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What is the BMW X5?

Now in its fourth-generation, the X5 was BMW’s first move into the ever-expanding SUV market, and what a move it proved to be.

BMW now offers seven crossovers, so the X5 has quite a legacy after two decades on sale.

In Mk4 guise, the X5 goes toe-to-toe with the Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7 for plush SUV supremacy.

Although it’s never quite had the prestigious style of a Range Rover or the badge kudos of the Porsche, like the Q7, the X5’s always had road presence. It also offers commendable driving dynamics, as a riposte to the festival of body-roll that Range Rovers once were.

At-a-glance 2019 BMW X5 specs

  • Top speed: 130-155mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.2-6.5 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 25-37mpg
  • Emissions: 158-200g/km of CO2
  • Boot space: 645-1,860 litres

Which versions of the BMW X5 are available?

As with its predecessors, the Mk4 X5 (G05 to use its internal codename), the American-built crossover is available in just a single bodystyle.

Both five- and seven-seater versions of the BMW X5 SUV are available – although, as this generation was only launched towards the end of 2018, the range is still being fleshed out.

BMW X5 2018-on rear

A range of six-cylinder engines are available in both diesel (30d) and petrol (40i) guises, with a more powerful M50d above them. Plug-in hybrid power returns during 2019, and we may also see a fully electric model in due course, possibly badged iX5.

Automatic transmissions and xDrive all-wheel drive is available across the range.

As for specifications, you can get xLine and the ubiquitous M Sport – both are generously equipped.

What is the BMW X5 M50d?

While an X5 M packing a version of the M5’s twin-turbo V8 is expected at some point, for now we have the X5 M50d as the range-topper. That is no bad thing.

The quad-turbo straight-six diesel is an absolute monster, packing 400hp and an incredible 760Nm of torque. As far as diesel pulling power goes, that’s as good as you’re going to get. Big SUVs are best suited to muscular diesels anyway, so the M50d could end up being the performance dark horse in the shadow of the forthcoming X5 M version when that arrives.

BMW X5 styling and engineering

The latest BMW X5 is based on the Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform that also underpins many of BMW’s larger models, from the 3 Series to the X7, with models such as the Z4 – and its Toyota GR Supra twin – in between.

Looks-wise, the X5 is nothing if not divisive, as are many new-generation BMWs. It’s all about that front end. The kidney grille has been prominent on the snouts of BMWs for some time, but the X7, 7 Series and latest X5 take it to the next level.

Otherwise, familiar BMW styling hallmarks are all present and correct. Bulbous arches and a boxy form help the new car retain that quintessential X5 character. Inside, it’s a modern derivative of the archetypal BMW cabin although, it’s not as commodious as a Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Is the BMW X5 good to drive?

The X-badged BMWs have never been the last bastion of BMW’s old ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ slogan, but have always put a strong foot forward.

This Mk4 X5 is no exception, putting its modern underpinnings to good use. All-wheel drive is always a welcome companion in dicey conditions and the rear-wheel steering tightens the X5’s lines at low speed. The X5 rides level but smooth and the engines pull well, especially that mighty M50d.

The days of these cars driving well ‘for an SUV’ are pretty much over.

How much does the BMW X5 cost?

While the X5 undercuts the Range Rover Sport on entry-level cost, rivals from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche typically undercut the BMW by a few thousand pounds. Although somewhat less prestigious marque, the VW Touareg can be as much as £10,000 cheaper.

That wouldn’t be an issue if the X5 was so much newer than its competition, but all-new versions of the GLE, Touareg and Cayenne are also fresh out of their respective manufacturers’ gates. All are worth considering.

Happily, the 435hp Audi SQ7 is much closer in price to the mighty X5 M50d. It’s also worth remembering that the X5 comes very well-specified as standard.

See how drivers of the BMW X5 rate their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

BMW X5 Model History

Third-generation BMW X5 (2013-18)

BMW X5 2013-2018

November 2013 – Third-generation X5 SUV introduced with a range of petrol and diesel engines in SE and M Sport specifications. More popular diesels start with the rear-wheel drive sDrive25d, with four-wheel drive standard on the xDrive25d, xDrive30d, xDrive40d and flagship M50d. The petrol choice is restricted to the xDrive50i. Five seats are standard with a third row available as an optional extra.
October 2014 – High-performance X5 M available to order for deliveries commencing in April 2015. Propulsion comes from a 575hp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, enough for a 4.2-second 0-62mph time.
August 2015 – Power for the sDrive25d and xDrive25d increased from 218hp to 231hp.
November 2015 – Plug-in hybrid xDrive40e derivatives launched, combining electrical power with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. SE and M Sport specifications available.
May 2016 – Improved iDrive multimedia system with more intuitive menus and greater connectivity to smartphone apps.

X5s don’t tend to be long-lived. The third-generation car (the F15 for BMW code fans) lasted five years, between 2013 and 2018.  It was loosely based on the model that it replaced, but also eventually offered a plug-in hybrid version, the xDrive40e.

M-powered models were also available, the line-up crowned by a derivative of the turbocharged V8 from the M5 making its way into the X5 M (that’s the F85).

Discover what drivers think of their third-generation X5s in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.

Second-generation BMW X5 (2007-13)

BMW X5 2007-2013

The Mk2 X5 saw the model mature significantly. By the time it arrived in 2007, the previous-generation X5 was beginning to look dated, with styling cues reaching all the way back to the mid-1990s 5 Series.

During its time on sale, the E70 X5 adopted BMW’s iDrive multimedia system as standard and switched to a revised naming strategy – 3.0d became xDrive30d, for example.

The second-generation X5 also saw the introduction of the first proper M-fettled BMW SUV. The 2010 X5 M (Mazda would have objected to it being called M X5) used a version of the twin-turbo V8 that would soon find its way into the M5 Saloon.

Discover what drivers think of their second-generation X5s in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.

First-generation BMW X5 (2000-07)

BMW X5 2000-2007

The first-generation X5 (the E53) was a revolutionary vehicle for the firm. Partly the fruit of BMW’s acquisition of Land Rover, the X5 was the first true SUV from a premium automaker not previously associated with the segment.

The Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 are all followed in its wake.

Styling-wise it owed much to the 5 Series and 3 Series of the era, but their handsome cues sat awkwardly on the X5’s bulky SUV body.

Still, big wheels and that blue and white propeller badge had major appeal and the X5 was a breakout success, causing Land Rover to pull its socks up for the release of the third-generation Range Rover in 2001.

Discover what drivers think of their first-generation X5s in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.