The BMW X5 was this German automaker's first entry into the luxury SUV segment. Realizing that most SUV buyers rarely, if ever, venture off-road, BMW designed the X5 for on-road performance and handling. Short overhangs, a compact size (the original was 4.5 inches shorter than the 5 Series sedan of the same time period) and a car-based chassis combined to give the X5 its low stance and superb on-road performance. The X5, produced at BMW's first American plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, quickly became a huge hit for BMW in the U.S.
The first-generation BMW X5 only sat five people, however, and this is something that the company addressed with the current model. Redesigned for the 2007 model year, the second-generation X5 looks very similar to its predecessor, but is larger than before. It now features an optional third-row seat and room for seven, along with more cargo capacity. Despite this growth, the X5 is still very entertaining to drive as luxury SUVs go. If this appeals to you, the BMW X5 is a fine choice, new or used.
Current BMW X5
The BMW X5 comes in three variants: X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive50i and X5 xDrive35d. The term "xDrive" refers to the standard all-wheel-drive system that enhances the X5's all-weather capability. The 35i features a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The 50i gets a twin-turbo V8 good for 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Both "i" models get a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The X5 xDrive35d features a fuel-efficient turbodiesel inline-6 that produces 265 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard.
The X5 offers a fair amount of utility thanks to its all-wheel drive and optional third-row seat. It's also quite sporty, and injects an ample amount of Bavarian handling chutzpah into the ridin'-high body of a family-friendly SUV. Although several luxury automakers have taken aim at the X5's sporting formula, this BMW remains very attractive for those who want the "S" in SUV to actually mean something.
Our editors have found the interior furnishings quite handsome in BMW's biggest and newest SUV, with comfortable seating for the driver and rear passengers. The materials are of excellent quality and the craftsmanship is top-notch. Even the once-hated iDrive system is now one of the better electronics interfaces on the market. Only heavy steering at low speeds and a hefty price are sour notes, along with the small size of the third-row seat, which makes it impractical for use by adults.
Used BMW X5 Models
The present-generation BMW X5 was introduced for the 2007 model year. It is bigger, more luxurious and smoother riding than its predecessor. At its debut, this X5 was available as the 3.0si (260-hp 3.0-liter inline-6) and the 4.8i (350-hp 4.8-liter V8). Both featured six-speed automatics. These models were renamed xDrive30i and xDrive48i for '09. The xDrive35d arrived for that year as well. BMW updated the iDrive interface for 2010. The current turbocharged gasoline engines did not arrive until 2011.
The original, first-generation BMW X5 was produced from 2000-'06. It was initially offered with one engine only: a 4.4-liter V8 engine. A 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine debuted the following year. Though the six-cylinder offered superior fuel economy and adequate overall performance, it was often criticized for its lack of off-the-line grunt. The 4.4i reached 60 mph in fewer than 8 seconds. One note to buyers looking at a first-year BMW X5: All X5 models manufactured after June 2000 (starting with the '01 model year) benefited from important structural changes that improved occupant protection in frontal crashes.
In 2002, the high-performance BMW X5 4.6is debuted, boasting a 4.6-liter V8 making 340 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque. The midlevel X5 4.4i saw an 8 horsepower increase to 290 for the year. Towing aficionados welcomed a new version of the stability control system that aided trailer towing, and BMW finally made a CD player standard in its luxury SUV.
In 2004, the X5 received its most extensive refreshening. A new front fascia received BMW's signature corona ringed headlamps, optional adaptive headlights and new foglamps. The year also marked the introduction of BMW's new all-wheel-drive system, xDrive. Compared to the previous setup, xDrive was far more capable, with its ability to transfer 100 percent of the engine's torque to one individual wheel. (The old system could only distribute torque front to rear.)
Also noteworthy for 2004 was the replacement of the high-performance X5 4.6is with the 355-hp 4.8is model. BMW also installed the V8 engine from the '02 7 Series sedan in the midlevel X5 4.4i, which raised output by 35 horses to 325 hp.
In reviews, we typically praised the first-generation BMW X5 for its carlike ride and handling, its wide range of engine choices and its top safety scores and equipment. Oft-noted downsides included its lack of off-road ability and small cargo area.
Read the most recent 2014 BMW X5 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used BMW X5 page.