BMW X5 (2013-2018) review
The third-generation BMW X5 is an imposing and well built SUV, but there are faster and more spacious rivals
The BMW X5 was the first SUV from BMW back in the late 1990s. It was built as a rival to the Mercedes M-Class, and it took the market by storm, while it wasn't until 2006 that Audi responded with the gargantuan Q7. On the outside, the current X5 looks like an unexciting evolution of the previous car, while the interior matches modern rivals for fit, finish and design.
The chassis doesn’t live up to the promise of a raft of technology on board. The X5 is comfortable and spacious, though, and offers seating for seven if you're prepared to sacrifice some boot space.
If you’re after a premium image, luxurious interior and plenty of practicality, the X5 doesn’t disappoint; it’s just that it’s no longer the benchmark SUV that sets the standards in its class.
The BMW X5 set a new precedent for the German car maker. When it arrived in 1999, it was the company's first-ever SUV, but while most rivals were more interested in offering off-road ability and practicality, the X5 was geared towards delivering a car-like driving experience. It's a formula that BMW has developed over the years with a range of crossovers and SUVs, currently ranging from the X1 to the X6, although there are more X models in the pipeline.
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BMW's third generation X5 arrived in 2013, although with a subtly different look from its predecessor, you'd need to be a special kind of BMW nerd to recognise the differences. It has the usual set of BMW design touches, including a flared double kidney grille, distinctive lights front and rear and a traditional BMW window line. Under the skin, the X5 uses plenty of technology to boost its efficiency, and it's one of the better performing models in the SUV class for economy.
The X5 is a conventional five-door SUV, although if you want something that looks a bit different, the BMW X6 uses the same running gear, but gets a rakish coupe-like profile, but that does mean it has less space inside than the X5.
Most cars in the X5 range get diesel power, with petrol being the preserve of the high-performance and plug-in hybrid versions. The range kicks off with the rear-wheel-drive sDrive25d, which features a 218bhp four-cylinder diesel. This engine can also be had in the four-wheel drive xDrive25d.
The rest of the X5 range is xDrive 4WD, starting with the 30d, which has a 258bhp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel, while the 35d has been replaced by the 40d, which has the same engine as the 30d, but with 313bhp. The most powerful diesel is the M50d, which has a 381bhp version of the six-cylinder engine.
For petrol power, there's the 50i with a 450bhp 4.4-litre V8, while the 40e plug-in hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor to make 305bhp. At the top of the range is the X5M, which uses a 575bhp version of the 50i's V8. All cars in the range get BMW's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, while all models bar the X5M can be upgraded to seven seats for about £1,500.
The X5 comes in SE and M Sport trims, the latter being marked out by its extra kit and sharper looking bodykit. Prices for the range start from about £47,000 and go as high as £92,500 for the X5M, and from April all models will cost £450 a year in road tax for the first five years, except for the 40e, which will cost £440 thanks to its hybrid drive.
Rivals for the X5 are plentiful in the SUV class. Chief among these are the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne, both of which deliver more entertaining handling than the X5. The Mercedes GLE is a comfortable alternative, while the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 deliver even greater comfort and more spacious seven-seat layouts. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is highly rated by owners, and the VW Touareg is a worthy alternative, while the Maserati Levante and forthcoming Alfa Romeo Stelvio aim to pinch sales off the X5, too.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe third-generation BMW X5 is an imposing and well built SUV, but there are faster and more spacious rivals
- 2Engines, performance and driveNo longer a dynamic benchmark, but fine diesels in X5 offer a combination of efficiency, performance and refinement
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsMainstream X5 models won’t break the bank, but you’ll need deep pockets if you’re looking at the faster versions
- 4Interior, design and technologyEvolutionary styling should please fans of the BMW brand, plus there’s no shortage of tech inside the X5
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceLimo-like passenger accommodation and lots of luggage space make the latest X5 a supremely practical choice
- 6Reliability and SafetyA full house of safety tech will protect the family, but the X5’s reliability reports aren’t exactly glowing