BMW X5 SUV (2006 - ) Expert review
Read the BMW X5 4x4 (2007 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
- Impressive handling
- Excellent seating position
- Wide choice of potent engines
- Overly harsh ride
- High running costs
- Rearmost seats uncomfortable
At a glance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.