The X5 is a large SUV that’s available with seven seats, a range of powerful engines and a well-built interior, although newer SUVs have more of a feel-good factor inside
You simply can’t miss the BMW X5 whether it’s in a car park or your rear-view mirror – it’s a big, imposing SUV that looks and feels expensive from every angle.
It’s largely the same story inside, where the cabin is constructed out of lovely feeling materials that you sense are put together so well they’ll last a lifetime. What isn’t so good is the actual dashboard design. It’s alright, but BMW hasn’t updated the X5 since it was introduced in 2014, and if you step into an Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90 you’ll realise that newer cars’ cabins have much more of a wow factor than the ageing BMW.
Those whippersnappers can’t quite compete with the X5’s infotainment system though – the iDrive control wheel on the centre console makes it easier to use without taking your eyes off the road than the Volvo’s touchscreen, and naturally the big BMW gets satellite navigation as standard. It also doesn’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems, nor the swanky digital driver’s display that you’ll find in the Audi and Volvo – another sign that the X5 is getting old.
You can’t argue with the X5’s rear passenger space though. There’s acres of room, three adults fit abreast more comfortably than in a Mercedes GLE and the doors open nice and wide so it’s easy for elderly relatives to step in. You can pay extra to add a third row of seats to turn it into a seven seater, but they are only big enough for small kids, and you’re better off with the roomier back seats in the Land Rover Discovery if you want to carry seven people regularly.
The BMW’s boot is very practical though. It’s very big, and can hold a bike with both wheels attached if you flip the rear three seats down – but if outright carrying capacity is high on your list of priorities then the Audi Q7’s vast space is even bigger.
The X5 is a bit like Sean Connery – it’s getting on a bit, but is still impressively handsome
The X5 can still hold its own against newer cars with its smooth standard-fit automatic gearbox and choice of powerful engines.
Your best bet is the smooth six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel. It’s reasonably economical on longer trips, quiet and gives the X5 impressive acceleration for such a big car. There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel that’s worth considering if you’ll don’t plan on towing or travelling fully loaded most of the time, and it’s a far better choice than the expensive and surprisingly thirsty petrol-electric hybrid option.
Whichever you pick, the X5 easy to drive around town thanks to few blind spots, but it is surprisingly bumpy at lower speeds, even if you spend £2,000 on the optional adaptive suspension. It does smooth out at motorway speeds, but then you’ll notice the road and wind noise, which is louder than in the likes of the GLE and Q7. It’s grips well in corners and doesn’t lean that much either, but it lacks some of the latest safety kit that you can get in the Audi.
Despite these shortcomings, the X5 is still a very good large SUV. It feels posh, but isn’t the comfiest and is quite old – so make sure to use carwow to grab a cracking deal on one.