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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I wanted to share my recent towing experience on my 2014 X5. I researched a lot about the towing abilities of the truck before buying it. It sounded like most people were happy with it but I never found anybody posting about towing near its limits for any amount of distance. So throwing a bit of caution to the wind and trusting that the BMW would deliver I bought an X5 and started configuring it for towing. I learned just how much a few options really made a huge difference and hope others can benefit from my experience.

Vehicle: 2014 X5 35d
Note: The below options were key I think to making it a great tow vehicle. I am not sure what packages you need or how to order them. I just want to mention what was a factor in making it a great tow vehicle.

Key Options: Dynamic Handling, LED lighting w/european coding, 19inch w/all season tires, Backup camera, Multi-Contour seats and Active Cruise.

Hitch: Invisihitch with active harness and a weight distributing hitch.
Brake Controller: Prodigy RF

Travel Trailer: Keystone Outback Terrain 250 TRS
Specs: 27.5ft long and a GVWR of 7400

I drove to Omaha to pick up the trailer from Northern Ca. I got 32mpg on the way out to Omaha and that was an average speed of 79. It was a great drive and did it in two stages. The first being from home to Salt Lake City and the second being to Omaha. The truck was great on the drive and I am very pleased with the vehicle. I am coming from a 2011 535i so the interior was very similar and I noticed I really liked sitting a bit higher in the X5. Even after driving 1600+ miles in two days I was relaxed and and creature comforts of the X5 made it easy. The LED lights on the highway with the european coding and Auto-Assist worked amazingly. They are so bright that I thought for sure people would be flashing me. But they are so active in moving around and turning each side on and off that it just worked. At one point I commented to my friend that they might be too bright on the signs.

I hit tornado's, hail and thunderstorms in Omaha but I avoided them and just stopped driving when the weather turned bad. So I am going to leave all that part out of this post.

Preparation:
I was very worried about the trailer being too heavy, too long and the X5 simply not being able to tow it. The trailer was delivered to my hotel and I began setting up the hitch to tow. The delivery guy started to help me backup to the trailer. I told him I did not need his help and he just laughed and expected me to ram the trailer into the X5 for sure I think. But with the zoom feature on the backup camera I was able to back up without even looking backwards and placed the tow ball exactly under the trailer. That feature alone was invaluable because it allows you to setup hitch up alone. For anyone who has tried to aline the tow ball with your spouse it often ends in arguments. When the trailer was connected to the X5 I was not sure what to expect. But the leveling suspension worked perfectly and it did not sag at all and the trailer was completely level. I tried to pair the Prodigy Brake controller with my car and it simply would not work. I was able to pair t to other vehicles and it has something to do with the signal that is sent down the line to turn on the brake lights. I got around this by making a simple device made up of a 7-pin trailer plug, acc adapter, toggle switch and a small spool of wire. All the parts ran about $12 and took me about 10 minutes to assemble. It was just a matter of supplying +12v, ground and a brake light signal when needed. The Invisihitch worked great and the wiring was as easy as plugging it in. I checked all the lights and performed a quick walk around to make sure everything was ready.

Towing:
I am not going to list in order when I leaned about what it does well and needs improvement. I don't think anybody is interested in hearing about my trip's details. So lets get down to what matters. On the highway with little to no wind you don't even know the trailer is behind you. One thing that I did learn was to set the handling to Sport an configure it to only setup the chassis and not the drive train. The tightening of the suspension made a HUGE difference and almost completely eliminates the flexing up and down of the trailer as you drive down the rode. The difference was amazing makes getting that option a MUST if you plan on towing. The Prodigy controller is wireless and does not involve any hard wiring to the X5. Because of that the controller can sit in your lap. If I started to feel the wind pick up I just held it and a quick tap of the gas and controller manual button whipped things right back into shape. There was a few times that a gust of wind would come up and toss the trailer around a bit. But I was driving through Tornado Alley at 4pm and I expected to get some wind. Looking back at it I would not recommend that to anyone though. I had people come up to me at almost every gas stop and ask me how it towed or commented that I was crazy.

On the drive I had to go over a few large peaks. One was right outside of Salt Lake City and the other one just past Truckee. The X5 did not disappoint and I was able to past most everything going up the hills at 65MPH. I just left the cruise control on and motored up the hills. The temperature did rise a bit when I was going up the big hills but it never got over 3/4 on the gauge and quickly dropped when reaching the summit. The drive down the hills was not quite as comfortable. With the shorter wheel base of the X5 and the weight difference you need to be careful and take it slow. I often used the term "Slow is Pro" when boating and the same thing applied to towing. The overall milage I got on the way home was 15MPG. It made for a lot more fuel stops than I would have liked but since most vehicles get 8MOG when towing I was very pleased. Diesel was under $4.00 for most of the trip. I really liked and used the Active Cruise Control. I often just pulled behind a big rig and set the cruise.

Things that need improving:

1. MIRRORS!

I tried 4 different styles of mirrors and nothing really worked well. It was not a huge issue on the highway but getting though the city streets and in traffic was a nightmare. I know they half slip on mirrors for the older X5 and hoping they come out with ones for the F15 really soon. If anyone has a good solution that works wih a 8ft wide trailer please let me know.

2. Hitch with Sway-Bar

This was not the X5's fault but my own. The wind moving the trailer around was the only really stressful time in town with the X5 and I am hoping a sway-bay on the hitch will solve this. I hope to install one in the next week and will update when I do.

Wrap-Up:

The X5 is a very comfortable and capable tow vehicle. I was towing within 500lbs of its limits and other than the wind on occasions it performed like a rock star. Just solve the mirror problem before you head out. I want to point out that I had never towed anything larger that a pair of Ski's before this trip and only a few times at that.

Clay

UPDATE:

Since posting this I have learned a few things that might help someone else towing with the X5. A few days after getting back from Omaha I needed to reinstall the 2 inch receiver into the Invisihitch to move the trailer. However I could not get the receiver to click back into place. I had taken it immediately after getting back and could not figure out what the problem was. I climbed under the back of the truck and the knob that you rotate to release was stuck and I could not move it. I could also see severe wear marks on the inside near the locking bar. I wrote Daryl at Invisihitch right away and expressed my concern.

Daryl wrote back right away and sent new pieces via Fedex. After exchanging emails we determined that the likely cause was that the Weight Distributing Hitch I was using was moving the pivot point out too far from the vehicle. Since I had the air suspension I agreed to remove it for my next trip that was coming in a few days. I mounted a standard Friction Based Anti-Sway Device. I did have to have a piece welded onto the side of the Invisihitch Ball Mount for this to work. Daryl's idea was that eliminating the receiver and using the Ball Mount would put things back within Invisihitch***8217;s specs. The X5's leveling system worked great and the height of the back measured with and without the trailer was exactly the same. I headed out on another 600 mile trip a little nervous I have to admit.

The trip went great and we had no trouble towing and no other damage or issues with the hitch. I have heard back from Invisihitch and after extensive testing and analysis they are going to be changing a few things as well as looking at what is supported with the hitch. So please make sure anyone that is going to tow with the X5 follows the recommendations of whatever hitch you choose. Myself I am very happy with Invisihitch and would continue to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a hitch solution.

Clay
 

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Hi, . . .

Key Options: Dynamic Handling, LED lighting w/european coding, 19inch w/all season tires, Backup camera, Multi-Contour seats and Active Cruise. . . . .
Clay
Nice write up!

Does the European coding make the headlights work exactly like they do in the European version of the F15? i.e. like in video included below? Second, assuming your F15 is built to American spec, did this change involve *ONLY* coding and *no* hardware changes or swaps? I am assuming you got the coding done post purchase and was not done by a dealer - doubt they will do something that makes it not street-legal in the U.S.

Thanks.

http://youtu.be/Tajs8sqfOQY
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I only had to do the coding aspect to to get the results you see in the video. On one recent trip that I happen to be following my wife I turned them on and she said that as oncoming traffic comes the light actually both move and high beams on just one side will turn off.

Clay
 

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Thanks.

I think the OP's claim in the other thread is - I think - the person started without the LED option and that meant - first get the LED option (hardware) and then the de-code. If you factory order the LED option then, as you indicate, only a de-code is necessary.
 

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Clayhooper - thanks for the awesome information, you are a brave man!!!! Hope the hale did not damage your paint job...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
While in Omaha during the storms I moved my car to an underground parking structure at a hospital a few blocks from my hotel to make sure I did not get any hail damage. The next day I was in Laramie, Wy and convinced the hotel manager to let me put it under the entryway to protect it. He said it looked good sitting out front. I have never seen it rain as hard as I did while in Omaha. They said 9 inches came down in one hour. It was a lot of water.

Clay
 

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Clay, thanks for the report. I have a 2013 X5d with an Invisihitch. Looking at buying an Airstream that has max trailer wt of 6000# and 600# tongue wt. Want to use a weight distributing set up. Would be curious to see how you sat yours up.
Cheers, Jim
 
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