The interior is nicely wrought, with high-quality fabrics and materials, but it's not quite as fabulous as the old X5's. This '07 X5 also gets a stylish but inscrutable shift lever, a starter button that first requires a key fob to be slotted into the dash, and our favorite BMW bugaboo, the iDrive system. Adding insult to injury, the optional ($1800) rear-seat entertainment system comes with a screen that blocks access to the center console and can't be seen by the third-row occupants, to whom this feature presumably caters.
Things get better once the truck is moving down the road. The throaty 4.8-liter V-8 engine puts out a healthy 350 horsepower, spurring the X5 from 0 to 60 mph in a spry 6.1 seconds. That's 0.8 second faster than the original 4.4-liter X5 we tested in 2000 and just 0.1 second shy of the high-performance X5 4.8is we drove in 2004. On its standard 18-inch Michelin Latitude M+S tires — 19s and 20s are optional — it pulled a decent 0.82 g on the skidpad. In real-world driving, the X5 always feels like it's up for action and steers, stops, and handles with authority. And unlike sport-suspension versions of the old X5, the ride is palatable, if firm.
With the V-8 underhood, the X5 is a much more entertaining, sportier truck than the 3.0-liter X5 that placed third in our May 2006 luxury-SUV comparison test ["Eight Tickets to Paradise"]. It's also quite pricey. With such options as navigation and entertainment systems, our vehicle's base price of $55,275 rose to $63,725. For that money, potential buyers might consider a Mercedes-Benz GL450, which loses little on the sport side and gains a lot of utility.