After we put the redesigned BMW X5 through our test program, there was no debate: it’s among the best SUVs we’ve tested. It is a luxurious, slick, and well-rounded vehicle. With each new generation, the X5 has become more refined and comfortable, but less of a crisp-handling SUV. We think this redesign optimally balances comfort, agility, power delivery, and interior quality.
This fourth-generation X5 comes standard with five seats, although a small third-row seat is available as an option.
The X5 is powerful and efficient, which is a rare combination. The six-cylinder engine has instantaneous response without a hint of the hesitation that’s so common from turbo lag, when the turbo needs to spool up to make power. As a result, 0-60 mph acceleration is thrilling at just 6 seconds. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Plus, the X5’s 23 mpg overall is the best among its gasoline-only peers.
The driving experience is exemplary because the X5 feels like a true luxury car, and its balanced suspension delivers a composed ride with handling that gives drivers confidence. It doesn’t soak up bumps and ruts so much as it glides over them. Braking performance is excellent.
The X5’s cabin is whisper-quiet, further imparting a feeling of luxury. It is richly trimmed in leather, wood, chrome, and very high-quality plastics. Every touch point is pleasing and well-padded. The optional door and center armrest heaters in our X5 made cold mornings that much more bearable. There are also plenty of storage spaces.
The thronelike front seats are supportive and provide a wide variety of adjustments, which makes them perfect for all-day drives. But the rear seat cushion is low and without much thigh support, which forces passengers to sit with their knees in the air.
The infotainment system is quick to respond and works seamlessly with paired phones. However, there is a steep learning curve to figure out the system, with its layered menu structure and busy control layout. For instance, resetting the trip odometer is now buried in a menu. BMW has added gesture control, which is meant to let the driver make volume adjustments, or accept/reject calls with a wave of the hand. It’s a nice way to impress friends but we’ve found that the system can be confused by unintended movements.
We are particularly fond of the optional head-up display, which is incredibly clear. It’s easy to use and integrated into the infotainment system, showing displays for phone, navigation and audio.
Open the two-piece tailgate and there’s a nicely finished cargo area. The large top door swings up, and the small bottom gate drops down to ease loading. One button conveniently power-closes both.
BMW includes a variety of standard safety and driver-assistance features, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and active blind spot warning, which will actually steer the vehicle away from a nearby car.