BMW X5 (2013-2017) review
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
What's not so good
Find out more about the BMW X5 (2013-2017)
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.
The X5’s flat rear floor makes it one of the best SUVs for carrying three adults in the back at once but it’s boot isn’t as generous as in some ginormous alternatives
The BMW X5’s optional, cramped third row of seats is perfect for giving lifts to annoying relatives – stick them in there and you can guarantee they’ll take the bus home next time
The X5’s tall body and raised ride height mean it’s easy to climb into and there’s plenty of seat adjustment to help very tall drivers get comfortable in the front. Even entry-level SE models come with electric seat-height adjustment as standard but adjustable lumbar support (to help prevent back ache on long drives) is a £275 option on all X5s.
Jump in the back seats and you’ll be treated to loads of head and knee room but you can’t recline the rear seats like you can in a Lexus RX. There’s still loads of leg room, however, and plenty of space to tuck your feet under the seats in front.
There’s no annoying lump in the X5’s floor to get in the way of your passengers’ feet (unlike in most SUVs) and there’s more room for carrying three adults abreast than you’ll find in a Mercedes GLE or Lexus RX.
You can get the BMW with a third row of seats for an extra £990 or £1,410 – depending on which model you pick. Its large back doors mean you don’t have to be an olympic gymnast to squeeze into the rearmost seats but leg and knee room are a little too tight for tall adults to get comfortable – a Volvo XC90 will be a better bet if you often carry seven people.
The large door openings also make it easy to lift a child seat into place but the Isofix anchor points are hidden behind the back seat padding. This makes it more of a pain to fit the seat base than in a Mercedes GLE but at least the BMW’s high roof means you don’t have to stoop down to strap in a child. Unfortunately, you don’t get a set of Isofix anchor points on the front passenger seat like you do in an Audi Q7.
There are plenty of handy cubby holes in the X5’s spacious cabin. There’s easily enough space for one large and one small bottle in each front door bin and those in the back are only slightly smaller. The glovebox is generous and there’s plenty of space to hide some valuables under the large split-folding front armrest.
You get two cupholders in the front and a second pair built into the folding rear armrest as standard but a wireless charging pad for your phone will set you back a rather eye-watering £470 across the X5 range.
The X5’s 650-litre boot certainly isn’t small but it’s not quite as roomy as the 690-litre Mercedes GLE or 770-litre Audi Q7. It’s still easily big enough to carry a set of golf clubs or a large baby stroller and some soft bags and there’s no annoying boot lip to lift heavy items over. Pick a hybrid model, however, and the BMW’s boot shrinks to a less practical 500 litres thanks to the batteries stored under the floor.
All models come with some buttons in the boot to fold the rear seats down remotely so there aren’t any tricky-to-reach catches beside the headrests to worry about. They fold in a handy three-way (40:20:40) split as standard too, so you can carry some long luggage in the boot and two passengers in the back at the same time.
With all the seats flipped down, the X5’s boot grows to a roomy 1,870 litres. That’s easily big enough to carry a bike with its wheels attached but still lags some way behind the more capacious 1,953-litre Audi Q7. Once again, the hybrid loses out by 150 litres of space when you fold its seats down.
Thankfully, the boot floor is nearly completely flat in all X5s so it’s easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats. There’s a small amount of underfloor storage for hiding valuables safely out of sight and you also get a storage tray, a netted cubby and a selection of tether points and shopping hooks to stop small items rolling around.
Another neat feature is the X5’s split bootlid. Lift just the top section if you need to throw in a few small shopping bags or fold the bottom down to turn the X5 into a two-tonne mobile park bench.
The BMW X5 might not be the big-car handling yardstick it used to be but it’s still very capable, surprisingly good fun and very easy to drive – if a bit noisy
The BMW X5 feels more like a high-riding saloon than a huge SUV – especially if you fork out for the dynamic suspension. It costs nearly £2,000 but it’s definitely worth it
You can get the X5 with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines and with either two or four-wheel drive. Entry-level models come with a 2.0-litre diesel engine driving just the rear wheels while the fastest 50i versions come with a 450hp 4.4-litre petrol engine and four-wheel drive as standard.
Pick a two-wheel-drive, four-cylinder sDrive 25d model if you spend most time around town. Its 231hp diesel engine is easily powerful enough to haul the X5’s large body around and it’ll return approximately 40mpg in real-world conditions (compared to BMW’s claimed 53.3mpg). It’s not quite as smooth as the larger six-cylinder diesel models but it doesn’t grumble too loudly when you accelerate hard.
If you spend lots of time on the motorway, you’ll want to consider one of the 30d or 40d 3.0-litre diesel versions. Both come with four-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox and can return around 40mpg in normal driving conditions. The latter is noticeably faster, however, and can breeze past slow-moving traffic with ease.
The 40e plug-in hybrid model is only really suitable if you do lots of short journeys around town and have somewhere to charge it. It can travel in near-silent electric-only mode for around 19 miles, but once its 2.0-litre petrol engine’s called upon to drive the wheels it becomes a touch noisier than the diesels. Unlike some hybrid cars, it’s not exempt from the London congestion charge and you’ll struggle to get anywhere near BMW’s claimed 85mpg.
If you want true sports-car pace from your tall SUV, the high-performance 50i petrol and M40d models might be for you. They’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.9 and 5.3 seconds respectively but will set you back more than £64,000 and the 50i in particular will cost lots to run.
The BMW X5 is reasonably easy to drive around town – for a high-riding SUV that is. There aren’t any annoying blind spots to worry about so pulling out of junctions is a breeze and the standard front and rear parking sensors make parking relatively stress-free, too. The steering’s reasonably light and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive – even at slow speeds.
Its standard suspension deals with bumps reasonably well but the optional £1,995 adaptive dynamic suspension package is well worth paying extra for. It’s standard on all M Sport models and helps smooth out bumps in the road as well as stopping the X5’s body from leaning too much in tight corners. It’s no sports car – and certainly can’t match the Porsche Cayenne for driving fun – but it carries its weight with more composure than either the Mercedes GLE or Lexus RX.
Unfortunately, head out onto a fast back road or motorway and you’ll hear quite a bit more wind and tyre noise in the X5 than you would in a Mercedes GLE or Audi Q7. It’s by no means deafening but it makes the BMW slightly less relaxing to drive on long journeys than some other large SUVs.
It’s also a little off-putting that Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the X5, although it comes with a wide range of safety systems to help prevent avoidable collisions. All X5s come with BMW’s Driving Assistance pack – a combination of lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking (a system that’ll brake for you if it detects an obstacle ahead) – as standard.
The optional Driving Assistant Plus pack is well worth paying an extra £1,330 for if you want to boost safety. It comes with the same features as the standard pack but adds active cruise control (that can match you speed to that of other cars) and a system that can essentially drive the car for you in heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The X5’s interior is well put together and everything’s easy to use but it just doesn’t feel quite as special as what you get in some alternatives