2003 BMW X5 Review
Pros & Cons
- Rides and drives like a BMW sedan, wide range of engine choices, top safety scores, high-end cabin furnishings.
- Limited off-road abilities, less interior volume than a 5 Series wagon, price goes up quickly with options, lousy fuel economy in the city.
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Edmunds' Expert Review
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Most helpful consumer reviews
4.6is AWD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 5A)
Took a chance buying a used 2003 X5 4.6 with about 80,000 miles. Have put about 25,000 miles on it so far. Not a long distance commuter car, although I have been using it as my daily driver for the last 3 years. Best as a hot rod Sunday driver or on short drives to the lake towing 2 wave runners or a boat. Poor stock radio. You'll want to replace the radio 'head unit' so factor $500 to $1,000 for that if you DIY. Very nice seats. Fit and finish of interior for 2003 exceptional. Ride too harsh for most people (mainly due to the big 20" wheels and low profile tires of the 4.6is). One thing critics overlook is that this machine was built to tow 6,000 pounds, so it can do much more than drive around looking cool. Lots of torque and power. Quick 0-60. Snaps your head back, no problem. More than you will ever use. Could you take this car to 300K? Maybe, if you are gentle. I've heard the weak spot is the transmission. Don't abuse it and you might be okay. It's really a 2nd car for carving back roads on sunny days. I wouldn't beat it up commuting. There are better cars for that job. Oh... did I mention this car can corner? You can definitely take this car to the track if you like. It can hang some serious turns. It's like two different cars. Around town it's a bit bumpy and overkill. But in the canyons it drives like a race car. Update 06/11/2019... Still have the car and it's still doing well. If you want to keep one of these long term there are a few maintenance items you will need to address. You can perform these fixes yourself if you have time and inclination; timing chain guides, valley pan, vanos, driveshaft spline. You can Google them and see what is involved. Also possibly gasket behind the water cooled alternator housing. Or, look for a car that's had some or all of these things done already. Not all of them need to be done right away. Just depends on the mileage and how the car was driven. There is also a cold weather oil separator issue fix but those in moderate climates don't need it.
4.4i AWD 4dr SUV (4.4L 8cyl 5A)
I have owned trucks and SUVs all my life and I have yet to own one that is as much fun to drive as the X5. You pass other drivers like they're in reverse and it corners and brakes like a BMW should. It's one of the best looking vehicles on the road and no matter how hard you push it, it wants more. However, every other month another sensor or display light would go off or hose will leak or seal break and I'd get hit with another $500 bill (at a minimum) to fix something that just shouldn't go wrong (door locks, airbag light, etc.). It was always something. If you have the patience and another vehicle to rely on, it's a great car. If it's your only car, check your roadside assistance.
3.0i AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 5M)
I love this car. Period. Is it perfect? Nope, but here is why. We bought it used with 82K and we are at 207K now on the original clutch. Weave had it 8 years now and have grown very attached to it. We were hit solidly from behind with our two boys in the back seat, the car that hit was totaled and we drove home. It has been fantastic in the snow and on the rare occasion that chains are required, it felt unstoppable in a blizzard in about a foot of snow. It is solid on the road and we have even taken it up into the mountains. It is not an off road vehicle, but it can handle its own in rough roads. The seats are extraordinarily comfortable for long trips and the back seats are great for our boys with enough room for a couple of backpacks for toys. It has been very very reliable and we have done a little bit here and there, things that come with cars, brakes, compressor, tires etc. but nothing extraordinary. They do burn oil at higher mileage so you want to watch for that. We chose the 3.0L engine because it is bulletproof and would not get anything larger. It is not necessary and fuel economy suffers. The only downside is it feels like it needs a 6th gear. We keep a log book of all our fill ups and we get 20-21 on average combined and 23 freeway. The back does not pack a lot of room for gear, but most people take too much and on big trips we throw a case on top. This is a fine vehicle and we have loved it and would buy it new again if we could. Update: We finally gave this vehicle to a friend who was turning 16, so its' future is uncertain. On a positive note, we found a 2006 6-speed manual with 60K miles on it to replace it. Literally ran out the door to go buy it. We have had such a great experience with these cars. One point, get the 6 cylinder engine 3.0 not the bigger 4.0 or 4.4. We just went through our first major snow storm and the car drove like we have come to expect.
3.0i AWD 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 5M)
Bought used with 20,000 Miles, Loved appearance inside and out. Immediately noted the AM/FM reception in Northern Minnesota was the worst of my experience with over 30 vehicles. Dealer denied there was a problem in 3 visits. Finally told me "95% of owners don't listen to AM anyways". Communications with corporate BMW were very poor. The person in NJ was experienced at deflecting complaints, but knew little about cars. Twice had engine problems under warranty where car blew black smoke out of exhaust. Now at 95,000 the dash displays are missing some digits and the fix is too expensive. One Key Fob is dead and you can't fix yourself, wheels are corroded, dealer experience has been poor.