Used car tests

Used BMW X5 (Mk3, 2013-2018) review

The BMW X5 Mk3 is a comfortable and spacious upmarket large SUV that’s slightly let down by lacklustre handling

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Spacious interior
  • Economical diesels
  • Comfortable ride
  • Thirsty petrols
  • Lacklustre handling
  • Imperfect hybrid model


While it wasn’t the standard bearer for sporty handling this time around, the BMW X5 Mk3 was nevertheless a decent car to drive, and the trade-off for reduced handling prowess did at least result in a more comfortable ride. Factor in the roomy and well-equipped interior, and the car makes an appealing choice as a used family SUV. It’s not without its more prominent faults, though: the petrol and hybrid engines aren’t the best fits for the BMW and, while out-of-the-box equipment levels were generally good, some of the more convenient and desirable features were only available as optional extras.

Which one should I buy?

  • Best used BMW X5 Mk3 for fuel economy: xDrive40e SE
  • Best used BMW X5 Mk3 for families: xDrive30d SE
  • Best used BMW X5 Mk3 for performance: X5 M

The BMW X5 Mk3 debuted on UK roads in November 2013, and launched with many of the features that would be a constant throughout the car’s time in production. Two trim levels were available – the core SE spec and a performance-inspired M Sport trim – and engine options consisted of two diesels (the 30d and M50d) and a 50i petrol offering.

From January 2013, BMW X5 buyers could specify the car with a 40d diesel, which slotted in between the 30d and M50d engines that were available from launch. Joining the range at the same time was an entry-level 25d, which had to its name the distinction of being the only X5 engine you could equip with rear-wheel drive – every other model was exclusively all-wheel drive.

BMW X5 buyers after a high-performance offering would have their wishes granted in April 2015, when the 567bhp X5 M model was introduced to the line-up. At the other end of the scale, a 40e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with impressive on-paper efficiency figures would become available to order from October 2015. By June 2018, the third gen BMW X5 had been replaced by a fourth-gen model.

Deciding the trim level on the BMW X5 Mk3 is easy, as just two were available: the aforementioned SE and M Sport specs. Making the decision even easier is the fact equipment levels were broadly similar across both specs, so you aren’t missing out on too much by opting for one over the other. However, the vast optional equipment list when the car was new means the spec on used BMW X5 Mk3’s can vary considerably from car to car.

While there are petrol versions of the BMW X5 Mk3, they aren’t the easiest to recommend: as well as being more expensive to run than the diesels, they’re also more expensive like-for-like and there aren’t as many to choose from. As a result, the diesel engines make more sense, with their good blend of performance and efficiency, and there will be more examples to choose from on the used market.

What are the alternatives?

The BMW X5 Mk3’s most obvious rivals are the large SUVs from rival premium brands. Of the many options to consider, there are cars such as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Velar and Volvo XC90.

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That assortment of alternatives grows even more if you look beyond the upmarket options and start including cars from more mainstream manufacturers. The Volkswagen Touareg is a worthy candidate in this regard, as are top-spec versions of non-premium large SUVs such as the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Skoda Kodiaq.

If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of practicality for a tweaked aesthetic, there is also the BMW X6 to consider. Underneath, it’s ostensibly the same car as the BMW X5, and comes with the same technology and engine options. However, it has a more aggressively sloped roofline that gives the car a distinctive profile, at the expense of boot space and head room.

BMW X5 vs Porsche Macan vs Range Rover Velar

Range Rover Velar vs BMW X5 vs Porsche Macan

In September 2017, we pitted the BMW X5 up against the Porsche Macan and the at-the-time brand new Range Rover Velar. Despite being the oldest car here, the BMW X5 impressed with its strong performance and good equipment levels, but inferior handling and a firm ride meant we rated it last behind the Velar and the victorious Porsche. Read the full test...

BMW X5 vs Porsche Cayenne vs Volvo XC90

BMW X5 vs Porsche Cayenne vs Volvo XC90 - header

The plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X5 went up against its petrol-electric rivals from Porsche and Volvo in our electrified SUV group test from April 2016. While the BMW was the most affordable of the trio, it was also the worst in areas such as boot space, fuel economy and performance, which contributed to it finishing last behind the winning Volvo XC90 and the runner-up Porsche Cayenne. Read the full test...

BMW X5 vs Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel vs BMW X5 M50d

The sportiest diesel version of the BMW X5 went head-to-head with the oil-burning equivalent of its Porsche Cayenne nemesis in June 2013. It outshone the Porsche in areas such as practicality , but the BMW’s deficiencies in areas like handling, price and performance meant it couldn’t beat the Porsche in this twin test. Read the full test...

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