Deep Dive: 2014 BMW X5 and X6

Scott Olsen

At the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, BMW is expected to release the third iteration of the popular X5. Six months later, the new X6 is scheduled to see the light. Both models are based on a new components set known in-house as "X for all," a result of BMW's growing interest and expertise in all-wheel drive.

For the X5 and X6, "X for all" means new axles derived from the 5-series sedan. They will, according to BMW, help reduce the weight by up to 330-pounds. As a result, the lightest X5 replacement is said to undercut the two-ton mark by a small yet significant margin. An unfortunate victim of this new design is the X6's torque-vectoring rear differential, which works magically but adds weight and cost. Instead, BMW intends to offer the optional active steering, a self-leveling air suspension and Adaptive Drive, which employs adjustable anti-roll bars to suppress unwanted body movements. The three-way damper calibration system (normal, sport, comfort) and the related engine/transmission control are expected to be no-cost parts of the X5/X6 parcel.

The two crossovers also introduce an array of driver assistance devices that likely preview what's to come on the next 3-series. Among them are lane departure warning and compensation devices, night vision, park assist with surround view cameras, traffic sign recognition and active cruise control that allows the vehicle to come to a complete stop and accelerate up to speed.

All-new styling for the X5 likely refrains from the swoopy swooshiness of Adrian van Hooydonk's most recent creations like the 6-series coupe. The cabin layout is said to be remarkably close to the 5-series Gran Turismo, which is doing extremely well in China. Expect extras like a full-length glass sunroof, power-operated rear seats, and a much more practical split tailgate with a lower section that folds up rather than down. A sports package includes larger wheels and a more ground-hugging stance, as well as an aero kit that reduces drag and increases down force at speed.

Although the X6 styling still won't be an object lesson in functional design, the coupe crossover does get a dose of practicality. A redesigned (and better looking) stern improves visibility and creates quantifiably more rear headroom. Wider rear doors ease entry and exit. That said, the pseudo SUV also gets an even more dynamic looking greenhouse. New front and rear fascias round out the update.

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