For many years now, the BMW X5 has been a popular up-market, family SUV.
The original was radically different from what BMW was known for, but now the X5 is one of its better sellers.
What made the X5 so well liked was its winning combination of high quality interior, available seating for seven, and sporty driving dynamics.
Using an evolutionary design philosophy, the third generation improved on the success of its predecessors.
The current X5 is built on the same platform as the past generation. Despite this, it was cleverly engineered to shave almost 200 lbs off its curb weight. Also, today’s X5 has a redesigned body which boasts more interior space.
The new exterior was only slightly modified and is still very much recognizable as an X5. The biggest change, the reworked headlights now extend into the signature kidney-shaped grille.
New aerodynamic elements have been integrated into the overall design to retain aesthetic harmony. They include Air Curtains, Air Breathers, and Aero Blades for the rear window.
The three available engines are also familiar as they are simply newer generations of the offerings from the past.
At the top is a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8 that can sprint to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. This is thanks to its 445 hp and 479 ft-lbs of torque.
The base models come with a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, which produces 300 hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque. While it may not be as quick, it will return a 9.6L/100km combined fuel rating.
However if its fuel economy you’re after, you will want the 3.0-litre six cylinder diesel. This engine makes 255 hp and 413 ft-lbs of torque and can return 5.9-litres per 100 km of combined driving.
All models come with BMW’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. This boasts BMW Efficient Dynamics technology which includes a stop start system, a coasting function and Proactive Driving Assistant.
As expected, the previous generation’s hydraulic power steering has been replaced by an electric unit. The new steering is comparatively numb, but overall it’s well weighted and feels more like a luxury SUV and less like a truck.
When on the road, the excellent visibility and raised driving position means that despite its large size, the X5 is pretty easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Also, the way the X5 handles belies its bulk. There is very little body roll through corners, it offers plenty of grip, and overall it’s one of the sportiest in this segment.
It’s also highly comfortable, which is one area it has improved over the previous model. Though, the adaptive suspension, only standard on M Sport models, allows you to make it as comfy as it can be.
Thankfully, the X5 is sufficiently sporty in Normal mode and the Sport setting is not necessary. In Sport mode, the suspension becomes overly firm and jumpy over bumps, and the steering weight becomes almost cumbersome.
Also, the X5 is not the best SUV off the road. However, it is a great all-around vehicle on it, which is where most luxury SUVs spend all of their time anyways.
With that thought in mind, the X5’s new interior feels even more up market than before. The leather, heated front seats look nice and are very comfortable. The leather steering wheel is also heated.
To make the X5 even more luxurious, the dash features ambiance lighting across the dash which compliments the massive panoramic sunroof.
The latest generation of Navigation System Professional with its 10.25-inch HD display is standard on the X5 xDrive50i. It has been made easier to use because you can now input destinations with the swipe of your finger on the iDrive’s touch-sensitive controller.
In terms of practicality, the X5 has the same split tailgate as before, but the upper portion can now be electronically operated. The lower half folds down flat making loading and unloading of heavy items easier.
As far as outright cargo space, the X5 is a few litres less than some of its rivals. However, after folding the three-way split rear seats down flat, total volume is more than most. Also, because it comes standard with runflat tires, there’s no need for a spare, freeing up space in the cargo area floor.
In the back seats, there’s plenty of room for someone over six feet tall. You can also comfortably sit three abreast thanks in no small part to the flat floor giving everyone somewhere to put their feet.
Storage in throughout the cabin is good too. The X5 has large door bins in both the front and rear, cup holders in the rear centre armrest, and airplane style folders on the front seat backs.
The BMW X5 is a nice looking SUV inside and out and offers a level of refinement that rivals many vehicles priced much higher. However, the previous generation X5 didn’t garner the highest reliability ratings, and since a lot of that model has been carried over to this one, questions will be raised.