The first-generation X5's excellent chassis dynamics made it an SUV benchmark, but it featured a cargo hold that was actually smaller than the 3-series wagon's. The all-new, second generation X5 is seven inches longer and two inches wider. This upsizing yields only eight percent more luggage space but allows BMW to succumb to market pressure and add available third-row seating--albeit only for people who are no more than five feet, six inches tall. The X5 uses a new control-arm front suspension and is the first BMW since the M1 supercar, introduced in the late 1970s, not to employ a damper-strut arrangement in front. The in-line six and V-8 engines are upgraded to 260 hp and 350 hp, respectively, and are mated to a standard six-speed manu-matic--making the X5 yet another BMW model that is unavailable with a manual transmission. The X5 comes with iDrive standard, but there are now six programmable buttons for quicker access to commonly used menu items. The X5 also gets available adaptive damping and roll control, a head-up display, a rear-view camera with a heated lens, and BMW's controversial active steering system. For now, the new front suspension, electronic chassis tricks, and standard run-flat tires keep the new X5 at the head of the SUV class, but the competition is catching up.
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