BMW X5 Review 2024

BMW X5 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The BMW X5 has been the premium SUV class benchmark for many years, and the latest model remains at the top of its game. Unless off-roading is a priority, nothing else for the money is as good to drive or as nice to sit in.

+Excellent interior with plenty of space and luxury. Great to drive with impressive petrol, diesel and hybrid options.

-Lots of buttons in the cabin. Optional third row of seats aren't the roomiest. Expensive in higher trims.

New prices start from £60,735
Insurance Group 50
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.

Ask Honest John

What's the best car for a tall elderly driver?

"With the ULEZ zone due to expand I need to change my diesel Toyota Corolla Verso for something compliant. The problem is I am 6ft 10 inches tall and have arthritis in my spine which makes getting in and out of a car difficult. I have looked at a lot of cars but find on the likes of a Honda CR-V and Honda Jazz there is not enough head room on the door aperture so I have to put my head in first and then shuffle onto the seat. I tried a Skoda Superb but the seat is too low for easy entry. Looking at mobility cars, it would seem that a Mercedes Vito or Sprinter are the only vehicles with suitable access but are too big for everyday use. Any thoughts on an alternative? I would prefer a petrol automatic as I don’t do many miles and it is usually in traffic."
Given the need for a high seating position for easy access and lots of headroom we would suggest an SUV would suit your needs best. We would recommend looking at the Skoda Kodiaq, BMW X5, Volvo XC90 or the Kia Sportage, all of which are available with petrol engines and automatic transmissions.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend an SUV or estate car that can carry ladders?

"My 2014 2.0-litre diesel auto BMW 5 Series falls foul of the clean air zone (CAZ) requirements. It's been my third 5 Series, used for my work as a surveyor. The rear seats fold to accommodate my ladders and other long equipment. I'm looking to replace it with a CAZ compliant vehicle that fulfills the role. My motoring is a mixture of local journeys and longer runs of up to 300 miles round trips, including the London area. I have got used to a larger car, and automatic is a must. I'm not wedded to BMW and would consider something cheaper but of decent quality, finish and accessories. Comfortable seats and a quiet cabin are desirable. I have always preferred lighter coloured interior upholstery. I have tended to buy used cars at about 3 years old. An initial search suggested a Ford Mondeo estate, but I am aware that the fashion is now for the SUV type of vehicle, and I'm not a fan of estate cars, though I would consider one. Can you suggest a few alternatives that I might consider? My budget is flexible but, if my car is worth about £6,000, I would not wish to add much more that £14,000-£16,000 to that."
The issue with SUVs is that they may not be long enough to accommodate your equipment, unless you go for something large such as a Kia Sorento or BMW X5/Audi Q7. Other options we would be considering are the Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Superb Estate, the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, the Volvo V90 and the Mazda 6 Tourer. A Skoda Kodiaq may also fulfill your needs but again isn't as long as the estate cars here.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

I'm keeping my BMW X5 10 years, should I use a dealer for servicing?

"We have just taken delivery of our new BMW X5 (GO5 model) 3.0-litre petrol MHT M Sport and intend keeping it for 10 years. Would it be best to have servicing etc done by BMW or a specialist who can enter online details with genuine parts being used to retain full warranty and possibly extended warranty?"
You are correct, you can have the car serviced outside of the dealer network and maintain its manufacturer warranty. But the garage will need to service the car in accordance with BMW's service schedule and use approved parts and fluids (and show this on an itemised invoice). If you do service the car outside of the BMW dealer network you will save money. But the car may miss out on important updates and software upgrades (which are usually applied by the dealer at the annual service). BMW UK and the dealer will also be less inclined to provide free assistance with any issues that may arise outside of the manufacturer warranty period, too.
Answered by Dan Powell

When is the best time to sell my BMW X5?

"I have a 2016 BMW X5 bought from new. I want to sell it because I plan to move overseas soon. The MoT expires in mid July and it is due a service in May, my insurance is also due in May so I want to sell before then. Should I sell it now and avoid the cost of servicing and insurance etc or wait until May, have it serviced and also early MoT to possibly sell easier and get more money for it?"
It'll certainly be easier to sell with a fresh MoT and recent service. Having said that, used car prices are currently very strong. I'd be inclined to offer it as it is to dealers via a service such as – most won't be too concerned about a relatively short MoT on a fairly modern X5.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a BMW X5 cost?