The X5 continues the legacy of the Bavarian brand’s automotive excellence. While it is a little less performance oriented than previous generations, it makes up for it in refinement. The latest propagation provides an excellent balance between “Ultimate Driving Machine” and everyday practicality.
It’s not the cheapest nor the most expensive midsize luxury SUV, as a result, it isn’t the best nor the worst in the segment. The latest X5 appeals to a broader audience than earlier versions, which seemed to be targeted toward the enthusiast. We think the diesel model provides excellent value. You can get excellent real world performance with hybrid-like fuel consumption, all with the practicality of an SUV. What’s not to love? If you really care about your value per dollar, in which case you have no business considering a BMW, consider the Acura MDX and Audi Q7. That said, you can’t really put a price on the BMW experience and the X5 caters a healthy ration.
The X5 has 5 available trim levels, including a hybrid and diesel model. The base sDrive35i has a MSRP of $56,600. The all wheel drive xDrive35i costs an additional $2,300 at $58,900. The xDrive35d diesel model begins at $60,400. The xDrive40e plug in hybrid has a base MSRP of $63,200. Finally, the 4.4L V8 equipped xDrive50i begins at a staggering $73,650. All models are available with a third row for $1,700 extra except the hybrid model. Expect to pay a minimum of $1,450 to upgrade the standard leatherette to real leather, unless you’re shelling out 70k for the xDrive50i, in which BMW graciously provides leather at no additional charge. This top of line model arrives equipped with the basic driver assistance package, a $1,400 dollar option in the other trims. This package includes a rearview camera and heads-up display. The $1,700 driver assistance plus package adds active blind spot detection, surround view, and speed limit info. A fuel saving stop/start function is an available option for $1,200 more. The $550 dollar cold weather package heats the steering wheel and rear rows and gives the headlights retractable washers. The $4,500 dynamic handling package boosts vehicle performance with dynamic performance control and dynamic drive with active roll stabilization that reduces body lean when cornering. The $3,250 executive package allows wireless charging, wifi hotspot connectivity, manual rear window shades, soft closing automatic doors, and replaces standard controls with deep, gloss black ceramic controls. The $1,900 lighting package furnishes all LED headlights that turn with your vehicle for better visibility on curves. The automatic high beams sense the presence of oncoming vehicles and switch on and off automatically, reducing the need to manually adjust high beams and allowing you to focus on driving at night. The $3,000 M sport package replaces the stock seats with 10-way adjustable sport seats with thigh support, adjustable side bolsters, and memory function. An aerodynamic bodykit with shadowline trim gives the X5 an appearance to match its sporty capabilities. This package also adds a sport transmission with manual mode, launch control, and affixes paddle shifters to the thicker M sport steering wheel, also included. The M sport package includes a greater variety of wheels, colors, and interior trim options. Finally, the Ivory or Mocha interior design package costs $1,950 and augments the interior with rich white or brown Nappa leather with exclusive contrast stitching and a black Nappa leather dash.
Depending on which of the 5 available trims you select, vehicle performance will vary accordingly. Starting with sDrive35i and xDrive35i, the only difference being RWD vs AWD, a twin scroll turbocharged 3 liter inline 6 cylinder engine with valvetronic variable intake technology produces 300 hp @ 5800rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque @ 1200rpm. That’s enough power to motivate the two and a half ton beast from naught to 60mph in 5.9 seconds, no small feat. Fuel economy is not bad for a vehicle of this size at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, similar to the lighter and less inspiring Lexus RX350. The xDrive40e hybrid is powered by a 2.0 liter twin scroll turbocharged inline 4 cylinder coupled with a lithium ion eDrive electric motor. This coupling produces 308 hp and 332 lb-ft of instant torque, no need for revs. The merger motivates the big Bimmer to 60mp in 6.5 seconds. The xDrive35d features a 3.0 liter twin scroll turbocharged inline 6 that generates 255 horsepower and an astounding 413 lb-ft of torque. BMW doesn’t offer a time to 60. Car and Driver claims a 7.3 second time but we were skeptical. Like everyone else who performs quality research for a living, we took to youtube. One driver put up numbers more inline with our math. The video speaks for itself! For the concerned, the diesel variant is no slouch. The fuel economy is great on the diesel at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Lastly, the xDrive50i model packs a twin scroll turbocharged 4.4 liter V8 with a jaw-dropping 445 hp and 480 ft-lb of torque. With ample power throughout the powerband, who really cares about revs? This leviathan will slam you into your seat on a 0-60 mph run at 4.3 seconds. That’s fast enough to make Mustang hot hatch owners everywhere jealous. If you’re driving a big V8, efficiency is probably not a priority. The 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway make it the least efficient in the lineup. All models are equipped with the same eight speed automatic that shifts intelligently and smoothly. We prefer to use the paddle shifters in the M sport equipped models for extra control. Those who loved the last generation’s sedan like handling may be disappointed by this update. However, it is by no means less capable and will perform when pushed, just with a little more lean and without the stellar steering feedback found in the previous model. On the whole, the ride quality is vastly improved over the previous generation. It is more comfortable on bumpy roads and at highway speeds, which we’re sure was a calculated decision BMW. After all, it’s a Sport Utility Vehicle, not a sports car. Sacrificing a few enthusiasts’ feelings for the sake of mass appeal seems an appropriate decision.
Besides the lackluster standard leatherette, the BMW interior beautifully appointed with big, supportive seats and soft carpet. The standard seats lack side support, easily remedied by ticking the sport seat box. Second-row space is ample. Since there is no transmission lump present, the second row will comfortably accommodate three adults. The optional third row, not so much, it’s best left to the little ones. The iDrive infotainment system is simple and features well finished, intuitive controls like the touchpad sensor, which allows you to scribble letters and numbers with your fingertips. A hard drive for music and app storage is also standard. The 10.2in display is bright and features sharp graphics and user-friendly interface. Navigation is included standard, unlike the smaller X3. The cabin isn’t nearly as quiet as some of the competitors, but the optional 1200 watt Bang and Olufsen 16 speaker sound system will drown out wind noise in a hurricane. Cargo capacity is excellent at 35.8 cubic feet behind the second row, enough for several suitcases. With the seats down, capacity is increased to 76.7 cubic feet. That’s enough to fit an average washer/dryer combo. The two section liftgate can provide additional utility for carrying longer items like surfboards and kayaks.
The new X5 is less angular than the previous generation, adapting to the softer lines that now characterize other BMW models. The face wears the dual kidney grilles, flanked by bi xenon headlights or optional all LED variants. The xLine models have a front bumper design that emphasizes utility, while M sport models wear an aerodynamically enhanced version that would look more at home on a sports sedan. Though we must admit, it looks pretty badass! An image notably enhanced by the shadowline trim. Dual exhaust ports are standard across the board and provide symmetry to the rear. The redundant red reflectors that we found to be disruptive of the design on the X3 are found in the X5 as well. The side profile is simple, clean, and one of the more appealing angles. The roof racks are well designed and contour to the body, making them nearly imperceptible. In conclusion, expect an interior that is well designed, comfortable, and distinctly BMW.
JD power bestows the X5 with a 4 out of 5 rating, denoting a “better than most” valuation. Consumer Reports is less enthusiastic, giving the X5 a 3 out of 5 predicted reliability rating. The X5 has suffered two recalls at the hands of the NHTSA. 24 units had 21in tires that said 20in rather than 21in, failing to conform to the tire selection federal safety standard. 36 units were affected with faulty airbag ignitors, which will be replaced by the dealership free of charge.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not finished testing the X5, yet offers a “GOOD” result side and front impact testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards an overall five-star rating, the highest available. Front and side curtain airbags are standard, along with driver and front passenger knee airbags. If the SUV detects the presence of a child or child safety restraint, it will disable the front airbag in that seat. One safety issue we are aware of is the confusing shifter. If the park button is not pressed properly, the X5 will remain in neutral, even with the door open and engine off. This creates the risk of the X5 rolling unintentionally. A variety of safety technology is available with the purchase of the driver assistance plus package, including blind spot surveillance, lane departure warning, and front collision mitigation with pedestrian detection. These features perform well, but we believe they should be standard, as they are in some of the competition.
With higher than average MSRPs, the X5 attracts many worthy competitors for each of its five trim levels. We’ve picked three of the best to compare with the various X5 trims. The s and xDrive35i models face ferocious contention from the 3.0T model Audi Q5. At a $55,500 for the Premium Plus 3.0T Q7, the Audi is less expensive than the X5 and surpasses its performance in nearly every category, except cargo capacity. The supercharged 3 liter V6 propels the Q5 to 60mph two-tenths of a second quicker than the X5. Additionally, the Q5 provides the sedan-like handling the X5 now lacks. Sure the ride is a little less cushy, but we’ll gladly take the Q7’s lack of body roll over the X5’s liability to lean. Inside, the Audi’s interior exceeds the Bimmer in quality, providing standard leather, comfier seats, and more advanced technology. USB ports arrive standard and aren’t even available on the X5. For the same price you pay for the X5 with relatively basic safety features like blind spot detection, the Audi provides Traffic Jam Assist that literally drives your car for you at speeds less than 40 mph. These characteristics, combined with a higher reliability rating and more attractive design, make the Q7 a superior choice.
In the diesel segment, we believe the X5 xDrive35d is unmatched. Currently, Mercedes’ offering is tied up in litigation with the EPA, so no one knows when or if the GLS 350 Bluetec model will come to the US. If it does, it may outperform the X5. The Touareg TDI is no longer available due to the “dieselgate” emissions scandal continuing to plague Volkswagen Group. Slacking sales caused Porsche to discontinue the diesel Cayenne, though some may claim it’s a product of parent company VW’s legal woes. It appears the Jeep Grand Cherokee ecodiesel will not be offered this year either, which would definitely have given the X5 a run for its money. Audi offers excellent diesel alternatives in European markets, including a diesel hybrid and diesel SQ7, however, neither model is available in the US at the moment. If you want an amazing diesel luxury SUV, the X5 xDrive35d is your only choice and a quite excellent one at that. With class leading fuel economy, impressive performance, and all the creature comforts of a BMW, it might just be our pick of the litter. The xDrive40e hybrid is, frankly, completely outmatched by the Acura MDX hybrid. It’s over a second quicker to 60mph, it handles better, it is equipped with far more standard safety features. The MDX only falls short in branding. It is likely that the average BMW prospective buyer wouldn’t be caught dead in an Acura. We understand, but a sub 5.5 second 0-60 mph may change your mind. Handling is sharper due to its smaller size. The Acura also offers a third row that isn’t available in the X5 hybrid. The interior quality and infotainment system are better in the X5, but that’s about it. If you’re set on a hybrid in the midsize luxury segment, give the MDX a hard look before deciding.
If you use the third row for kids, there really isn’t an alternative to the xDrive50i in terms of performance as the ML63 AMG runs closer to a hundred grand. However, the Grand Cherokee SRT provides comparable performance at a similar price. Starting at $67,890, the American beast is priced like the Germans and delivers German-like performance. A 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds is one tenth of a second slower to sixty than the X5. The X5 is two-tenths quicker in the quarter mile at 12.8 seconds. In the handling category, the SRT outperforms the X5 at every corner. We never thought we’d see the day that an American made SUV outperforms BMW in the handling category! The cabin is luxurious and well finished, but maybe not quite as luxe as that of the X5. The Uconnect infotainment system is even simpler than iDrive, but who cares? You’ll be mesmerized by the rumble of the 6.5 Liter Hemi V8. We think the SRT is better looking, but it doesn’t provide the curb appeal of the BMW brand. The X5 is more subtle and probably suits a prospective BMW buyer better than the louder, literally and figuratively, Grand Cherokee SRT. If you can afford it, the BMW xDrive50i is a refined, German SUV that’s faster than many dedicated sports cars. What more could you need?
2,979cc twin scroll turbocharged inline 6 cylinder engine 300 hp @ 5,800rpm 300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200rpm
18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy
0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
2,979cc twin scroll turbocharged inline 6 cylinder engine 300 hp @ 5,800rpm 300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200rpm
18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy
0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
2,993cc twin scroll turbocharged inline 6 cylinder diesel engine 255hp @ 4,000rpm 413 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500rpm
23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy
0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds though we believe it to be closer to 6 seconds
2.0 liter twin scroll turbocharged inline 4 cylinder with additional lithium ion eDrive electric motor
308 hp 332 lb-ft of instant torque
54mpge fuel economy rating
0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
4,395cc twin turbo V8 445 hp @ 5,500rpm 480 ft-lb torque @ 2,000rpm
15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds