BMW X5 review
BMW X5 is stylish, good to drive, frugal and can tackle rough terrain when it needs to
The BMW X5 was one of the first SUVs that was designed more for on-road use than it was off-road. It concentrated on delivering style, handling and comfort rather than rugged go-anywhere ability. It's now in its second generation and it's smarter, more efficient and more capable than ever before thanks toa wide range of diesel engines and hi-tech gadgets. Despite the styling of this new car being around since 2007 it still looks fresh too.
Our pick: BMW X5 xDrive30d SE
The original BMW X5 was introduced in 1999 and when the second generation came along BMW decided not to change the styling too much because it still looked good. The new model has now been around since 2007 and the same applies. Sharp lines, stylish alloys and good proportions mean it looks as modern as ever. The interior has stood the test of time well, still managing to feel up-to-date and premium.
The big-sellers in the BMW X5 range are the diesels. BMW offers a 30d or a 40d model, both 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engines producing 242bhp and 302bhp respectively. The lower powered of the two feels quick enough, boasting a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. There's 50i model too powered by a 4.4-litre petrol V8 and it's blisteringly quick. If you're after more performance BMW does offer 'M' badged petrol and diesels models too that are quicker still. The BMW X5 sets the benchmark for handling in this segment with a well controlled body, plenty of grip and communicative steering.
Both BMW and its X5 performed well in our Driver Power survey, with the current car placing a respectable 36th in the overall results table. This was slightly behind the Range Rover Sport but well ahead of the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery. The latest model has never been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the previous model gained full marks, and we've no reason to believe the current car would be any different. All new BMWs come with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, and comprehensive fixed-price service plans available, too.
For large families BMW does offer the X5 with an optional third row of seats. They're a bit cramped but do fold completely flat into the floor so if you won't be using them most of the time, you won't notice they're there. The 530-litre boot is big but not compared with rivals. In case you need to liberate more spacious you can always fold down the back seats to increase the load area to 1,750 litres. Thankfully, parking sensors come as standard, which will help when parking a car as large as this.
This is the reason why the diesels are so popular – the M50d diesel model boasts the same performance as the 50i petrol but the figures are 37.7mpg and 22.6mpg respectively. It's a similar story when you come to look at the road tax too. Going by current rates you'd save £555 in the first year having opted for the diesel. The 'Service Inclusive' package is great value, too, and covers all servicing costs for 5 years/60,000 miles.