Best of the Best 2011: Sport-Utility Vehicles: BMW X5 xDrive50i

    When looking at the exterior of the new BMW X5 xDrive50i (www.bmw.com), it is difficult to find anything that distinguishes the vehicle from the 2007 to 2010 model-year X5s. But slip into the driver’s seat and stomp the throttle, and you will see that BMW has breathed new life into its most popular SUV model in the United States.

    Instead of restyling the $58,900 X5—maybe by updating the lights, revising the grille, or adding sleeker rocker panels—BMW concentrated nearly all of its efforts on perfecting the vehicle’s engine and transmission. The company replaced the 4.8-liter V-8 with a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8.

    Mated to BMW’s new 8-speed transmission, the direct-injection engine sends 400 hp and 450 ft lbs of torque to all four wheels, launching the big Bimmer to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds while enabling it to achieve 20 mpg on the highway.

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