how's the x5 in the snow?

04-10-2003, 11:51 AM
OK, I posted earlier about my thinking about getting an X5. For those who missed my post, I currently drive a 95 4Runner. It's five-speed manual, with a separate transfer case for Hi-4 and Lo-4 wheel drive. I haven't been offroad (or used Lo-4) in 6 years.

I do use Hi-4 here in Kansas City in the winter, mostly because the city doesn't plow my street, ever (not exactly sure what my city income tax goes for, but that's a different story). Anyway, I've read everything I can about how my kind of selectable 4WD differs from AWD, but what it really comes down to is actual usage, and I didn't start thinking about this until after the weather turned to spring. At the pace my interest in a new vehicle is growing, I won't be waiting until winter to test this out before making a purchase.

On snow days, my wheels on my 4Runner will spin on the street, and I can't gain traction until I put the vehicle into Hi-4. Then I'm off with no trouble. So.....

Can a current X5 owner who drives in a snow area respond to my question - What is it like to use the X5 as a daily driver in snowy areas?

04-10-2003, 01:36 PM
The X5 and 3-series (all-wheel-drive models) all use the same AWD system.

I owned a 4WD 1997 4Runner SR-5, and took it in the snow. I currently own a 2003 X5, and have also had it in the snow. The X5 did much better!

The 4Runner we both owned has open differentials. This means one wheel can spin if it hits a slippery surface. That system is very "old fashioned" and is no longer used on the 4Runner. I got my 4Runner stuck when both right wheels were on ice, and the left wheels on concrete. It was pretty embarassing! In later years (1999?), the 4Runner went with a better AWD system to prevent this.

The X5 is always in all-wheel-drive mode for traction. It also has a Traction Control system that will apply the brakes to a single spinning wheel, and the power will be transfered to the wheel with traction. It is transparent to the driver (but does feel like it is "pulsing" at bit). In any case, the X5 just plows forward. I've taken my X5 in slush, ice, mud, etc... and it just keeps going - only limited by the all-season tires.

The X5 also has a Stability system that will help you keep the car straight on slippery surfaces.

In a nutshell, the X5 (and AWD 3-series) are about perfect for snowy streets.

04-14-2003, 09:29 PM
Hi -

I'm a frequent Roadfly user.. just discovered this board over here...

Regarding the X5 in the snow.. I've got an '03 X5 4.4 with the Sport Package 18's and Contintental tires. Living in Upstate NY, we had two major snowfalls this Winter of over 2 feet each. I was out in both of them with the X and it performed unbelievably well.. I couldn't get it to spin (and trust me - I tried). It's one of the safest, best handling vehicles I've had.

Check out my Home Page ( for some pics of the X5 in the snow...

04-15-2003, 06:13 AM
Thanks for the response. Loved the snow pix as well!

I picked up my X5 on Saturday, and although I believe everything I've read and heard about the snow traction, it drives soooooo much nicer than my last vehicle (95 4Runner) that it's hard to believe it's going to be good in bad weather. If I ignore the ride height difference, it seems like I'm sitting in my husband's 330i, and of course that's not good in the snow!