6is gets standard sport seats that are optional on other models. These seats are both comfortable and supportive. Assisting in getting the proper seating position is the 12-way power adjustments, which include four lumbar adjustments.

The X5 4.6is also receives more standard equipment to make your driving experience enjoyable and comfortable. Dual-setting automatic climate control will keep driver and front passenger cool or warm accordingly and heated front and rear seats will keep all the occupants nice and toasty on those cool evenings. To help protect those attractive body-colored bumpers, a front and rear park distance warning system is included.

As you can see, the BMW X5 4.6is is equipped with all the necessary features you might need to make a short trip to the store as much of an adventure as a cross-country vacation. Though this BMW may not get you to the backwoods, it will fill your days with plenty of excitement and adventure.

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