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  #1  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:49 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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So, I took my X5 off-roading (long)...

After my wimpy off-road (mud) excursion in the rain last week, I decided to have some real fun and drive 90 miles to the Hungry Valley Off-Road Recreation Area near Gorman, California. This 9,000 acre off-road "park" has 127 miles of dirt trails that cross desert, mountain, and rock terrain. It is heaven for off-road use!

My X5 is completely stock (950 miles on it), riding on OEM Michelin MXV4 All-Season tires (the identical OEM tire model found on my Passat). Sized 235/65-17, they are engineered for low noise and long tread life, not off-road use. I was worried about their sidewalls getting cut. Luckily, they suffered no damage.

The day started with a drive to Frazier Park, located 8200 feet up in the Los Padres National Forest. I was looking for snow, and we found it once we cleared about 6500 ft. At the summit, the snow was about 24" deep. The X5 performed admirably in the snow and slush. As was pointed out to me in an earlier post, running in the snow was better (more traction) with DSC OFF.

After a couple hours tiring out my son in the snow, we drove down the mountain to the off-road area. Since it is technically a State Park, you pay a $4 "use fee" and they let you roam free.

At first I was very hesitant, keeping the X5 on the solid dirt. After a short time, I tried the sand river bed, and the car plowed through with little drama (I ran my tires at 36 psi all around the whole trip). Traction control never really come on unless I stopped, then gunned the throttle in the sand.

I then headed to the mountains. My first concern (and it turned out to be a real one) was wheelbase. The X5 has a 111 in. wheelbase, compared to 100 in. for the Discovery II (a Yukon has a 116 in. wheelbase). Combined with an 'average' ground clearance of 8" means I needed to be careful not to get high centered (when the bottom of the truck hits earth). I had to approach all hills at an angle or risk scraping undercarriage. Approach and departure angles are fine... it is just that long wheelbase that hurts you off-road.

The truck took to the hills like a goat. According to the manual, the X5 can climbs slopes of 50% (is that 45 degrees?), with a maximum side tilt of 50% too! Those are very impressive numbers. FYI, maximum water depth permitted is 20".

Unlike my '97 4Runner, there was no drama climbing. The best approach was about 5 mph and steady. Taction Control took over for a very deliberate, and consistent, climb. My 4Runner would peel out and drag it's way to the top. This was very different. The X5 never met a hill it couldn't climb (I chickened out first!).

Hill Descent Control is a no brainer. Hit the button, remove your foot from the pedals, and steer. ABS takes the car to 5 mph and rock steady. Pretty cool, no matter how steep the hill is. My wife got a kick out of it.

Overall, the truck (SAV?) was amazing. I was impressed with the electronic traction controls, both up and down the hills. An added benefit was to the tires. Since there was very little (if any) wheelspin, the tires were not cut at all. In all of my previous trips in Jeeps, Land Rovers, and Toyotas, wheelspin causes little slices (or chunking) in the treads as you off-road. The X5 tires look as if they never left the pavement.

Once home, I pulled out the pressure washer for a good two-hour hand car wash. It was worth the trouble!

(Pic: Overview of Hungry Valley)
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
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  #2  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:49 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Snow!
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:50 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Hills!
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
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  #4  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:50 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Dirt!
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  #5  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:51 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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All-Season tires. Awrg.
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read my work as West Coast Editor for Autoblog!
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  #6  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:52 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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My wife was unimpressed considering the truck has less than 1000 miles on it (it is her X5)!

It all vacuumed clean!
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__________________
I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:56 AM
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AB AB is offline
Don't worry, be happy
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Ever consider the radar detector hardwire? It is a relatively easy process.
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  #8  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:59 AM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ryan330Ci
Ever consider the radar detector hardwire? It is a relatively easy process.
Yes, it will be done. The truck is only two weeks old!

The other device on the dash is a Garmin eMap GPS.
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  #9  
Old 02-18-2003, 11:59 AM
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F1Crazy F1Crazy is offline
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Great review!

It looks like X5 is not a prestige grocery getter after all. It can tackle most of the off road/ off pavement tasks that you may encounter and still provides very decent on road performance.
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  #10  
Old 02-18-2003, 12:01 PM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Here's a plug for Cutter Motors!
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__________________
I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read my work as West Coast Editor for Autoblog!
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  #11  
Old 02-18-2003, 03:02 PM
FireFly FireFly is offline
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Great article, great review.

With 25+ inches of snow on the ground from last nights storm, I drove around to get a better feel for Hill Decent in my 330xi.

If you know you'll be going down a long hill (in this case it was ~1 mile downhill) it's best to hit HDC at the top of the hill, drive normally and as you come to corners which are slippery you can feel confident that HDC will take over.

First few times I used it in the past I only had it on for a few seconds, this time it was on for quite sometime- really nice feature
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  #12  
Old 02-18-2003, 03:20 PM
Mr Paddle.Shift Mr Paddle.Shift is offline
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nice one, Mike!

Do I hear off-roading in DV soon?
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  #13  
Old 02-18-2003, 04:59 PM
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Raffi Raffi is offline
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Great review Emission. I am more and more impressed by the X5, and especially the fact that you actually take it off-road and not just to haul grocery!
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  #14  
Old 02-18-2003, 05:31 PM
330iGT 330iGT is offline
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I think you are the first x5 to go off-roading, ever.

Very nice write-up, btw.
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  #15  
Old 02-18-2003, 06:29 PM
Jeff_DML Jeff_DML is offline
doh!!!
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That is a lot of snow for SoCal
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  #16  
Old 02-18-2003, 10:30 PM
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elbert elbert is offline
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Oh, c'mon people...that Audi allroad from a couple days ago tackled tougher terrain than that X5 did

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...threadid=21373

And I hope Emission wasn't comparing the X5's abilities to a Jeep or a 4Runner. A muddy trail is more "soft-road", not "off-road"
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  #17  
Old 02-18-2003, 10:53 PM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by elbert
Oh, c'mon people...that Audi allroad from a couple days ago tackled tougher terrain than that X5 did

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...threadid=21373

And I hope Emission wasn't comparing the X5's abilities to a Jeep or a 4Runner. A muddy trail is more "soft-road", not "off-road"
I compared the X5 to a Wrangler when I disussed tire wear during off-road trips. The Wrangler's I have ridden in use brute force, not technology, to climb. This often results in tire damage.

I then compared my previous generation ('97) 4Runner's AWD system (it was actually a part-time 4WD system) to my X5's AWD system. To put it bluntly, the 4Runner's 4WD sucked. Open diffs spin helplessly in dirt and loose gravel. The X5 would easily outclimb it.

My post points out how the BMW X5 is more than just a street princess. It can hold it's own off-road, on the highway, and on the track. I don't think the Audi All-Road can make that last claim.
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I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read my work as West Coast Editor for Autoblog!
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  #18  
Old 02-19-2003, 01:12 AM
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elbert elbert is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Emission
I compared the X5 to a Wrangler when I disussed tire wear during off-road trips. The Wrangler's I have ridden in use brute force, not technology, to climb. This often results in tire damage.

I then compared my previous generation ('97) 4Runner's AWD system (it was actually a part-time 4WD system) to my X5's AWD system. To put it bluntly, the 4Runner's 4WD sucked. Open diffs spin helplessly in dirt and loose gravel. The X5 would easily outclimb it.

My post points out how the BMW X5 is more than just a street princess. It can hold it's own off-road, on the highway, and on the track. I don't think the Audi All-Road can make that last claim.
And I think an allroad could hold it's own on a track over an X5 (as long as it isn't that special V12LM version)--lower CG, decent weight-to-power ratio. And I agree that the X5 has a decent blend of the three environments.

However, my point is the X5 seemed to do OK "offroad", to use the term loosely, because the relatively smooth, muddy terrain wasn't very challenging. After all, you did get by with all-season car tires, right?

On easy trails the X5's system, which uses the brakes, will seem superior because it is easier to drive. Too much wheelspin? Bad technique (although wheelspin can help tires shed mud off clogged treads). But get one wheel in the air and the X5 is no better than an open diff system. Yep, most 4WD system with open diffs will have problems. That's why limited slip diffs--which were available on 4Runners--were invented.

I guess it's all moot anyway since, as 330iGT pointed out, your X5 is probably the only one that had its four tires touch dirt on purpose.
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  #19  
Old 02-19-2003, 01:19 AM
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elbert elbert is offline
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percent grade

FYI, 50% grade is about 27 degrees. Percent grade is the vertical rise (in feet, meters, whatever) divided by the horizontal run.

For example, you go up 50 feet for every 100 feet forward, or 50% grade. So then arctan(50%)=arctan(0.5)=26.56 degrees.
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  #20  
Old 02-19-2003, 10:55 AM
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The HACK The HACK is offline
Rest in peace, Coach
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WTF?! An SUV owner actually taking an SUV OFF-ROAD like it was intended to do?

What's this world coming to? Next thing we know the Israeli's and Palestinians will be living in peace.

Nice write up Mike. Glad to see my sister in law isn't the only So Cal resident that actually take an SUV off road.
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  #21  
Old 02-19-2003, 01:40 PM
Akakubi Akakubi is offline
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Wow Mike, awesome! Glad to see X-5 in the wilderness.

You know the funny things is here in OR: BMW ACA held an off-roader driving school last year... not a single X5 showed up. In fact, there were no Bimmers on the trail at all. :lmao

Keep up the work!
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  #22  
Old 02-19-2003, 03:48 PM
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nate nate is offline
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It is time to get off road tires
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  #23  
Old 02-19-2003, 04:48 PM
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Emission Emission is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by nate328Ci
It is time to get off road tires
Yeah, some BF Goodrich Mud Diggers!

In reality, I'd rather beat a $8,000 CJ-7 in the mud than worry about the wife kicking my ass for scratching her X5.

The OEM Michelin tires are a compromise. Too soft for performance driving, and too wimpy for off-road traction. My replacements (if we can ever wear down the Michelin's) will be SUV Sport tires. We'll see.
__________________
I am fortunate to have unique press cars delivered weekly, but I own:

'13 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro 8AT
'86 Porsche 911 Turbo 4MT


Gone, but never forgotten... my E70 X5 35d, E90 335i, E46 330i, E36 328i, E70 X5 3.0si, E53 X5 3.0i.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read my work as West Coast Editor for Autoblog!
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