BMW X5 SUV
Price £42,945 - £64,290
- Comfortable ride
- Good range of diesel engines
- Plenty of interior space
- Expensive to buy
- Dull looks
- Uncomfortable Sport mode
At a glance
“The BMW X5 might not be the best looking 4x4, but it's still an excellent seven-seat SUV.”
The BMW X5 4x4 has been a popular up-market family car for many years, and this latest version is as practical and comfortable as ever. It features the option for seven seats, as well as a huge boot and a high-quality interior. It rivals the sporty Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport, but unfortunately the latest version isn’t the best looking SUV out there, and it's not as fun to drive as previous models. However, the X5 is an excellent motorway cruiser with a range of strong and relatively economical diesel engines, which will likely make it a popular choice for the school run – just like it has been for years. It's not the most competent car off-road, but the larger-engined models come with four-wheel drive for improved grip in wet and icy conditions.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Not the cheapest car to run, but not bad for an SUV
The BMW X5 is initially only available with the larger capacity engines in the range – the xDrive 30d and xDrive M50d, powered by a 3.0-litre diesel engine, and the xDrive50i, which uses a 4.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. We recommend the basic 30d, as it offers plenty of performance while returning 45.6mpg and emitting 162g/km of CO2. The big petrol engine makes a great noise and has lots of power but will cost a fortune to run, so if speed is what you’re after, we’d recommend the M50d. It costs the same as the petrol, but returns a claimed 42.2mpg instead of 27.7mpg and emits 177g/km as opposed to 242g/km of CO2. If you really want to cut costs, the best engine to go for is the entry-level sDrive 25d, which gets 48mpg and emissions of 149g/km – but this version isn’t available until early 2014.
Interior & comfort
The default Comfort setting will keep passengers happy
The new suspension set-up in the BMW X5 offers much better long-distance comfort than before. The car is actually at its best with its Drive Experience Control system set to its default Comfort mode, giving a ride that's comfortable, but still retaining a keen response from the steering wheel. Switch to Sport or Sport+ modes on the M-Sport models, and the steering becomes much heavier. While the driver might appreciate the better steering, passengers get thrown around much more, and the firmer suspension also transmits bumps and ruts in the road through the car more noticeably. The new seats are very comfortable, though, and the combination of relatively low dashboard and large windows lets in lots of light and gives the interior an airy feel.
Practicality & boot space
A big car with lots of boot space and seven seats
Thanks to its larger dimensions, the new BMW X5 is more practical than before, with loads of space inside and a large boot. Buyers can choose an extra two rear seats, making the X5 a seven-seater, but without that option (or with them folded flat) the boot has 650 litres of space. There is plenty of leg and headroom for rear-seat passengers, and there are loads of cubbies around the interior for in-car storage. The rear seats split 40:20:40, which gives a good amount of versatility to the boot space and a total of 1,870 litres of space. The interior is generally excellent and well made, but there are some light-coloured interior options that could easily get dirty if you intend to subject the X5 to pets and messy children.
Reliability & safety
Lots of active safety equipment as standard on all models
Although Euro NCAP has not tested this new version of the BMW X5 yet, the previous version got the full five stars and we expect this one will too. It features more safety equipment than before, including lane departure warning, rear collision alerts, a blind spot monitor and a system called BMW Emergency Call that automatically rings the emergency services in the event of a serious accident. There's even an optional night vision function for safer night driving, as well as LED headlights. Consumable parts like tyres will have to be replaced more often than in a smaller car because of the size and weight of the X5, but engines and other mechanicals should prove to be reliable as they are used in many other models.
Engines, drive & performance
Not as good to drive as other BMWs, but still a good motorway cruiser
Unlike many BMWs, the new X5 is not as focused on driver enjoyment but rather on comfort and cruising ability. The Porsche Cayenne is better to drive than this new X5, but for customers who cruise along the motorway for most of their time, the BMW has the edge – it's very comfortable and the engines are powerful and responsive. It's still good to drive compared to many of its rivals, and keen drivers will still prefer the BMW to the Audi Q7 or Mercedes M-Class. The petrol engine is very thirsty but it offers the best performance, so we recommend the xDrive 30d diesel for the best combination of performance and economy.
Price, value for money & options
New two-wheel drive entry-level model is cheaper than before
The BMW X5 is a large and expensive SUV, and thanks to the BMW badge it does command a premium price point. It feels like a quality product however, and the X5 gets a 10-inch display screen, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control all as standard. As with all BMWs, choosing lots of options from the extras list can cause the price to spiral – but this is also the case with rivals like the Audi Q7. However, this new BMW X5 is better value than the old model, and offers a new entry point to X5 ownership with the basic sDrive 25d SE model, which launches next year and costs £3,000 less than the old entry-level model.
What the others say
"The new look is a blander evolution of the previous car on the outside, while the interior is a real mash-up of layer after layer of different materials. That said, interior quality has improved considerably, and space for passengers, particularly around the shoulders, has gone up."