BMW X5 SUV
Price £44,575 - £90,200
- Very spacious
- Well equipped
- Reasonable running costs
- Could be more refined
- Expensive options
- Bland styling
At a glance
“If you’re after a large, comfortable, luxurious SUV that’s also pretty good to drive, then the BMW X5 could well be for you.”
Renowned as the car that put the ‘sport’ into Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), the BMW X5 is a luxurious and comfortable 4x4 that also happens to be pretty good fun to drive. It's larger than it's ever been and now comes with the option of seven seats.
It's up against rivals like the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and Range Rover Sport – of which neither the Porsche nor the Mercedes are available with seven seats. While the addition of a third row of seats to the X5 has had an impact on the amount of space available back there, it's still pretty generous. Most versions offer 650 litres behind the five seats, which extends to 1,870 if you fold the second row down. Go for the hybrid model, however, and this drops to 500 and 1,720 litres respectively, due to space taken up by the battery and electric motor.
Along with the hybrid version – which combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor – there are also a number of traditional petrol and diesel options available. At the entry point to the range, there's a 2.0-litre diesel engine that's only available with rear-wheel drive (the only two-wheel-drive X5 in the line-up) while there are three super-smooth and powerful 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engines on offer, too. If you’d prefer petrol power, then there's a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 in the X5 xDrive50i, while a more powerful version of this engine is also available in the high-performance X5M model, which we’ve reviewed separately.
The diesels are likely to be the biggest sellers, however, with the entry-level two-wheel-drive 2.0-litre managing 228bhp returning 53.3mpg according to official figures. This equates to a £130-a-year tax bill, due to CO2 emissions of 139g/km. This means business users will be liable for 25% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax contributions. The three six-cylinder diesels all displace 3.0 litres and produce 254, 308 and 376bhp respectively, resulting in impressive 0-62mph times of 6.8, 5.9 and 5.3 seconds. According to official figures, these models will also return more than 40mpg. While the two less powerful diesels both have road-tax bills of £180, the more powerful model demands £205 a year. If you’re a business user, your BiK contributions for these models will range between 31 and 32%.
If you’re after the cheapest X5 to run, you’ll want the aforementioned hybrid model. Thanks to CO2 emissions of 77g/km, it won’t cost you anything to tax, while it sits in the 14% BiK company-car tax bracket. At the other end of the efficiency scale, however, is the petrol V8. It's the fastest model in the range (except for the X5M) thanks to its 444bhp: it’ll do 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds, but this performance comes at the detriment of running costs. It’ll return around 29mpg, while CO2 emissions of 224g/km mean a hefty £295 annual tax bill. If you’re a business user, we can’t recommend it, as it sits in the top 37% BiK tax bracket.
There are just the two trim levels available – SE and M Sport – both of which come pretty generously equipped. All models get alloy wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, sat nav and heated front seats, as well as parking sensors at the front and back. You also get automatic headlights, automatic wipers, metallic paint and, of course, BMW's iDrive infotainment system that comes with internet access as standard.
Our top recommendation is the mid-range xDrive30d in SE trim. We think it offers the best balance between purchase price, equipment, performance and running costs, while it also drives nicely. If you go for the M Sport version, you get slightly firmer suspension, as well as larger wheels, both of which can have a deleterious effect on the ride quality.
Even though Euro NCAP hasn’t crash-tested the X5, we’re not concerned as it has loads of standard safety kit. As well as the obligatory airbags dotted around the interior, there's electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and a tyre-pressure monitoring system. There's also hill-descent control – which is useful for negotiating steep, slippery slopes – as well as cruise control with an automatic braking function.
Reliability, however, is more of a concern. The X5 didn’t make it into the top 150 cars to own in our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, nor the top 200 in the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, BMW itself managed a respectable 15th-place finish (out of 32) in the 2016 survey, but this is marred by a 21st-place finish for reliability.
The BMW X5 xDrive30d offers the best balance of economy, price and likely resale value
The BMW X5 has diesel engines in two sizes and four power outputs, plus a very smooth automatic gearbox
Compared to the sensible and well equipped SE, the BMW X5 M Sport looks unnecessary
If carrying extra passengers is more important to you than boot space, an optional third row of seats can be specified on the BMW X5
It’s a pity that the BMW X5’s strong case appears to be undermined by average-at-best reliability