Same goes for inside. Except for the 4000* RPM redline and 'diesel' badge on the fuel gauge, the interiors are identical too. Wood trim and supple leather complement the simple and concise layout to the various controls. Plenty of room exists for five occupants - though the rear seats fold flat to accommodate any combination of passengers and cargo. Several handy storage compartments are at hand for smaller items, too.
X5's three-litre diesel engine fires up in near silence at the press of a button. The idle settles quickly into a liquid smooth purr - devoid of the rattling, harshness and smelly, sooty exhaust many still expect of a diesel engine.
Horsepower is rated at 265, backed by a V8-like 425 lb.-ft of torque. Output is sent to the wheels by a six-speed automatic transmission and fully intelligent, decision-free all wheel drive system called xDrive.
A unique twin variable turbocharging system is employed to eliminate turbo lag and boost performance. The premise is simple: what one does well, two do better. Rather than using a single turbo, a pair of exhaust-driven turbines is utilized. One is smaller- spooling quickly at lower revs, while the larger turbocharger takes effect in the mid-range of the engines power curve.
Drivers are treated to plentiful thrust with every throttle input, as well as generous pull for passing and merging. The engine emits negligible clues as to its choice in fuel in the process. It's as much a BMW engine as it is a diesel - and even the seasoned driving enthusiast will enjoy the X5 xDrive35d. Engine performance is matched by precision from the steering, chassis and brakes that wouldn't feel out of place on a sports sedan.
The diesel-powered X5 is expected to average about 25 percent less fuel consumption than the standard model, running on widely-available 'ultra low sulfur diesel'. Long-distance travelers and those interested in a new, environmentally-responsible technology will likely lean towards it.
Negative perceptions of diesel powered vehicles still exist. However, given the smoothness and compromise-free operation enabled by BMW's new diesel technology, a simple test-drive should suffice to kick these to the curb.
The new X5 xDrive35d is on sale now.
Justin Pritchard is an Ontario-based automotive journalist and automotive consultant to News Canada. His work can be seen in various Canadian newspapers, magazines and websites- and he also hosts a weekly TV and web car review segment.