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Towing: x5 vs CD -- personal observations

 
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Old 09-28-2015, 03:28 PM
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Towing: x5 vs CD -- personal observations

2016 CD vs. 2014 BMW X5

In summer 2014 I ordered a diesel x5. It ended up being in the shop a lot (terrible dealer service) and I got rid of it with just about 16,000 miles on it. I now have a 2016 CD. Behind both vehicles, I’ve pulled a 2009 23’ Yamaha Bowrider. All told, the boat, trailer, precious treasures inside and fuel comes out to about 5,300 pounds rolling down the street. I also live in the Bay Area and take the boat up to Lake Tahoe annually. As a general rule I tow the boat about 2,000 miles per year. My previous vehicle before these was a 2009 Cayenne Base manual transmission.

Since the question “how these two tow?” comes up from time-to-time, I thought I’d offer my observations. These aren’t scientific, but these are what I’ve seen.

2014 BMW x5 xDrive 35d
I had read air suspension (no driver adjustment possible) with 19” wheels and all season tires. I prefer all-season tires on the towing vehicle as in many instances I’m down on either slick boat ramps or dry lake beds launching.

First off was the need for a trailer hitch to tow the boat. After looking at several options, I settled on the Invisihitch because the OEM BMW part would ONLY allow a 2” ball. The Invisihitch required about three hours of labor to install. Since this also required coding of the onboard computers, I chose to have it installed at a local independent shop. Note that the cost of this option is about $1,500 installed, whereas the BMW option is closer to $2,000.

When towing, the diesel did fine – as most diesels will. The x5 is rated at 6,000lbs and I could tell I was pushing 90% of the limit on the chassis. Overall mileage was in the upper-teens. The current version of the x5 only has an oil temp gauge on the dash and doesn’t relate much more info than cold—normal—hot. Pulling the boat up any type of grade would pretty much guarantee the gauge would crawl up to about ¾ up the gauge (whatever that is). I couple of times I was nervous enough to turn off the ac & roll down the windows. Manually downshifting the transmission and holding a lower gear didn’t seem to help matters in this area. Haul it up Hwy 50 at 10pm with the ambient temp is in the 50s and it’s about guaranteed to get the temp gauge up to ¾. The x5 also seemed to get pushed around a bit by a cross wind. I had to set the suspension to “sport” and the engine configured to “normal” when towing or else it felt like an old 80s town car floating down the freeway.

2016 Cayenne Diesel
I have Air suspension/PASM and 20” Sypder wheels with all-season tires on this car. I have the factory hitch receiver. The only preparation was to install the 7-pin adaptor into the car.

Although the two cars are very close when it comes to wheel base, the CD doesn’t seem to get pushed around as much as the x5, and it thus seems more sure on the highway – this might be due to the fact that I’m only at about 70% of towing capacity. While towing about 60mph, the CD will turn just about 1500rpm. Having a digital readout of the transmission gears all the time is nice…as there’s never a question as to what gear the CD is running in.

I recently completed a 600 mile trip up to Lake Shasta where the CD returned 19mpg according to the computer. Having the ability to set the CD into “off-road” mode definitely makes a difference on a steep boat ramp…it holds gears longer and takes off smoother. Pulling up hills will warm up the oil temp, but it is nice to be able to watch it either via the two gauges or multifunction display.

I haven’t had the opportunity to take the CD up to Tahoe with the boat (that will be next spring) however, it will likely pull better than the x5. I have pulled over three 1,500 foot passes on 100 degree days and I the CD will pull the boat up the hill at the speed limit in either fully automatic or even manually downshifting. Manually downshifting and holding the rpm just under 3,000 and the CD seems to almost hunker-down for the long pull.

Being able to adjust air suspension and shock settings independently is nice. Most of the time I leave it in “normal” air, and then either “comfort” or “sport” PASM.

In comparison, I feel more confident towing the boat with the Cayenne than the x5. In comparison to the base, the diesel definitely isn’t working as hard as the ’09, and I have no worries about

Anyway, those are some observations I’ve had pulling the boat. I hope this helps those out there who may be deciding between these two vehicles.
 
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the write up!
 
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:07 PM
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There are so many nice SUV's available - would love to hear opinions about others, also.
 
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Old 03-22-2016, 03:29 PM
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Was sad to see that this post did not have any replies... so i decided to reply and rep. Maybe someone can do one for a Range Rover Sport vs Cayenne, it that isn't already done.
 
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Old 03-23-2016, 11:47 AM
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Yes, I am sure there are lots of folks who have driven other SUV's than the Cayenne.

Don't know if the topic needs its' own thread...........
 
 
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