We weren't even expecting it to arrive this soon. For most of a year, everyone at the dealership kept asking: When's that "bad boy" the X5 coming? No one knew for sure, but we knew it was soon when our BMW Technician (Steve) was summoned away for a week of training. Before he departed, I told him to inform his instructors and classmates that when they are "dissing" the ML, that this MB Tech. wanted them all to know......."If it ain't got a frame, then it ain't a truck". He laughed, and assured me he would. When he returned the following week, he was kinda gloating, and telling me of the features, and how much of a success he
thought the X5 was going to be. He had remembered my conversations about the ML list, and one in particular about the cupholders. He didn't neglect to inform me about how nice the cupholders were on the X5. I thought out loud, nice cupholders, great!, were never going to sell another ML again!
Well there it was. Fresh off the transport. I always liked BMW styling, flashy, pretty.... sport pretty, and unlike the ML, that takes a while to grow on you, this Bimmer was a looker! As I did a walk around, opening all the doors, checking out the interior, dash, appointments, the chrome around the exterior window trim, man o' man. This wasn't a "bad boy", this was more like "the Donald"........Trump that is. Yep you got it, LUXURY. Everything that WASN'T intended with the ML, was now inviting me to sit in. It quickly became obvious to me that this vehicle had pulled right up into the RX300's parking space, never allowing it to return. Really wanting to drive it, I had Steve get to the PDI, before we lost our window of opportunity. Word of the arrival was spreading fast! I already had a good idea of the answer, when I asked Steve why that V8 sat so low under the hood. My idea was confirmed when he explained about keeping the center of gravity low. This explanation led to more questions. How'd they do that? Before the rack was completely extended I was under it. Now you have to understand. I've been touting the ML for a couple of years now. Steve and I for 10 years now, have been rivaling, and this was one of those RARE times I was being bested! I had to find something, REAL QUICK, to pick apart!!
MACPHERSON STRUTS!!?? (this was my opportunity). WHAT THE HECK YOU MEAN, it's on the 5 series platform? (it IS the 5 series platform, and I was gaining momentum at this point) WITH NO low range how these people going to pull that ski boat up those steep ramps? Steve, now tell me. With no frame, on a passenger car platform, loaded with all that leather and fluff up there in the cockpit, just what kind of towing capacity this thing got anyhow......hmmm?? That gloat he was riding on was starting to change at this point. (Steve's good, but I got more grey then him) It's advertised at 6,000, he said. Oh yeah? Where they gonna bolt something up big enough to pull 6,000 pounds Steve? Somewhere between those pretty little quad set of chrome tailpipes? That itty bitty space up there?(that gloat had changed to a nervous little laugh) They lowered it to 5,000 lbs,he said. I took another look. Steve, this thing ain't gonna pull no 5,000lbs.(Steve gave another little nervous giggle) They lowered it to 3,500 lbs, he finally admitted. ( I didn't quite hear what he mumbled under his breath at me, sounded like,.. class pole??)
The underside was typical BMW quality engineering, good alloys, perfect welds and shiney,shiney ......stuff. The ride and the performance was again, BMW. Fun, sure, and no nonsense performance (the Donald runnin' to the bank), though the brakes aren't as good as the ML. The ML 430 has larger brakes, front and rear. 0-60 times are 8.0 (ML430),7.5 (X5). Fuel tank capacity 19.2 (ML) 24.3(X5). Fuel economy 17mpg combined (ML430), 15mpg combined(X5). MSRP base price $43,750 (ML430), $49,900 (X5). Important note on value! The ML has navigation and privacy glass as standard. The X5 navigation is $1990.00 and privacy glass $275.00 are options. The ML is roughly 16% less money then the X5.
My impressions are that this is a fine vehicle. It is well built. It does what it is intended exceedingly well. I think that for the people that bought ML's for what the ML has never intended to be, the X5 will fit your needs. I think the X5, inside and out, is a perfect example of what a 4matic 540i would be. I think for the people who bought the ML as a S "UTILITY" V, you have clearly made the right choice. The only utility I found with the X5 was a tailgate.......... And I still don't understand why it has a tailgate? Seriously folks, Mercedes, BMW, you can never go wrong with either one. You compare the C-class with the 3 series, the S-class with the 7 series, close comparisons, vehicle and dollar. However, this is a example of a departure of the comparison, the ML and X5. Two different vehicles, different purposes, different dollar. For some people this makes the decision, ML or X5, very easy.
Gotta tell you though, Steve pointed out to me, the full size spare. ;-)