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X5 E70 (2007 - 2013)
E70 BMW X5 produced between 2007 and 2013. Discuss the E70 X5 with other BMW owners here.

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  #1  
Old 09-30-2013, 08:33 AM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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Mein Auto: 2011 X5 35d E70
Post Towing in the CO Rocky Mountains

Okay, so this is a bit long, and is geared toward anyone considering towing in the mountains or questioning the suitability of an X5 to tow. I have summarized my experience below from the first trip towing over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado on a recent long weekend with the family. I purchased a 2011 X5d this past month following the purchase of a 22' Airstream International CCD. I wanted a good daily driver capable of safely towing up and over the Colorado Rockies. We live in Denver and enjoy spending time on the Western slope. This trip is about 4 hrs spent largely on fairly steep ascents and descents at elevation.

Following the purchase of the X5d, I went through the process of determining the best hitch option and learning about the electronic brake controller required for use of the brakes on the Airstream. Whether it was a line of sales talk or not, I also decided to go with the BMW hitch and brake controller to ease future claims/repairs/maintenance with the extended service contract and maintenance plan I purchased with the vehicle. I have the maintenance out to 6 yr/100k mi and service contract "wrap" (also covers electrical, etc) extended out to 7 years. Neither was cheap, but I plan to tow, and the maintenance also covers the brakes...one complete brake job nearly offsets the cost of the plan.

So, to report on how the X5 did pulling the trailer -
2011 X5d CWP, PP, 3rd row, CA, w/BMW OEM hitch and controller
2003 Airstream International CCD
published dry weight = 4210 lb, GVWR = 5000 lb, hitch weight = 600 lb

I am guessing I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 4600-4700 lb there and back. My initial impression around town was that I felt the movement from the hitch push, bump, etc. After setting up the brake controller as recommended, the trailer behaved much better around town, to the point it was only on big bumps/humps that I felt it a little and really felt very good overall. Heading up the mountains from Denver, I-70 turns up and is very steep from the start. I found the X5 was fairly comfortable maintaining 70 mph although it was working pretty hard, pedal down and turning close to 4k rpm. On the steepest grades, this was the norm with rpms climbing up over 4k on a couple of occasions. There were a couple of times the traffic slowed a bit and I had to get back up to speed on sections with steep grade. The X5 did it - although it seemed like a slow process, I looked around me at those times to realize it was doing better than some of the passenger vehicles who were not towing or loaded. Those were the places that some vehicles have trouble just maintaining speed with their own weight.

Braking was very good. I think this may be primarily due to the brakes on the trailer and the setup with the brake controller. After setting up the brake controller gain, I set the boost to level one. On the return trip, weekend traffic was fairly bad coming back down into town. There was nearly an hour of stop and go traffic through some of the steep descents. The X5 and trailer responded very well even during a couple of those quick stops when the person in front of me wasn't paying attention.

Wind was the only thing that caused me to have a "Whoa" moment. When we drove over, there were signs warning of Gusting High Winds. I felt this a couple of times, and it seemed to be very minimal if I dropped my speed to 70 mph.

Some additional thoughts and comments - There were times when I was up in the more rolling sections of the mountains when I looked down to realize I was at 80 mph. This was generally in a flattish section, and I attribute it to the fact that the X5 had ample power on the highway to pull the trailer, and the trailer was solid and pulled well. I thought the stock hitch install would look terrible after reading the posts regarding the aftermarket options. My first impression was wow, it actually looks pretty clean. Second, the stock brake controller (rebranded prodigy) is a pretty smart and functional design. The service department installed the controller so that it can be pulled from the cup holder and stowed away when not in use. Although the wires are a bit stiff and make the harness a bit difficult to unplug, it is a very clean and functional option. They left the rubber insert intact, and this is removed and replaced, covering the wiring harness/plug that is carefully pushed back down below the access hole below the driver's side cup holder. There was a lot of confusion at the dealer regarding the price to charge for the hitch install as well as the brake controller. They initially wanted to charge 4.5 hrs for the hitch and 2.5 for the brake controller. I pulled up the BMW NA installation guides for each which display 3.5 hrs for the hitch and 1.25 for the controller. I also pulled the retail prices for each part on the BMW site. They matched everything except for the hitch install labor time. The stock hitch seems to be a bit of a sore spot with service departments. I worked with the sales manager to sort this all out and learned this dealership was quoting different times from one service rep to the next. Anyway, the service manager used this confusion as an opportunity to clarify to everyone in their shop that 3.5 hrs was the standard they use. Evidently BMW publishes those times for their accessories and can be significantly different than what is required or even what is shown in their book of times to charge for each job. Total paid $855 parts + 4.75 hrs @ $128/hr ~ $1,500. Also, I recorded mileage and gas for each fill up along the way, and while pulling, I believe I got pretty close to 14 mpg. I'll plug the numbers into the recent app I put on my phone and post them this week. The X5 did throw a check engine light up after my final fill up about 1.5 hr from home. It stayed on, and I plan to have it checked sometime in the coming week. There weren't any obvious changes in acceleration, etc, so I'll post more after I have it checked out.

Anyway, hopefully some of this info is helpful. The X5 does not have the torque of the big V8 diesel engines, but for a daily driver that doesn't drive like a big truck, it exceeded my expectations. Compared to the Ford F250 King Ranch Powerstroke that I recently towed with for nearly 2k miles with, the X5 is so much more enjoyable to drive...towing or not.
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Last edited by CO_roadie; 10-02-2013 at 08:09 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2013, 09:12 AM
blue dragon blue dragon is online now
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Glad you had a safe tow. You could try the JBD if you need a little more oomph.
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  #3  
Old 09-30-2013, 06:16 PM
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dcharnet dcharnet is offline
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i have a 35i. In early March of 2012 I towed my race car in a covered trailer from the midwest to my engine builder in Cortez, Colorado. Dead weight was around 4500 to 5000 or so, which included four passengers and their alpine and mountaineering skis and gear---more weight than I wanted. The weather was terrible, with high head winds and snow and ice much of the way. The trip included many high mountain passes through the Rockies down to the Four Corners area. The gas turbo X5 had no problem handling the load, and the chassis was stable in these very difficult conditions. I have the BMW hitch and a Prodigy trailer-mounted controller. High marks to the X5 as a tow vehicle.

Last edited by dcharnet; 09-30-2013 at 06:18 PM.
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  #4  
Old 10-01-2013, 01:40 PM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue dragon View Post
Glad you had a safe tow. You could try the JBD if you need a little more oomph.
Thanks - not sure I want to make that jump just yet. Just getting to know the SA at the dealership and still have 75k mi of warranty remaining. Those are impressive gains though...
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  #5  
Old 10-01-2013, 01:48 PM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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Location: Colorado
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcharnet View Post
i have a 35i. In early March of 2012 I towed my race car in a covered trailer from the midwest to my engine builder in Cortez, Colorado. Dead weight was around 4500 to 5000 or so, which included four passengers and their alpine and mountaineering skis and gear---more weight than I wanted. The weather was terrible, with high head winds and snow and ice much of the way. The trip included many high mountain passes through the Rockies down to the Four Corners area. The gas turbo X5 had no problem handling the load, and the chassis was stable in these very difficult conditions. I have the BMW hitch and a Prodigy trailer-mounted controller. High marks to the X5 as a tow vehicle.
It's impressive that the 35i handled it that well.
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  #6  
Old 10-01-2013, 03:20 PM
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Kamdog Kamdog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcharnet View Post
i have a 35i. In early March of 2012 I towed my race car in a covered trailer from the midwest to my engine builder in Cortez, Colorado. Dead weight was around 4500 to 5000 or so, which included four passengers and their alpine and mountaineering skis and gear---more weight than I wanted. The weather was terrible, with high head winds and snow and ice much of the way. The trip included many high mountain passes through the Rockies down to the Four Corners area. The gas turbo X5 had no problem handling the load, and the chassis was stable in these very difficult conditions. I have the BMW hitch and a Prodigy trailer-mounted controller. High marks to the X5 as a tow vehicle.
If you have that many passengers and all that dead weight, I would have thought you could have sent a hearse and just went with a 135i Convertible.

Unless I am getting some terms wrong.
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  #7  
Old 10-01-2013, 05:14 PM
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dcharnet dcharnet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamdog View Post
If you have that many passengers and all that dead weight, I would have thought you could have sent a hearse and just went with a 135i Convertible.

Unless I am getting some terms wrong.
The weight was dead, as it always is except in space; the passengers not.
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  #8  
Old 10-02-2013, 07:56 AM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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Fuel Efficiency

If anyone is curious about fuel efficiency while towing, here is a quick record of the trip. I fueled up multiple times on the trip over to break out the initial climb up the mountains, down the mountains, and the remaining drive across the western side which was mostly rolling. The first 63 miles towing up the mountains, it got 12.8 mpg. The next 109 miles, driving up and down at elevation through the mountains, it got 17 mpg. Coming down and driving across mostly flattish rolling road for the next 180 miles, it got 17.2 mpg. The data for the trip back consists of only one fuel up after climbing up the mountains and before the descent; 186 miles @ 13.7 mpg. Not including the final descent back down into Denver (probably ~17 mpg), the trip average was 15.2 mpg. I will take it - particularly since I was deciding between the 50 and 35d. I would likely be getting something close to that in the 50 when not towing...but then again, I would probably have just a little more fun in the 50.
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Last edited by CO_roadie; 10-02-2013 at 08:04 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-02-2013, 09:07 AM
rodnjen rodnjen is offline
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Excellent review and all good news for 35d owners in my opinion. My nieghbe has the V8 and it really suites HIS driving style. My wife has the 35d and it really suits HER driving style. For us it was the 35d hanks down.

I have yet to tow our 21' ski boat, roughly 4100 lbs. dry but I'm sure it will go smoothly. I only intned to use the X5 for launching and retrieving at the lake about 5 miles away.
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  #10  
Old 10-02-2013, 10:31 AM
MudyOvl MudyOvl is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue dragon View Post
Glad you had a safe tow. You could try the JBD if you need a little more oomph.

Has anyone installed a JBD into their X5? Were there any issues? Were the gains noticeable and were you happy?

Thanks,
Chris D.
'09 X5 xDrive35d
'05 Cayenne
'95 LR Disco I
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  #11  
Old 10-02-2013, 11:16 AM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodnjen View Post
Excellent review and all good news for 35d owners in my opinion. My nieghbe has the V8 and it really suites HIS driving style. My wife has the 35d and it really suits HER driving style. For us it was the 35d hanks down.

I have yet to tow our 21' ski boat, roughly 4100 lbs. dry but I'm sure it will go smoothly. I only intned to use the X5 for launching and retrieving at the lake about 5 miles away.
Based on my drive this past weekend, I am sure you won't have any issues.
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  #12  
Old 10-03-2013, 06:37 AM
jesus_man jesus_man is offline
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Thanks for posting up. I don't have any plans for ours to do any pulling duty, but it's nice to know it can. I am amazed at your MPG numbers. Better than I expected. I pulled those same passes many a time, but in one of the V8 Diesel trucks with a fair amount more weight behind. But that truck was NOT stock.
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  #13  
Old 01-20-2014, 08:08 PM
Westlotorn Westlotorn is offline
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Your mileage numbers are incredible considering your speed. Towing at 70-80 in mountains will really kill MPG. Heck Towing at those speeds on the flat interstate can drop your MPG by 3mpg vs traveling at 60-65.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2014, 12:24 AM
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Nube1kenobi Nube1kenobi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamdog View Post
If you have that many passengers and all that dead weight, I would have thought you could have sent a hearse and just went with a 135i Convertible.

Unless I am getting some terms wrong.
Damn. I miss this humor from you Dog.
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2011 X5 35i Sport Activity|Plat Gray/Beige/Dk Poplar|Conv Pkg|Cold WX Pkg|Tech Pkg|Prem Sound|Comfort Seats|Hitch|
2008 535i Mon Blue/Dakota Blk/Dk Poplar|Sports Pkg|Prem Pkg|Cold WX Pkg|Nav|RTTI|PDC|L7|HD|I-Pod/USB|PWR Rr shade|Sports Auto - paddles|Active Stg|Comfort Access|F/D R/seats|Rr DMS Airbags|Adaptive Xenons

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  #15  
Old 01-21-2014, 06:38 AM
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Kamdog Kamdog is offline
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Damn. I miss this humor from you dog.

:d
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Last edited by Kamdog; 01-21-2014 at 06:39 AM.
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  #16  
Old 01-21-2014, 09:02 AM
blue dragon blue dragon is online now
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Interesting discussion about towing going on, then Kamdog came along

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Old 01-21-2014, 07:42 PM
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LOL. She's going to wear that chair out!
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  #18  
Old 01-23-2014, 03:25 PM
CO_roadie CO_roadie is offline
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MPG while Towing at Interstate Speed

A little FYI on the fuel consumption while towing. I took it from CO to TX with the Airstream over the Christmas Holidays. It looks like it prefers the mountains to the flats. I was on highway with much of it 75 mph. As long as it wasn't windy, the trailer pulled at ~ 80 mph without any trouble, but the fuel consumption sunk into the 11-13.5 mpg range. Drag vs speed is not linear. Although I was bw 65-75 mph when I took it up in the mountains last year, the extra speed really ate into the mpg on the recent trip...and no downhill freebee sections. I was hoping for better.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:03 AM
jesus_man jesus_man is offline
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I experienced the same, but with a totally different rig. Since elevation has a much smaller effect on Forced Induction engines, wind drag is your killer and the air in TX is much more dense than in CO. At least that's my take. I could get around 13.5mpg in my F-350 pulling 7k in CO. That exact same load in TX cost me 2MPG on average.
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