Large Premium SUV of the Year 2021: BMW X5

The BMW X5 is the 2021 Auto Express Premium SUV of the Year, with the Land Rover Discovery and Porsche Cayenne commended

Arguably the car that first put the ‘Sports’ into ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’, the BMW X5 has gone from strength to strength since the original made its debut in 1998. Now in its fourth generation, the large German machine is better than ever.

A year after securing its maiden New Car Awards success, the X5 has retained its grip on the winner’s trophy, its formidable mix of practicality, comfort and cutting-edge technology helping it fend off a host of talented rivals. It also helps that its spacious seven-seat interior is hugely versatile and oozes upmarket appeal, while the range of velvety smooth turbocharged petrol and diesel engines deliver knockout performance.

However, it’s the plug-in hybrid xDrive45e that’s the star of the show. Its blend of 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and electric motor delivers a towering 389bhp and the ability to travel up to 54 miles on battery power alone. Better still, the system is so refined and well integrated that most of the time you’ll struggle to tell which motor is running.

Regardless of engine, the X5 is beautifully built and hugely relaxing to drive, its soft ride and top-notch refinement delivering a soothing way to cover distance. The interior is vast and the 650-litre boot will swallow everything a family can throw at it, while the long list of standard equipment and luxury materials help justify its premium price tag. 

As with all BMWs, impressive dynamics shine through, with strong grip and body control allowing you to attack corners with gusto. As an upmarket large SUV all-rounder, the X5 has all the angles covered.

Best deal

BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport (£63,995)

Thanks to a generous £4,380 deposit contribution from BMW, the xDrive30d offers buyers one of the most affordable ways into X5 ownership. There’s no skimping on the quality, either, and the six-cylinder diesel engine is strong yet refined. Put down a 10 per cent deposit and a PCP deal will cost you £769 per month over three years.


Land Rover Discovery


The arrival of new Ingenium petrol and diesel engines with mild-hybrid tech means the Discovery remains in the hunt for class honours. It still features one of the most spacious and thoughtfully designed seven-seat cabins in the business, plus it’s unrivalled when the going gets tough.

Porsche Cayenne


No large SUV is more engaging to drive than the Cayenne, while the Turbo versions serve up scorching speed. Plug-in hybrid models broaden the car’s appeal, as does the relatively sleek Coupe variant. It’s expensive to buy, but if you can afford to take the plunge, the Cayenne takes some beating.

New Car Awards 2021: the winners

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