Posts Tagged ‘BMW X5’

Lexus Looks to Maintain Leadership with 2016 RX 350

New technology keeps RX atop luxury crossover segment.

by on Nov.04, 2015

Upgrades to the new Lexus RX 350 aims to separate the utility vehicle from the luxury pack.

Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery and few vehicles have been imitated more often than the Lexus RX 350, the car-based utility vehicle that is at the heart of Japanese luxury brand’s model line.

This week, Toyota begins distributing to dealers the new 2016 RX 350, which has been overhauled to stay ahead of the competition that has crowed into a segment that Lexus has pioneered since 1998.

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The RX 350 accounts for about 30% of Lexus total sales or about 100,000 units annually, according to Yuval Steiman, Lexus’ national marketing manager. (more…)

BMW Powers Up with Concept X5 eDrive Plug-In Hybrid

Car-like mileage from a big SUV.

by on Apr.16, 2014

Dubbed the Concept X5 eDrive, BMW calls it a Sport Activity Vehicle instead of an SUV.

Big sport-utility vehicles may yield plenty of room and power, but they aren’t exactly known for delivering great mileage. Now, BMW wants to change that equation with a new version of its SUV – make this Sport Activity Vehicle – the X5.

While production plans are still up in the air, the maker offered a handful of journalists the opportunity to drive the X5 Plug-in Hybrid prior to the official opening of the 2014 New York Auto Show at the company’s U.S. headquarters in North New Jersey. And if the prototype is any indication of what may follow, a potential buyer might expect to see fuel economy in the range of 40 miles per gallon.


For now dubbed the Concept X5 eDrive, the battery-based plug-in would provide an alternative to the current diesel-powered X5 – but industry planners say the two high-mileage systems would have distinctly different niches: plug-ins better for commuting, diesels for regularly drive longer distances. (more…)

First Drive: 2011 BMW X3 xDrive 35i and 20d

Dressed for success.

by on Oct.22, 2010

The 2011 BMW X3 makes up for the major flaws of the original compact SAV.

BMW fans will undoubtedly remember the harsh criticism levied against the original X3, which seemed to miss the mark on a number of critical counts, notably styling, size and ride.  With the second-generation 2011 BMW X3 set to hit the streets in January, all (or just about all) is forgiven.

In 2004, the X3 paved the way for the then-new segment of compact SAVs, or sports activity vehicles, as BMW prefers to call it. Even though far from perfect, some 150,000 units of the original X3 were sold, more than 600,000 worldwide.

But BMW listened well and during the first road test last week, it soon became clear that the X3 has been much improved. Not only are its looks now are on par with those of its bigger brother, the X5, but the interior has been worked over and is now in style with other BMW models, while the higher quality trim, with Leatherette standard, is definitely Bimmer-worthy.

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Perhaps the most damning complaint about the original compact SAV was its uncomfortable ride, but that has also been addressed very well, making the X3 another model for which the ‘Freude am Fahren,’ or ‘Joy in Driving’ tagline applies.


BMW Boosts Production at Spartanburg Plant – And Further Growth Could Follow

Key to corporate goal of boosting sales 55% by 2020.

by on Oct.21, 2010

BMW may have further growth plans for the newly-expanded assembly line in Spartanburg.

It may be a “German” automaker, but BMW is counting on its assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to help drive its goal of increasing sales by 55% before the end of the coming decade.

And to get there, the maker is pumping an extra $750 million to expand the factory, known internally as plant 10, which has become its critical source for multipurpose vehicles like the X5 and the newly-updated X3.

“We will continue to invest” in Spartanburg, proclaimed BMW’s chief Nortbert Reithofer, who was present at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the newly-expanded factory.

Though “plant 10” has produced a wide range of products since it first opened, nearly two decades ago, it today focuses on BMW’s so-called “sport-activity vehicles.”  And for good reason, considering the huge demand for such products in the States.  But sales are growing worldwide, making the Spartanburg plant today one of the biggest exporters – on a dollar basis – of any factory in the U.S.

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A full 70% of the vehicles produced in the South Carolina facility are exported.

Building demand with new models, such as the revised 2011 X3 is critical if BMW is to achieve the projects sales growth of 55% — to a total of 2 million vehicles per year — by 2020.

But Spartanburg alone won’t be able to handle that hefty increase, and Reithofer said that BMW needs to build an all-new plant, though he declined to name a location. Last April, on the eve of the Beijing Motor Show, he said that the X1 could be one of the models to be produced at the company’snew Chinese plant in Tiexi, in Shenyang province.

“Together with the Chinese authorities we are investigating the possibilities,” said Reithofer, adding that, the investment will be 560 million euro, half on the account of BMW and the other half on the account of its Chinese partner, Brilliance. The yearly capacity of the Tiexi plant is planned to be around 100,000 units in 2012.

The company started production in Spartanburg in 1994 with the 3-Series, followed by the Z3 and Z4. Since 1999 BMW has been using the factory to assemble the X5, and since 2008 the X6.

In the past sixteen years the plant produced more than 1.6 million vehicles overall. With the new extension the yearly capacity can be cranked up from 160,000 to 240,000 units.

The 1.2 million square-foot expansion includes a body shop, assembly hall and paint shop.

BMW started production of the second generation of the 2011 X3 in September. Approximately 1,600 extra jobs were opened up, in addition to the existing 6,000 employees. An external report states that directly and indirectly BMW generates 23,000 jobs in South Carolina.

BMW has been emphasizing the environmental friendliness of its American plant.  In Spartanburg the new paint shop uses the so-called IPP, or Integrated Paint Process, an electronically-managed system that eliminates several traditional steps, leading to a 30% decrease of energy usage and, consequently, to a 45% reduction in CO2-emissions.  That, the maker claims, is a savings of 92,000 tons per year.

Methane gas from a nearby landfill powers around half of the energy needs of the plant. Total savings amount to around $5 million per year.

The extension should allow BMW to remain the number one European premium brand on the U.S. market, it contends. But its German competitors, especially Mercedes-Benz, are closing the gap.

The second generation of the X3 will probably be joined by yet another model line. During the celebration in Spartanburg, Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW North America, said that BMW will introduce its small X1 model in this market in the first half of 2011.

Frank-Peter Arndt, BMW Group board member,  denied later that evening, the existence of such plans.

BMW’s philosophy is to build a model line in the country where it is best sold. With respect to the X3 the US market is good for 50% of worldwide sales.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt reported a day after the ceremony that BMW is considering building the 3-Series passenger car model in the US. It will be financially easier to compete with the C-Class that is produced in the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Prices for Some Used SUVS Up More Than 30%

Overall used vehicle sales up more than 10% since July 2009.

by on Aug.20, 2010

Used vehicle prices for the Cadillac Escalade rose more than 35% between July of 2009 and July of 2010.

Prices for used cars are up about 10% overall, fueled in large part by a dramatic 30% increase in prices for some used sport utility vehicles, particularly large ones, according to a study released Friday.

“Consumers are generally paying considerably more for used cars this year compared to 2009,” stated Joe Spina, a senior analyst for “A lack of confidence in the economy is driving more people to used cars, putting upward pricing pressure on a limited supply of vehicles.”

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Certainly part of the issue is the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program where car buyers were offered incentives to dump their inefficient old cars for more fuel-efficient new ones last summer. The ability to buy a new car at a significant savings last summer certainly depressed the market for used cars. The program, technically known as Cars Allowance Rebate System (CARS), gave car buyers up to $4,500 to trade in a used car for a more fuel-efficient one.

But the dramatic price increase for some large SUVs in particular was shocking. For example the average price of a used Cadillac Escalade went from went from an average for all model years of $25,600 in July 2009 to $34,715 in July 2010, a 35.6% increase. The value of a used BMW X5 jumped from $30,711 to $40,843, a rise of 33%.

As has happened in the past, buyers appear to have quickly erased their memories of gasoline prices shooting well past $4 per gallon during the summer of 2008 when many big SUV drivers abandoned the gas-guzzling vehicles for smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. With gasoline holding steady at less than $3 per gallon in many parts of the country, even during the busy summer driving months, buyers appear willing to return to bigger vehicles.

First Drive: 2010 BMW X1 xDrive 20d

New plant, new car… new opportunities?

by on Oct.02, 2009

BMW hopes to score another success with the latest Sport-Activity Vehicle, the 2010 BMW X1.

BMW hopes to score another success with the latest Sport-Activity Vehicle, the 2010 BMW X1.

BMW has a way of pushing off into uncharted territory and coming back with a solid hit.  Remember the X5?  It was anything but a sure bet when the so-called “Sport Activity Vehicle” belatedly launched the automaker into the then-booming luxury SUV segment.  But it went on to become a solid success, with more than a million sold worldwide, so far.

Then came the downsized X3, and the more recent X6, each generating controversy, and eventually, plenty of sales, on their own.  All told, the various X models now account for nearly a fifth of BMW’s global sales.  And that could grow even larger with the launch of the smallest member of that expanding family, the 2010 BMW X1 xDrive 20d – which makes its entry into the European market on October 24th, though a U.S. introduction date is unclear.

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It’s been a bit of a rush job getting the X1 to market on time, and in this case that means BMW has shortened the development and preproduction time by 40% compared to prior X models. The Germans realized soon after the decision to build the X1 was made, in 2006, that speed was of the essence. Gas prices were shooting sky high and downsizing was a solution.  Though fuel prices may have fallen since last year, BMW still sees this as an urgent goal.


First Drive: Volvo XC60

Forget the box.

by on Feb.03, 2009

2010 Volvo XC60: where's the box?

2010 Volvo XC60: where's the box?

Let’s play a game of word association. We’ll say the name of a brand, and you respond with the first word that comes into your head. Ready? Volvo…

If you said “boxy,” you’re not alone. That’s the classic shape most of us have grown up knowing. And it’s why a lot of people are likely to be confused by the pictures they’re seeing of the new Volvo XC60. It’s a sleek and sexy crossover that’s about as far as you can imagine from the staid Swedish wagons we’ve seen on the road in years past. Maybe that’s why Volvo designers decided to bolt an oversized brand badge on the grille.

Will diehards may be a bit disappointed by this dynamic new look, Volvo is betting on the XC60 to draw in a whole host of new buyers who’d normally drive past the company’s showrooms. And if our first drive of the new crossover is any indication, they just might be able to grab some of the folks who’d normally opt for more passionate brands, like BMW, with its compact X5, Audi, with the new Q5, Acura, with its RDX, or Volkswagen, with the oddly-named Tiguan.

The big grille, with that oversized Volvo logo, is flanked by a pair of upright daytime running lights, and sweeping headlamps that roll off into the fenders. The broad shoulders are familiar touches, found on a number of recent Volvo production models and concept vehicles, but the XC60 adds a cinched and sexy waistline. The roof is almost coupe-like, though it still provides a reasonable amount of headroom for rear seat passengers. The rear view might be the most familiar angle, distinctly Volvo with those broad shoulders and narrowed rear hatch.