BMW X5 Review 2023
BMW X5 At A Glance
On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure
The BMW X5 is one of the original 'soft roaders', or SUVs. Along with less expensive models such as the Toyota RAV4, it took the favoured features of proper off-roaders - such as a high driving position and rugged styling - but applied them to a more road-biased model.
It's a formula that has proven very successful in the last two decades. And while 4x4 enthusiasts still deride it for not being a 'proper' mud-plugger, its popularity shows that buyers don't always need the ability to climb every mountain and ford every stream - just something that can handle potholed driveways and farm tracks if needs be.
The latest BMW X5 competes with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. It's now in its fourth generation with a new platform (shared with the larger BMW X7) and gets modest styling updates.
We'll address those styling updates first, as you could be forgiven for thinking the latest X5 looks quite a bit like its predecessor. But those larger front kidney grilles make it appear almost as aggressive as the new X7 (almost), while the rear bears more than a passing resemblance to the smaller BMW X1.
It's huge, too - longer, wider and higher than the old model, meaning there's all the interior space a modern family could possibly want. That includes 645 litres of boot space, while dropping the 40:20:40 split rear seats increases that to 1860 litres. It almost makes the X7 seem unnecessary.
A split rear tailgate aids access, while the optional Comfort Access feature allows you to open both sections hands-free. Even the boot floor drops electrically when required to increase space, while an optional extra pair of seats can be fitted in the boot.
Of course, BMW's once-flagship SUV isn't short of technology. Adaptive cruise will now sit in stationary traffic for up to 30 seconds before the driver has to nudge the accelerator to move forward, while the new Lane Change Assistant will hold the steering in your lane until you indicate to initiate a lane change.
There's even a Reversing Assistant, which controls the steering to manouvre the X5 back along a path recently negotiated forwards. It can retain the steering movements made during the car's last forward manouvre for long periods, meaning the system can reverse the new X5 out of a parking position that it drove into forwards the day before.
Buyers can choose from a variety of petrol and diesel engines, with a plug-in hybrid model also available.
Most buyers will opt for the smooth six-cylinder xDrive30d diesel, which is our choice of the range. It offers plentiful performance, reaching 62mph in 6.5 seconds, while returning respectable fuel economy. If that performance isn't plentiful enough, there's always the 40d, which is the same engine with an extra turbocharger.
One the petrol side, there's the xDrive 40i, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six and is pretty punchy, but substantially less economical.
Topping the 'normal' X5's range is the M50i performance model, with a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 and 523PS. Unsurprisingly, it tips the scale more towards out and out pace and away from fuel economy. Prior to 2020 there was a quad-turbo M50d diesel version that better blended those traits, but it's now been phased out. And finally, there's the rather bonkers, 625PS X5 M, if that's your sort of thing.
No matter which engine you choose, all X5 variants are good to drive. It's a big car, but while you'd struggle to call it agile, it's remarkably composed for something so big and heavy. Technology makes it easy to drive around town, too, and there's not much on the market that'll provide a more relaxing drive on the motorway.
The interior feels as upmarket as you'd expect from a BMW, although there are more buttons than you'd find in rivals. This might take a bit of getting used to and means the cabin looks a bit cluttered.
Our biggest grievance with the X5 used to be BMW's refusal to offer Android Auto - which says a lot about how good the car is. Happily, BMW rectified that in 2020, installing it over-the-air on every new X5. Otherwise, it's great to drive, with a premium interior and plenty of space for the family, although you certainly pay for that privilege.
Looking for a second opinion? Read heycar's BMW X5 review.