BMW X5 SUV
"The BMW X5 has had a growth spurt that makes it a better all-rounder, but it still offers a satisfying drive"
- More luxurious than ever
- Impressive performance
- Spacious interior
- Fairly high CO2 emissions
- Limited choice of engines
- Not the biggest boot
The fourth generation BMW X5 continues to be an SUV that's not only practical, but manages to fulfill that BMW quality of being a driver’s car too. The latest model has more of an emphasis on luxury and comfort, and for those who want a slightly more rugged X5, there’s an optional off-road pack. At the other end of the spectrum, performance drivers are well catered for by the 617bhp BMW X5 M Competition.
Every exterior detail has been changed, yet the X5 is still instantly recognisable as just that, albeit with taller kidney grilles, sharper creases and new LED lights. It's longer, taller and wider than before too, helping to disguise the fact that in M Performance guise it can be fitted with gargantuan 22-inch alloy wheels.
The interior represents a step-up in quality and technology, with clever digital instruments replacing traditional gauges. The latest version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system is as good to use as ever, and the central screen is exceptionally crisp. Meanwhile, leather upholstery comes as standard and there are novel features like a glass roof that can illuminate at night to shine like starlight.
Like the Mercedes GLE, the X5 gets the option of a third row of seats for a 7-seat capacity, and the split-tailgate also makes it easy to load heavy luggage - or sit and admire the view at beauty spots. In the standard X5 you'll be able to take four adults with you, with plentiful headroom and lots of space in the back. For drivers who don't want a third row of seats, the BMW X5's sibling model, the BMW X6, features a more swooping coupe SUV style design with a similar range of engine and trim level options.
For 2020, BMW has introduced mild-hybrid assistance for the 30d and 40d diesel engines. This system uses a 48-volt starter-generator and a battery pack that stores energy recovered from braking, which is then used to assist the engine as you accelerate. The starter-generator also provides a brief 11bhp power boost, helping acceleration and overtaking.
Our pick of the engine range is the entry-level xDrive 30d. With 282bhp it's hardly sluggish, and is capable of returning relatively decent fuel economy of up to 37.2-42.2mpg. Despite the addition of the mild-hybrid assistance, its emissions under the WLTP emissions test are relatively high at 177-198g/km, which places it in the top Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) bracket for company car drivers.
Costing around £1,400 more, the xDrive40i is also a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine.With 335bhp it can hit 62mph from rest in 5.5 seconds, but it has high emissions of 249-231g/km of CO2 and will officially hit 25.9-28.2mpg depending on specification.
Spending around £2,000 more gets you the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid model, which we’ve reviewed separately. It uses the same straight-six engine as the outgoing xDrive40i coupled to an electric motor to produce 389bhp, hitting 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. BMW claims the car can cover 54 miles using electric power only and, with an official CO2 emissions figure of 27-32g/km, it’s the cleanest X5 model, sitting in the lowest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) banding.
You'll need to spend another £10,000 or so to get behind the wheel of the X5 M50d, that has no less than four turbos to achieve its 395bhp power figure and 5.2-second dash to 62mph. The BMW X5 M Competition is even more expensive, costing around £110,000. It's also much faster, with a 617bhp 4.4-litre V8 getting it from 0-62mph in a faintly ridiculous 3.8 seconds.
Four-wheel drive and BMW's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox are fitted as standard, with the former carefully calibrated to make the big X5 handle like a much lighter car. It's certainly precise, and when fitted with air suspension the ride is pleasant too. Adaptive M Suspension is noticeably less settled.
Just three trims are offered, with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED lights, heated seats, air suspension and wireless phone charging fitted to the xLine version. M Sport costs around £3,500 more and gives the X5 a makeover inside and out for a racier feel, including fitting 20-inch alloy wheels. Meanwhile, the X5 M features so many changes it can almost be considered a separate model.
Prospective customers may be concerned about the brand's 27th-place finish out of 30 in our 2020 Driver Power owner survey, but safety is less likely to cause trepidation as the X5 is loaded with kit to protect occupants and pedestrians. This practical SUV scored highly in the Euro NCAP testing, receiving five stars. Not only is the X5 safe, but by including features such as autonomous emergency braking, evasion aid and the Driving Assistant Professional pack, BMW makes the chance of an accident less likely in the first place.