The BMW X5 was the first car that lay priority over on-road performance and assistance over off-road experiences. This has become somewhat of a norm in the 4×4 class.
This latest version is very much an evolution of what’s gone before, but it is the most luxurious and efficient X5 yet.
Here’s a list of pros and cons.
Space in the BMW X5
Every X5 is spacious enough to keep four large adults happy, while a fifth will be reasonably comfortable in its central rear seat. By contrast, the rival Porsche Cayenne struggles to accommodate more than four people because it has less shoulder room and forces a central rear passenger to straddle a lump in the floor.
BMW extends its advantage by offering an optional third row of seats that can be folded flat when they’re not in use. Just bear in mind that these seats are really only for children and emergencies; space is much tighter than it is in the third row of the Land Rover Discovery.
Like the Discovery, the X5 has a tailgate that’s split in two, with the lower half opening downwards to double as a loading platform. Meanwhile, the boot itself is easily big enough to cope with a family’s holiday luggage.
There are lots of storage spaces in the front of the car, too.
Comfort in the BMW X5
The X5 is available with several suspension setups, but I’d recommend the Adaptive Comfort suspension that’s available on SE versions of the car because this makes it a comfortable cruiser.
M Sport models come with Adaptive M Sport suspension instead, and this is nowhere near as forgiving.
The seats in the X5 are supportive. However, BMW’s manual seat controls are horribly fiddly, so if more than one person is going to drive the car regularly, you’ll definitely want electric seat adjustment.
All of the diesel engines in the X5 transmit some unpleasant vibration through the pedals when you accelerate, although the 30d engine is quieter than the 25d and the 50d.
Dashboard Styling of the BMW X5
Like other BMWs, the X5 comes with the company’s iDrive control system, which is one of the best around.
You operate most functions by scrolling through logical onscreen menus using a rotary dial that’s positioned just behind the gearstick, where it’s easy to reach. And there are shortcut buttons that you can programme to take you straight to the functions you use most often.
The way the screen is positioned high on the dash also aids usability because it means you can always keep half an eye on the road.
And while the dashboard doesn’t look as swanky as the Porsche Cayenne’s, the X5 still feels every inch the premium product.
Driving Ease of the BMW X5
You sit high in the X5, so get an excellent view of the road ahead. And while rear visibility isn’t as good as it is in the Land Rover Discovery, there are no major blind spots to worry about.
Steering that’s light at low speed adds to the ease of driving, as does the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox that’s standard on every model. Only the X5’s considerable size makes it a little tricky to manoeuvre and park.
Even if you choose one of the softer suspension setups, the X5 remains impressively composed in corners.
True, it feels like a heavier car than the Porsche Cayenne and the steering isn’t as precise, but the X5 is still impressively agile for something so big and tall.
As long as you avoid the 25d model, it makes overtaking easy, too.
Reliability of the BMW X5
BMW matches Land Rover and Mercedes in providing a warranty that lasts for three years, no matter how many miles you do. And it betters Audi and Porsche here, because they stop their cover after three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Big 4x4s tend to drink a lot of fuel, but the X5 is more efficient than most. The 30d diesel version returns an official average of 45.6mpg, whereas the equivalent Porsche Cayenne manages only 39.2mpg and the Land Rover Discovery 35.3mpg.
If you’re prepared to live without four-wheel drive, you can even have an X5 with an average of more than 50mpg.
Safety of the BMW X5
Like most modern cars, the X5 has a stability control system that can automatically rein in the engine’s power and brake individual wheels to help you stay in control in poor conditions.
It also has front, side and window airbags in case an accident proves unavoidable. But it’s a little disappointing that these window ’bags don’t extend far enough to protect people in the optional third row of seats.
Another standard feature is a trailer assist system that aids stability when you’re towing.
Meanwhile, the options list includes a head-up display that projects your speed on to the windscreen so you don’t have to look down at the instruments, and a night vision camera that highlights pedestrians you might not otherwise see in the dark.