The X5 has clearly been touched by an angel. There's no earthly explanation for a vehicle making such an immense improvement from one generation to the next.

The first X5, which went on sale seven years ago, was a truck. It bore a BMW badge but offered little of the nimble handling and eager response that marks the Bavarian brand's cars.

The new X5, despite growing significantly larger and heavier, has a light-footed feel and curve-carving handling that belie its size.

Prices for the 2007 X5 start at $45,900 for a 265-horsepower 3.0si model powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six engine. The 4.8-liter V8 350-horsepower 4.8i has a $54,500 base price. All-wheel-drive is standard.

I tested a well-equipped X5 4.8i with a $71,245 sticker price. All prices exclude destination charges.

The X5 4.8i competes with luxury SUVs like the Audi Q7, Cadillac SRX, Lexus GX 470 and Mercedes-Benz M-class.

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