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The side exterior of a white BMW X5

BMW X5 review

The BMW X5 is an SUV that has all the gadgets you could want. The best thing about the X5 is the way it drives, blending a smooth ride with impressive handling despite being such a big car.


  • Plenty of road presence
  • Excellent interior space and comfort
  • Latest technology and Bluetooth connectivity


  • Most models are expensive to run
  • Not as capable off-road as some rivals
  • Plug-in hybrid isn't as practical as other models


“The BMW X5 has always been popular and it’s evolved to become the benchmark executive SUV.”

The BMW X5 is a premium SUV that offers luxury, space and practicality, while providing a feeling of status and presence.

The last generation (pre-2018), is comfortable, great to drive and has plenty of technology. Although most extras were optional for the new buyer, you’ll find plenty of used models with extras fitted, such as rear seat entertainment and a head-up display, which projects everything from navigation to speed information onto the windscreen, so there’s no need to look down.
Diesel models are the usual choice and while there are two-wheel drive versions, the xDrive all-wheel drive cars are the most popular. They cope well with everything from an enjoyable A-road drive to slippery winter roads and gravel tracks.
The fourth-generation arrived in 2018 with the latest in interior design and engine technology. It also came with more interior tech, such as two digital screens, one for the infotainment and one for the driver's instrumentation.

What’s the interior like?

“Loads of space for the whole family and a relaxed environment for the driver.”

The interior of the X5 is uncluttered, all the controls are well positioned and the dashboard has nice clean lines. There’s lots of headroom for the driver and passengers as well as decent legroom for those in the back.
Boot space is good with a split tailgate (boot lid), providing 650 litres which is big enough for several large suitcases. The amount of space reduces if you choose a model with the third row of seats and there's even less space in the five-seater plug-in hybrid model.
The materials are excellent and convey the high-quality feel you expect from the brand, with a solid feeling to all the buttons. A wide infotainment screen is operated through the easy to use multi-media device called the iDrive controller that’s located in the centre console.

The latest generation features a bigger infotainment screen in the dash itself, the option of digital instrumentation and a wider and cleaner centre console.
The various trim packages mean you can find everything from standard to luxury, including racy M Sport styling, which you’ll have to pay a little more for.

What’s it like to drive?

“Much more agile than you'd expect for such a big SUV.”

The X5 feels lighter and more agile than you might expect. It’s still a big SUV but it rides smoothly on the motorway and corners well on back roads, especially on models fitted with the active suspension and Dynamic Drive. It’s also easy to live in town, partly because of a long list of driver assistance features and the option of a parking assistant.

The steering is light but feels more sporty at speed. The automatic gearbox is smooth and allows driver involvement with gearshift paddles so you can change gears without taking your hands off the steering wheel. There’s also a range of drive settings from Eco Pro to Sport+.

For the latest 2018 generation, BMW has improved the X5’s ability to go off the beaten track with an optional Off-Road Pack.

The diesels are the most popular choice with the xDrive25d and xDrive30d engines offering power and efficiency. There's also the very powerful M50d. Petrol choices are limited to the xDrive50i engine or the X5M performance model.

A bonus in the plug-in hybrid is that BMW says you can do up to 19 miles in electric-only mode.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“The entry-level diesels provide the best fuel economy.”

The X5 is a big car with luxury and technology in abundance so it’s never going to be a cheap model to run.

The 25d models are the most efficient delivering up to 50 mpg, but you’ll be visiting the pumps a lot if you go for the high performance X5M. Servicing and parts costs are similar to its German competitors as are insurance costs with most X5 models sitting in the higher groups.

How reliable and safe is it?

“All the latest safety technology provides excellent peace of mind.”

The X5 has a good reputation for reliability and later models are likely to still have warranties and service plans in place.

Safety is excellent with a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. Plus it comes with lots of electronic systems, from autonomous emergency braking to active cruise control. Some models will have a great head-up display to help you keep your eyes on the road, while all have airbags and Isofix points.

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - sDrive25d M Sport

Best for family - sDrive30d SE 7-seater

Best for fun - X5M

The sDrive25d models are the surprise of the range, offering great economy with decent power for most journeys. They're only rear-wheel drive but that won’t matter to most drivers, who’ll never venture off-road. However, if you go for the xDrive30d model you’ll get more power without losing out too much on consumption making it a great all-rounder.

The SE or xLine in the latest generation is the best choice, unless you find a standard model with exactly the extras fitted that you want. It's also worth looking at the M Sport versions, particularly if you want the best resale value.

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