German publication AutoBild just recently conducted a test between a few of the newer seven passenger SUVs on the market. In this test was the Hyundai Grand Sante Fe and the Volkswagen Toureg, but those aren’t the important two. The important two are the spankin-new Volvo XC-90 and the BMW X5. The latter two are some of the biggest competitors in the segment. The X5 has dominated the segment for years now, while the newcomer XC-90 is poised to possibly be best-in-class.
All SUVs were fitted with each brand’s four-cylinder diesel engine and automatic transmission. The Hyundai and Volkswagen came in fourth and third place, respectively, while the Big Swede and Big Bavarian battled it out for first. The Volvo had the clear advantage in this test, having the time to have benchmarked the X5 during its development and benefiting from the rose-colored glasses people wear when testing new cars. However, it was the X5 that came away with the victory, despite its slightly older age and less powerful engine.
The Volvo impressed with its extremely luxurious cabin, more than ample rear passenger and cargo space, good power (225hp) and good handling. The downfalls of the XC-90 were the slightly wooden suspension feel over rough pavement, fussy navigation screen and its sturdy curb weight. The X5, the (relatively) old man of the group, still manages to impress with its blend of comfort and handling as well as its quick acceleration being only one tenth of a second slower to 60mph (8.4 versus the Volvo’s 8.3) despite having less power (215hp). The only downfalls of the X5 were the large turning circle and high price tag, compared to the rest of the group.
This just goes to show that BMW still knows how to get it done and make each and every model the best all-rounder in the segment. The new X5 is a big burly machine, usually not something associated with sprightly handling, but it still manages to impress with its fun on-road manners and peppy engines. And when a car that’s already a couple of years old can take on the newest in the segment and beat it, that’s an impressive achievement. Having said that, the new XC-90 is a special machine and deserves its second place spot above the other competitors and probably against all other competitors as well.
BMW may not be able to celebrate this victory for long, however, as Audi’s long awaited replacement for the aging Q7 is on its way to showroom floors within the year. There have been no official tests or reviews as of yet, but preliminary driving reports deem it to be quite excellent. So when the new Q7 debuts we’ll be able to judge how the X5 can handle itself against yet another quality newcomer. Until then, however, the X5 seems to remain king.