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BMW X5 4×4 (2007 – 2013) expert review

By Stuart Milne, 22nd February 2008

The verdict

The BMW X5 4x4 provides sport-saloon driving in an SUV-shaped package. With power and poise it stands out amongst its peers.

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Expert rating:



  • Impressive handling
  • Excellent seating position
  • Wide choice of potent engines


  • Overly harsh ride
  • High running costs
  • Rearmost seats uncomfortable

Full Review

1. Exterior

More an evolution than a revolution over the previous car, the second-generation BMW X5 4×4 has a contemporary look making it among the most handsome cars in its class. There’s no denying the BMW X5 has massive presence on the road, but unlike some 4×4s like the Land Rover Discovery that trades on rugged looks, the X5 still has the blend of curves and angles which are now a BMW trademark.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

There’s a familiarity with the cabin of the BMW X5. The convex dash which swoops away from the driver plus clear, orange-lit controls are all becoming BMW trademarks. BMW’s controversial iDrive system operates the car’s ancillary controls, such as the navigation and entertainment systems and despite negative reports, quickly becomes intuitive to use. The seating position is excellent, with the gearstick mounted high, and the seat adjusts in enough different ways to make getting comfortable a doddle.
Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

The second-generation BMW X5 sprouted a third row of seats to compete with the growing number of seven-seat SUVs on the market, including the Audi Q7. While they can fit two adults, anything longer than a trip around the block will get uncomfortable. The space in the front two rows is excellent. The good news is the seats are simple to operate and fold flush into the boot floor. The boot grows from 620 litres to a cavernous 1,750 litres, and the tailgate splits, allowing it to open in confined spaces.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

The BMW X5’s unique selling point is the way it handles. It corners almost as flatly as the BMW 5 Series saloon with which is shares some DNA, and although the steering is slightly vague (very few SUVs have really responsive steering), it can be hustled along winding roads as quickly as a Porsche Cayenne.  Unsurprisingly for a 4×4, there’s no shortage of grip either. The downside to the BMW X5’s otherwise excellent driving manners is a remarkably hard ride. This has a lot to do with the puncture-proof run-flat tyres which come as standard.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

More good marks here, regardless of whether the 3- or 4.8-litre petrol or 3-litre diesel engine is specified. The 3-litre petrol will reach 62mph from rest in 8.1 seconds, while the 3-litre diesel will do it in 9.3. Those looking for outright performance will be pleased to know the 4.8 will hit the same marker in just 6.5 seconds. Top speeds are 140, 134 and 152mph respectively. In practice, this means the X5 offers plenty of low-down grunt and a very smooth power delivery, which often means travelling faster than it might seem.
Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

A 2.7 tonne SUV isn’t going to be cheap to run, regardless of the engine chosen. The 3-litre diesel is the choice for economy, averaging 32.5mpg; the 3-litre and 4.8 will cover 25.9 and 22.6mpg respectively. And CO2 emissions for the 3.0d, 3.0 and 4.8 are 231, 260 and 299g/km, placing all models in tax band G, costing £400 a year. Insurance groups 17 to 19 will be expensive too. But continued demand for the BMW X5 on the used market means it’ll retain between 55 and 59 per cent of its value after three years/36,000 miles.
Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

The BMW X5 4×4 feels like a solid machine, and the quality and fit and finish is commensurate with a premium-badged SUV costing upwards of £40,000.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Although the second-generation BMW X5 hasn’t been put through the EuroNCAP crash test programme, the previous model was and scored a full five star rating for adult occupant protection. All models feature driver, passenger, front side and first and second row airbags (although there’s no protection for the third row), Dynamic Stability Control+, which encompasses a plethora of safety devices and run-flat tyres with warning sensors.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

All models in the BMW X5 range come equipped with cruise control with brake function, fog lamps, bright halogen headlamps with washers, front and rear park sensors, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, air-con, front and rear electric windows, start button, auxiliary input for MP3 players, CD player with colour screen and an on-board computer. The 4.8-litre model adds chrome tailpipes, electrically-operated leather seats and xenon headlamps. The 3-litre models feature 17-inch alloys, while the 4.8 gets 18s.
Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The BMW X5 is the SUV that thinks it’s a sports saloon, and as a result offers superb handling regardless of which potent engine you choose.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.9stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
X5 xDrive 30d SE
The most wallet-friendly X5 in the range.
X5 xDrive 30d M Sport
M Sport additions make this the best all-rounder.
Blow the budget:
X5 xDrive 50i M Sport
Big engine and big power for the big-budget X5.

The BMW X5 is the SUV that thinks it’s a sports saloon.