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In-depth reviews

BMW X5 review – an upmarket driver’s SUV

"The BMW X5 has had a growth spurt that makes it a better all-rounder, but it still offers a satisfying drive"

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • More luxurious than ever
  • Impressive performance
  • Spacious interior

Cons

  • High CO2 emissions
  • Limited choice of engines
  • Expensive

Verdict – Is the BMW X5 a good car?

The BMW X5 offers a brilliant mix of luxury, performance and space. A welcome wave of updates to the range means it offers an even more advanced infotainment system than before, not to mention much-improved engines compared to the pre-facelift cars. If you’re looking for a great all-rounder that feels more like a luxury saloon than an SUV to drive, the BMW X5 is one of the best.

BMW X5 models, specs and alternatives

The fourth-generation BMW X5 continues to be an SUV that's not only practical but manages to fulfil that BMW promise of being a driver’s car too. The luxurious 4x4 is a great all-rounder, which it needs to be because the luxury SUV market is bursting with talented rivals like the Mercedes GLE, Volvo XC90, Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne.

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It’s undoubtedly expensive, though. Entry-level XLine models start from just shy of £70,000 and look rather pedestrian – opt for the M Sport for added road presence and that’s an extra £4,000, and don’t get carried away with the optional packs because this will balloon the price even further.

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For the latest model, every exterior design detail has been updated, 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.

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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. 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.

A 2020 update gave all non-M petrol and diesel engines extra assistance in the form of 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, and in 2023 BMW updated the X5 range again, with improvements to several engines and replacement of the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid with a new xDrive50e plug-in hybrid model. It once again uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine but in combination with an electric motor, it develops 95bhp more than before, at 483bhp, while a larger 25.7kWh battery extends the official EV range to more than 60 miles, in contrast to the 54 of the old car.

BMW has updated our former pick of the range too, the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel. Power jumps from 282bhp to 294bhp in xDrive 30d form (with economy of nearly 40mpg), while there’s an xDrive40d too, though BMW is yet to confirm figures. Above the regular X5 range, BMW has slimmed down the options to a single X5 M60i xDrive, with a 523bhp turbocharged V8 – while the BMW X5 M Competition remains the flagship of the lineup, with a 616bhp 4.4-litre V8.

No matter which engine you choose, 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 entry-level xLine version. M Sport costs around £4,000 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 poor 21st-place finish out of 32 in our 2023 Driver Power owner survey (down from 16th out of 29 brands in 2022), 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 the full five star rating.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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