More sport than utility, BMW's 'big' SUV started out with a stiff ride but comfortable seats and a plush interior. With the 4.4-liter V8, it accelerates like a sports car, with outstanding handling and braking to boot. While the 3.0-liter inline six is plenty powerful, our X5 tester equipped with this engine lifted two wheels in our avoidance maneuver testing -- despite the presence of stability control as standard equipment. For that reason, we rate its emergency handling as poor. While improvements to the platform for 2005 models cure that problem, handling is still unsettled at the limit. Cargo capacity and rear-seat room are modest. The X5 holds 35.5 cubic feet of cargo. Payload is 1,290 pounds, 220 of which can be loaded on the roof. Properly equipped, the X5 will tow 5,000 pounds.