It's OK to love diesels

2009, BMW, X5

About 30 years ago, Americans had plenty of reasons to hate diesels. They were sluggish, loud, dirty and smelly.

Not anymore.

To see how far the technology has come, check out the 2009 BMW X5 35d. This luxury diesel SUV is rated at 19 mpg city and 25 highway, has more than adequate power and offers an interior with ample amenities.

The X5's twin sequential-turbo 3.0 diesel makes 265 horsepower, which is five better than the X5's gasoline version. Plus, the 425 pounds-feet of torque made by the 35d is mighty, and you'll certainly feel it upon acceleration. Speaking of acceleration, BMW says the 35d goes 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, pretty swift for a vehicle of this size.

But you don't have to feel guilty about possessing all that power. This diesel engine emits low enough levels of exhaust to meet requirements in all 50 states.

If you're buying the brand with the three letters and the propeller logo, most likely you want sharp driving characteristics, and to be sure, you'll get them with the X5

Despite the size of this machine, you'll feel very few road bumps and experience very little body roll.

Plus, its rigid suspension makes for a precision-driving experience, just as one would get in a BMW sedan or coupe.

BMW says the X5 has a vehicle weight of almost 5,000 pounds, but it drives much lighter than that.

The X5 comes with a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive.

You will surely enjoy the docile but powerful and quiet feel that the engine offers.

On the interior, this generation of the X5 improves upon the interior space offered by the prior version, which seemed just a tad cramped.

The front seats are adjustable buckets, while the rear has a 60/40 split bench.

But in the rear seating you don't have to deal with that bothersome hump in the center of the floor that makes sitting in the middle so unpleasant.

The X5 has an optional third-row, but that wasn't included in the tester.

That's fine just the same, since we usually find third rows to be more trouble than they are worth.

The firmness of the seats make for great comfort and support, even if you are driving a long way.

The overall interior design is classy. No skimping on the materials - which you would never expect BMW to do in the first place.

There are options galore, and the tester had many of them, such as the premium sound and technology packages, cold weather package, heated seats, backup camera, power tailgate and lighted door handles.

Yes, iDrive, BMW's famous (or infamous) user interface system is still present, but you just kind of figure it out the best way you can after a couple of days and move on. On the exterior, the X5 has all the qualities that make the BMW so handsome, including the distinctive grille with the quad headlights.

The X5 seems to have gotten a bit larger, and is more athletic looking, preventing it from being too wagonish for those who want a generous dose of style in their family hauler. There is a long list of safety features, including a dynamic stability control system and adaptive headlights, that add to the overall value of the vehicle.

Our tester, which carried a sticker price of around $65,600, also had park distance control and vented disc brakes to round out its safety menu. So while it's true that you're going to pay more for a diesel model, if doing your small part to reduce our gasoline consumption and having plenty of power are among your priorities, the 35d is certainly worth a look.

By Rob Douthit

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Images of the 2009, BMW X5

2009 BMW X5 front view
2009 BMW X5 front view
2009 BMW X5 interior
2009 BMW X5 interior
2009 BMW X5 has a huge back seat
2009 BMW X5 has a huge back seat
2009 BMW X5 rear shot
2009 BMW X5 rear shot