Review

BMW X5 SUV

Price  £42,945 - £90,170

BMW X5 SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Comfortable ride
  • Plenty of interior space
  • Economical sDrive model
Cons
  • Dull looks
  • Expensive to buy
  • Uncomfortable Sport mode

At a glance

The greenest
sDrive25d SE 5dr £42,945
The cheapest
sDrive25d SE 5dr £42,945
The fastest
M 5dr £90,170
Top of the range
M 5dr £90,170

"The BMW X5 isn't the best-looking 4x4, but it's still an excellent seven-seat SUV."

The BMW X5 was one of the first SUVs to offer excellent on-road performance at the expense of decent off-road ability. That means the current X5 is second only to the Porsche Cayenne when it comes to driving fun. The X5 is also a refined motorway cruiser and even offers the option of seven seats.

One of the BMW X5's strongest attributes is its engine line-up, which offers four diesel engines and one petrol. All the diesels offer decent fuel economy and an economical two-wheel-drive version has recently joined the range. The petrol version doesn't make much sense, because it's barely quicker than the fastest diesel and returns poor fuel economy.

BMW offers SE, M Sport and M50d trim levels. Standard equipment is generous, with even the basic model coming with sat nav, a leather interior, climate control and a Bluetooth phone connection.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.9 / 5

Not the cheapest car to run, but not bad for an SUV

The most economical BMW X5 is the two-wheel-drive 25d sDrive model, which can return 50.4mpg and has CO2 emissions of 149g/km, so road tax is just £145 per year. All other models have grippy four-wheel drive, and the 25d xDrive returns 48.7mpg and will cost £180 a year to tax.

The quicker 30d and 40d models should both see 45.6mpg and also cost £180 a year to tax. Given the performance on offer, the flagship M50d model's fuel economy of 42.2mpg is impressive, while its road tax bill will be £225 a year. The only petrol model is the xDrive 50i, but its 27.2mpg fuel economy and £485-a-year road tax, make it very hard to recommend – even if it is the quickest model in the range.

Maintenance for the X5 will be cheaper than for a Porsche Cayenne, and BMW also offers fixed-price servicing that makes it easier to keep on top of costs.

Engines, drive & performance

3.9 / 5

Not as good to drive as other BMWs, but still a good motorway cruiser

You wouldn't expect the basic X5 to be particularly quick, but the sDrive 25d can actually cover 0-62mph in just 8.2 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 137mph. Interior noise is kept to a minimum, but the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox means the car never feels as quick as it is.

Fitting the basic model with xDrive four-wheel drive doesn't hurt the 0-62mph time, while the four-wheel-drive 30d and 40d models do the same sprint in 6.9 and 5.9 seconds respectively. The flagship M50d model drops that to just 5.3 seconds, but the quickest model of all is the expensive-to-run petrol xDrive 50i, which does 0-62mph in five seconds flat.

BMW fits every X5 with Driver Performance Control, which lets the driver set the car up for comfort or sporty driving. On M Sport models, it also stiffens the suspension and adds weight to the steering. Keeping it in comfort mode means less bumps are felt inside, but the steering can feel disconcertingly light.

Interior & comfort

4.3 / 5

The default Comfort setting will keep passengers happy

The BMW X5 has a stylish interior that's well built and easy to use. The raised driving position also gives the driver a good view of the road ahead, and the driver's seat and steering wheel offer plenty of adjustment to make it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

The interior is well insulated from road, wind and tyre noise, making the BMW a quiet motorway cruiser, although bigger-wheeled models suffer from more road noise. M Sport models come with adjustable suspension that allows the driver to choose between sporty handling and a comfortable ride.

Practicality & boot space

4 / 5

A big car with lots of boot space and seven seats

With huge exterior dimensions, it's no surprise that the BMW X5 has plenty of space inside, too. Buyers can spec their X5 with seven seats, but leave that box blank and the BMW gets a 650-litre boot, which expands to 1,870 litres with the back seats folded down. Space for passengers in the rear is good and there are plenty of cubbyholes inside, including a large lidded space between the two front seats.

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

Lots of active safety equipment as standard on all models

The X5 was one of the poorer-performing BMWs in our Driver Power 2014 owner satisfaction survey. It came 97th out of 150 cars – a six-place drop on its 2013 ranking. It ranked particularly badly for reliability – 141st out of 150 cars. However, as with any BMW, the X5 comes with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty.

With a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP, the BMW X5 should be safe and it gets plenty of airbags, as well as a seatbelt reminder buzzer. Active cruise control, which maintains a safe distance from the car in front, is also standard.

Price, value for money & options

3.7 / 5

New two-wheel-drive entry-level model is cheaper than before

As a premium SUV, the BMW X5 isn't cheap to buy, but it's less expensive than rivals such as the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. All models get active cruise control, sat nav, climate control and BMW's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox.

M Sport models add a subtle body kit, huge 19-inch alloy wheels and adjustable suspension, while the interior also gets unique trim and a sports steering wheel.

The options list includes colour screens for the rear-seat passengers and BMW's Driving Assistance Plus system, which can move and steer the BMW in slow-moving traffic.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 1 review
4 / 5
"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."
Last updated 
18 Jul 2014

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