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In-depth reviews

BMW X5 SUV (2007-2013)

Don’t dismiss the X5 as a gas-guzzler. The engines are economical, and with up to seven seats, it’s an effective people carrier"

Carbuyer Rating

3.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Efficient and powerful diesel engines
  • Masses of space
  • Good fun to drive

Cons

  • Expensive list prices
  • Expensive options
  • Not as comfortable as other 4x4s

With seven seats, an upmarket interior and great build quality, BMW’s X5 is a formidable family car – but with the arrival of a new and updated verion, this model is looking a bit dated now. The pair of optional seats in the boot are useful, and when they’re not in place the car has lots of luggage space. The X5 has some off-road ability, but BMW focused on performance on tarmac, so it’s a better road car than rivals, with light, accurate steering and a range of powerful, economical engines. The xDrive30d and xDrive40d diesels offer strong performance and low fuel bills. All models come well equipped.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Petrol engines drain fuel as fast as a Ferrari

Buy the xDrive50i or X5M petrol models, and you’ll constantly be at the fuel station, with the latter capable of draining fuel as fast as a Ferrari. In contrast, the xDrive30d and xDrive40d diesels use fuel at the same rate as a family hatchback. The former, which is the biggest seller of the X5 range, has emissions of just 195g/km, so it stays well clear of the top ‘gas guzzler’ Road Tax bracket.

Engines, drive & performance

Spacious and stable

It’s tall, boxy and spacious, but on the motorway the X5 feels stable, unaffected by crosswinds and is as quiet as any executive saloon. The steering is direct, and the body doesn’t roll or lurch during cornering or hard braking. The high driving position offers good all-round visibility and reinforces a feeling of safety. Of the four engines, the two 3.0-litre turbodiesels – the xDrive30d and more powerful twin-turbo xDrive40d – impress most. They’re powerful but both capable of nearly 40mpg on the official combined cycle. The V8-powered xDrive50i and supercar-quick X5M are only worth considering if fuel costs are of no concern.

Interior & comfort

A good long distance cruiser

Driver and passengers will find that there’s loads of head, leg and shoulder room for five occupants, but with two optional chairs in the boot a maximum of seven will fit – assuming passengers in the rearmost seats are quite small. Sadly the X5 doesn’t handle bumpy roads as well as some other 4x4s, and can sometimes ‘shudder’ over potholes and cracks in the tarmac. Even so, noise from the wind and tyres is well isolated from the cabin, so it’s a relaxing car to drive over long distances.

Practicality & boot space

There’s plenty of cabin space

The BMW X5 is ultimately more of a big hatchback with a large boot than a fully-fledged off-roader, so yes it’s practical. Like an estate car, the boot is a nice square shape, so bulky objects are easily loaded in and out – and the lack of load lip helps. The rear seats split and fold flat easily and quickly, too. Overall luggage capacity is a massive 1,750 litres, which is easily on a par with big estate cars - but the new model is much better.

Reliability & safety

Well constructed, and safe, too

The iDrive dial on the centre console that controls the satellite navigation, telephone, stereo and other media is complicated, but even that has proven reliable, having been refined and updated in different BMW models. A very small number of cars were recalled with possible brake problems in 2009, but generally the X5 has been solid. A full five-star Euro NCAP crash test result is also reassuring.

Price, value for money & options

Leasing rates are reasonable

BMW’s family 4x4 certainly isn’t cheap - but it’s a true prestige model, and you do get what you pay for. The car holds its value better than rivals, which means leasing rates in particular are reasonable. As ever, diesel models hold their values best. The X5 also features a high level of standard equipment. Leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and an eight-speed automatic gearbox are all standard equipment. However, the newer model offers a cheaper entry-level model that makes this old version look really expensive.

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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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