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Discussion Starter #1
I've spent hours looking through threads and can't find the answer, can someone explain what change to the driving characteristics occur when the standard XDrive suspension receives the "Rear Axle Air Suspension" as part of the Third Row Seat option?

As part of the DHP and DDC options, BMW makes it clear on their website that the Rear Axle Air Suspension is "tuned to deliver exceptionally sporty driving characteristics".

But as part of the 3rd Row Seat & Rear Axle Air Suspension option, BMW's description merely says "make room for more passengers with the convenience of another row of seating".

We are getting an XDrive 35i this week, have to buy off the lot because of timing, getting DHP or DDC aren't possible, and we need the third row seat for times when we have a few extra passengers. But I am not understanding if we are sacrificing driving dynamics with a softer ride to do that (would be disappointing) or if the Air Suspension actually makes things firmer (would be a good thing).

Can anyone explain this for those getting 3rd Row Seating once and for all?
 

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I've spent hours looking through threads and can't find the answer, can someone explain what change to the driving characteristics occur when the standard XDrive suspension receives the "Rear Axle Air Suspension" as part of the Third Row Seat option?

As part of the DHP and DDC options, BMW makes it clear on their website that the Rear Axle Air Suspension is "tuned to deliver exceptionally sporty driving characteristics".

But as part of the 3rd Row Seat & Rear Axle Air Suspension option, BMW's description merely says "make room for more passengers with the convenience of another row of seating".

We are getting an XDrive 35i this week, have to buy off the lot because of timing, getting DHP or DDC aren't possible, and we need the third row seat for times when we have a few extra passengers. But I am not understanding if we are sacrificing driving dynamics with a softer ride to do that (would be disappointing) or if the Air Suspension actually makes things firmer (would be a good thing).

Can anyone explain this for those getting 3rd Row Seating once and for all?
I'm currently waiting on my 35i to be built and I got the third row. I also got the Adaptive M suspension. From what I understand, the rear air suspension on the models with a third row is added to keep the car level when there is extra weight on the back end of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm currently waiting on my 35i to be built and I got the third row. I also got the Adaptive M suspension. From what I understand, the rear air suspension on the models with a third row is added to keep the car level when there is extra weight on the back end of the car.
Ours won't have the Adaptive M suspension and I have not come across a post on this forum or the other one that describes someone with an X35i without any of the fancy DHP, DDC, Adaptive M, etc. and just the stock-standard suspension and the 3rd Row Seat option.

I agree that my understanding is that the Rear Axle Air Suspension is intended to keep the car level with extra weight, but I don't understand if that makes passengers in the car more or less carsick or if it makes the car more or less fun in the corners. That's what I am hoping to find out! I read that there is more than just an airbag, it's an entirely different suspension in the rear.
 

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Currently the rear air suspension really makes the ride more smoother and less transmitting vibration from the roads in the car. I have the dynamic dampers and rear air suspensions and wow this X5d feels super smooth on the city roads and highway more than my Ml350 with airmatic and makes the car glass smooth with good body control on turns vs the standard sloppy and rough steel suspension. I dont feel nauseated as in the regular X5 on steel suspension which has lousy body roll more than the average SUV on the road and alot of vibration in the chassis from those runcraps. I have non-runflat michelin all season tires and they are far superior then the runflats that came with this. The X5 with 3rd row and rear air suspension is a horrible horrible combo. Too much body roll with the rear air suspensions. Thus the dynamic dampers is a must with the rear air suspension to keep the body roll in control with good dampening on rough roads and keeping the car planted. I am not sure why BMW made this more complicated then it should be but unfortunately thats BMW.

Though I did order it with the spare wheel which I dont know if you can get it with the 3rd row. If you want driving dynamics then this X5 is not for you especially the 3rd row. I would consider the new Audi Q7 which you can get 3rd row and an amazing suspension set up (air suspension with more adjustments).
 

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Currently the rear air suspension really makes the ride more smoother and less transmitting vibration from the roads in the car. I have the dynamic dampers and rear air suspensions and wow this X5d feels super smooth on the city roads and highway more than my Ml350 with airmatic and makes the car glass smooth with good body control on turns vs the standard sloppy and rough steel suspension. I dont feel nauseated as in the regular X5 on steel suspension which has lousy body roll more than the average SUV on the road and alot of vibration in the chassis from those runcraps. I have non-runflat michelin all season tires and they are far superior then the runflats that came with this. The X5 with 3rd row and rear air suspension is a horrible horrible combo. Too much body roll with the rear air suspensions. Thus the dynamic dampers is a must with the rear air suspension to keep the body roll in control with good dampening on rough roads and keeping the car planted. I am not sure why BMW made this more complicated then it should be but unfortunately thats BMW.

Though I did order it with the spare wheel which I dont know if you can get it with the 3rd row. If you want driving dynamics then this X5 is not for you especially the 3rd row. I would consider the new Audi Q7 which you can get 3rd row and an amazing suspension set up (air suspension with more adjustments).
I think the problem though is, as sonofbj said, there do not seem to be many who have the the air suspension only (that is forced on you when you get the third row), without some form of upgraded suspension purchase... either adaptive M or the DHP.

There are probably plenty of cars like that, but not many that have posted about it.

sonofbj, check post 5 by kzang in the following thread:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=919575&highlight=

It has a chart that he got from bimmerpost that shows comfort vs sportiness in suspensions... not exactly what you are looking for but it is some info.
 

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I think the problem though is, as sonofbj said, there do not seem to be many who have the the air suspension only (that is forced on you when you get the third row), without some form of upgraded suspension purchase... either adaptive M or the DHP.

There are probably plenty of cars like that, but not many that have posted about it.

sonofbj, check post 5 by kzang in the following thread:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=919575&highlight=

It has a chart that he got from bimmerpost that shows comfort vs sportiness in suspensions... not exactly what you are looking for but it is some info.
I agree with jjrandorin! The chart is the best comparison and I totally feel that the chart is an accurate representation with the exception that the new Q7 is far smoother then the older one but I cannot be 100% sure because i only drove the Q7 with the standard suspension vs my 2015 X5 with the DDC and rear air suspension which is smoother then the ML350, Q7, and Cayenne but I am not sure how much more smoother the Q7 with the air suspension is..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The X5 with 3rd row and rear air suspension is a horrible horrible combo. Too much body roll with the rear air suspensions. Thus the dynamic dampers is a must with the rear air suspension to keep the body roll in control with good dampening on rough roads and keeping the car planted.
Have you owned an X5 with the 3rd row option without dynamic dampers to know that it's a "horrible horrible combo"? Can you tell me where you have gotten this information? My dad can back out of the purchase if he needs to.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree with jjrandorin! The chart is the best comparison and I totally feel that the chart is an accurate representation with the exception that the new Q7 is far smoother then the older one but I cannot be 100% sure because i only drove the Q7 with the standard suspension vs my 2015 X5 with the DDC and rear air suspension which is smoother then the ML350, Q7, and Cayenne but I am not sure how much more smoother the Q7 with the air suspension is..
I'm sorry baloo but you are confusing me. In your first post you said that an X5 with only the 3rd Seat option and its accompanying Rear Axle Air Suspension is awful and now you are saying that you only have driven your X5 with DDC?

The Q7 and Cayenne are not part of the decision. I'm just looking to hear from people who have driven or currently own a very simple configuration- stock X5, 3rd Row option, no other suspension enhancements. Are you that person or no?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think the problem though is, as sonofbj said, there do not seem to be many who have the the air suspension only (that is forced on you when you get the third row), without some form of upgraded suspension purchase... either adaptive M or the DHP.

There are probably plenty of cars like that, but not many that have posted about it.

sonofbj, check post 5 by kzang in the following thread:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=919575&highlight=

It has a chart that he got from bimmerpost that shows comfort vs sportiness in suspensions... not exactly what you are looking for but it is some info.
Thanks jj, I read 10+ pages of search results on both forums for "3rd row air suspension", came across that chart, and two things:

1. When asked where that chart came from and what data was used no one supplied an answer. Many thought it was made by BMW as a tool for sales people and some thought it was some marketing ploy.

2. It shows several configurations, but I do not believe it covers the stock standard suspension X5 with the 3rd Row option which has (from what I can tell) a different suspension than the known ones like a) no 3rd row, b) DHP, c) Adaptive M, d) DDC, etc.

I know this is a performance forum for high speed drivers mostly but in this case all I'm trying to find out is if my mom is going to be driving a car that is worse than her Honda Odyssey and if it's going to make my little brothers sick to their stomachs from body roll and stuff.
 

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I can't understand buying a car that you have not test driven at least twice with the loads you expect to carry. Driving sensations are extremely subjective. Reading about others' reactions is a pretty chancy way to make a buying decision. I think my stock X5 suspension is fine for 90% of my driving. Others say their stock suspension is terrible. Same suspension, different reactions. The one common input is that the 3rd row is minimal at best and that may explain the scarcity of responses.

If I needed a 3rd row based on the cars I have personally test driven, I'd look at the new Mercedes. It's built to be a 3 row vehicle from onset. Unlike the X5 where the 3rd row is almost an afterthought. Another choice would be the Lexus GX. If my vehicle would be carrying a bunch of young children, I'd buy a Honda minivan.
 

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can someone explain what change to the driving characteristics occur when the standard XDrive suspension receives the "Rear Axle Air Suspension" as part of the Third Row Seat option?
Well its not a sports car mod, you get a couple of air springs instead of coil springs in the rear, plus the compressor, plumbing, sensors, etc. Shocks are separate from the springs for both the standard and rear air suspension.

The main advantage with the air spring is if you load people in the 3rd row, or cargo, or when towing a trailer if the rear of the X5 sags the air springs can be pumped up to level the rear of the vehicle vs the coils springs cannot. The disadvantage is when the air system fails the suspension sags several inches and will be in limp mode at best or may leave you stranded.

From BMW's site



From a parts site for the F15

 

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I can't understand buying a car that you have not test driven at least twice with the loads you expect to carry. Driving sensations are extremely subjective. Reading about others' reactions is a pretty chancy way to make a buying decision. I think my stock X5 suspension is fine for 90% of my driving. Others say their stock suspension is terrible. Same suspension, different reactions. The one common input is that the 3rd row is minimal at best and that may explain the scarcity of responses.

If I needed a 3rd row based on the cars I have personally test driven, I'd look at the new Mercedes. It's built to be a 3 row vehicle from onset. Unlike the X5 where the 3rd row is almost an afterthought. Another choice would be the Lexus GX. If my vehicle would be carrying a bunch of young children, I'd buy a Honda minivan.
Like you my standard suspension works just fine for me. Agree on the 3rd row seats, just look at the rear door and try to imagine an adult trying to climb behind the 2nd row seat its not happening. Teenagers are not going to climb back there either. I also personally feel it wouldn't be that safe for anyone to sit back there in a rear end collision.

I'm also not impressed with the dynamic adaptive puffed up language they use to describe the upgraded suspension. BMW seems pretty tight lipped about what you are actually getting. It looks like old style adjustable shocks plus adjustable sway bars. This is not a cutting edge magnetic ride suspension that adjusts 1,000 times a second it looks like you just get 3 settings, comfort, sport, sport +. Its better than nothing I guess but its hardly cutting edge.
 

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Have you owned an X5 with the 3rd row option without dynamic dampers to know that it's a "horrible horrible combo"? Can you tell me where you have gotten this information? My dad can back out of the purchase if he needs to.
Its not that bad of a combo. I drove one on the lot with the 3rd row seat and rear air suspension and it road nice and is comfortable but it has the body roll of the standard suspension. Since I didnt need the 3rd row seat I told my dealer after looking at the chart of the different suspension options and went with the DDC and rear air suspension without the 3rd row seat and the X5 feels more composed. My cousin has a X5 with standard suspension so I can tell a huge difference in the ride and handling between the standard suspension and the DDC with rear air suspension.

If I was to rank the
Ride from top down: DDC w/rear air > rear air only > standard suspension
Handling: DDC w/rear air >> rear air suspension only = standard
 

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I guess I'm one of the few who has a 35i xdrive with the 3rd row seating option and no other suspension upgrades. This is our first BMW and we bought it off the lot. We only test drove the car we ended up buying so I cannot say how different the other models felt. All I know is that about a month ago I drove it about 1600 miles to Niagara Falls and back and it was the smoothest ride i've ever been in, but then again I'm not one to go for a 'spirited drive' around corners in a SUV. I have my 350z for that.
 

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The Adaptive M Suspension gives you dynamic damper control and rear axle air suspension. With third row seats you automatically get the rear axle air suspension, so if you order the third row seats and Adaptive M Suspension, you're adding the dynamic damper control. The rear axle air suspensions job is to keep the car level during heavy loads ( when 3rd row seats are occupied ). And that is all it does.

If you are looking for handling aspects of the suspension whether it is sporty or comfort settings, then you need DDC ( Dyanmic Damper control ) DDC in the 2VM is tuned differently than the DDC in the 2VF. My understanding is DDC in the 2VM is tuned for comfort while 2VF is tuned for sports and firmness. I'll throw up the chart here again for reference.



From BMW: http://www.bmw.com/com/en/newvehicl...ynamics/adaptive_suspension_packages.html#t=l

Adaptive Suspension Packages.
The BMW X5 drives as majestically as it looks ***8211; particularly with the optional Adaptive Suspension Packages. Whether sporty or comfortable, these packages guarantee the best possible road-holding in all situations.
Maximum driving comfort while retaining hallmark BMW driving dynamics properties: the Adaptive Suspension Package Comfort allows you to individually adjust the suspension and damping response at any time. The rear axle air suspension included guarantees a consistently high level of driving comfort regardless of the car's load state.

If you want a more dynamic suspension set-up at times, Driving Experience Control offers you the additional options of Sport and Sport+ mode.

The Adaptive Suspension Package Dynamic lets you further optimise the dynamic potential of your car. Dynamic Performance Control, included in the feature, and Dynamic Drive guarantee very sporty driving dynamics in general, reflected mainly in a very neutral steering response and minimum side tilt of the body when taking bends ***8722; and all this while retaining a high level of drive comfort.

The best of both worlds is provided by the Active Suspension Package Professional, which combines the features of the Adaptive Suspension Package Comfort and the Adaptive Suspension Package Dynamic, for both maximum driving comfort and outstanding driving dynamics.

Increased driving dynamics: the Adaptive M Suspension gets maximum potential out of your car. Features include Dynamic Damper Control and air suspension at the rear axle, with a set-up designed for a particularly sporty driving response. The Adaptive M Suspension is only available as part of the M Sport package.
I hope this helps with the understanding the different suspension options.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I can't understand buying a car that you have not test driven at least twice with the loads you expect to carry. Driving sensations are extremely subjective. Reading about others' reactions is a pretty chancy way to make a buying decision.
We took a test drive, it was 30 minutes long and we did some highway and some local streets but could not put it to the test on some long curves or windy roads, there just aren't any near the dealer.

Asking those in this forum with thousands of miles seemed to be a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Like you my standard suspension works just fine for me. Agree on the 3rd row seats, just look at the rear door and try to imagine an adult trying to climb behind the 2nd row seat its not happening. Teenagers are not going to climb back there either. I also personally feel it wouldn't be that safe for anyone to sit back there in a rear end collision.
I go to college so our family of six goes down to five. My brother is in high school and doesn't go places with my parents much at all. So the rear seat will not be used muchmaybe 10 times a year. But my dad wants it because there will be a time when its needed and we would miss it. After reading this I did some research about 3rd rows in SUVs and there are some who feel like you do about safety but I read that only 6% of all road fatalities occur in a rear end collision and since the most happens in the front the rear seat is the safest place according to what I read.

I'm also not impressed with the dynamic adaptive puffed up language they use to describe the upgraded suspension. BMW seems pretty tight lipped about what you are actually getting. It looks like old style adjustable shocks plus adjustable sway bars. This is not a cutting edge magnetic ride suspension that adjusts 1,000 times a second it looks like you just get 3 settings, comfort, sport, sport +. Its better than nothing I guess but its hardly cutting edge.
But there are people who post like the DHP transforms the car? Are they wrong? I know first hand from my dads M428i with DHP that its awesome and you can really feel the difference in the ride.

Thanks again for the help!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The Adaptive M Suspension gives you dynamic damper control and rear axle air suspension. With third row seats you automatically get the rear axle air suspension, so if you order the third row seats and Adaptive M Suspension, you're adding the dynamic damper control. The rear axle air suspensions job is to keep the car level during heavy loads ( when 3rd row seats are occupied ). And that is all it does.

If you are looking for handling aspects of the suspension whether it is sporty or comfort settings, then you need DDC ( Dyanmic Damper control ) DDC in the 2VM is tuned differently than the DDC in the 2VF. My understanding is DDC in the 2VM is tuned for comfort while 2VF is tuned for sports and firmness. I'll throw up the chart here again for reference.

I hope this helps with the understanding the different suspension options.
Thank you for the information Kzang! I've read a lot of your posts and they are all very informative.

We can't get adaptive on ours because we are buying off the lot but is the Adaptive M suspension on the X35i different than the one on my father's M428i? He has the Gran Coupe M-Sport with DHP and its rear wheel drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Its not that bad of a combo. I drove one on the lot with the 3rd row seat and rear air suspension and it road nice and is comfortable but it has the body roll of the standard suspension. Since I didnt need the 3rd row seat I told my dealer after looking at the chart of the different suspension options and went with the DDC and rear air suspension without the 3rd row seat and the X5 feels more composed. My cousin has a X5 with standard suspension so I can tell a huge difference in the ride and handling between the standard suspension and the DDC with rear air suspension.

If I was to rank the
Ride from top down: DDC w/rear air > rear air only > standard suspension
Handling: DDC w/rear air >> rear air suspension only = standard
Thank you baloo really good information. I like your rankings because today I called 3 BMW "Geniuses" and they each told me something different. It seems no body knows what the standard suspension plus 3rd row seat 'air' suspension actually feels like.

The first said that because it is air it will be softer and more gentle. The second said that it makes no change at all when the 3rd row isn't in use but that when there is 100 pounds or so there the air will balance the car and make it more firm. The third genius said that he didn't know but would call me back. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I guess I'm one of the few who has a 35i xdrive with the 3rd row seating option and no other suspension upgrades. This is our first BMW and we bought it off the lot. We only test drove the car we ended up buying so I cannot say how different the other models felt. All I know is that about a month ago I drove it about 1600 miles to Niagara Falls and back and it was the smoothest ride i've ever been in, but then again I'm not one to go for a 'spirited drive' around corners in a SUV. I have my 350z for that.
Finally found the right "Genius" ha!

So since you are the only person on Earth who knows the truth can I ask have you had kids in the third row and did anyone in the car ever feel nauseous? That is my big worry because my little brother gets really car sick in the Odyssey and it is what I would warn my dad about if its true.

Also, have you pushed it hard in a corner ever? Did it feel like it was going to fall over or was it somewhat planted?
 
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