This is a great vehicle, as well as my first BMW. If you learn how to drive the X5 properly you can achieve the MPG figures, and even exceed them, the vehicle has done surprisingly well on gas mileage. The car has been totally reliable and it's performance has been very impressive, it really does handle like a BMW sports sedan, not a big SUV. It is comfortable and feels very solid and secure, even at very high freeway speeds, and it's practicality and space are very much appreciated on a daily basis. I have the M performance and sport packages and they really do make the vehicle look and feel amazing! I would recommend the X5 to anyone looking for a great luxury SUV.
xDrive35i Sport Activity 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A)
We wanted to buy a new one in 2010, but they were just a little too high for anything but a diesel, and we were wary of diesel price swings, the different character of that engine, and being able to pull into a pump anywhere at a busy station back when diesel was less common. Years later, we found that many diesel versions had reliability issues. But in terms of all-around ability (ride, handling, acceleration, comfort, utility, towing ability, looks) it was still our favorite 6 years later. It handles fantastic for such a large heavy vehicle. You can feel the weight but the huge tires grip like crazy. The SAV version is definitely the one to get, it looks great, and gives a feeling of confidence in turns and at speed that most others just do not. Utility is good, not great, with over 70 cu ft of cargo area with seats down. They don't fold flat, which is disappointing (we have dogs), but there is plenty of room for a road trip with 4 dogs, 2 people, and luggage. A family of four would do ok. It can also tow a fairly heavy trailer, but I installed my own hitch and wiring as the BMW version is outrageously expensive. Took 2 hours, so there's no valid reason for their exorbitant labor charges, as they should be able to do it in half the time. Ride is firm but not harsh, though big bumps will be felt. It is a better ride than our Volvo S60 R design sport sedan, but those seeking a luxury smooth ride should look elsewhere. It is surprisingly quiet for a vehicle like this. Seat comfort is better for the thin shouldered, as the bolsters do press a little on my broad back at the lats. The thigh extension is a must-have. Xenons make visibilty good at night, and there are no blind spots to worry about. Throttle tip in is actually slower than it should be, you have to punch it to get power in regular transmission mode. It doesn't seem to be turbo lag (max torque comes in at just 1250 rpm) but a throttle tip in issue. Acceleration is good, not breathtaking, but more than enough for regular driving, especially at speed. Handling is very confidence inspiring and curvy mountain roads won't raise the hairs on your back like in most crossovers or SUVs. Not too far from a sport sedan and better than most mundane sedans. Very handsome vehicle, materials are good, and our 3 year old example looked practically new. Many others we looked at didn't fare so well. We paid $37,000 for one with 34K miles and it still has one year of bumper to bumper and 2 more years of CPO coverage. With taxes and the hitch we have $39K in it. It stickered for about $69,000 so that's a nice savings. It had an airbag recall that was fixed before we got it but otherwise the history was clean. There was no spare on this one which is unfortunate, but those temp spares are so limited in range and speed that it wasn't of much use anyway on long trips. The interior design is handsome but not beautiful. Ergonomics are typical BMW, with a learning curve for some functions like cruise and the computer. The NAV is useful but like most, not always great. The iDrive controller is fairly easy to use now and fairly logical, though one can still get screens not doing what you want when choosing the split screen or wanting to display your songs when you are also navigating, etc. Tons of brake dust, like all BMWs. But a very solid feeling vehicle and great build quality. Conceptually this is the closest to a "does it all" vehicle that one can find. Sporty, good looking(in SAV trim), good handling, quiet, reasonable ride quality, safe, spacious, and reasonable comfort. My only fix would be to add the luxury comfort seat option, as the sport seats are supportive but a little firm compared to our Volvos. But anything will be less comfortable than Volvo seats. Only those who value solid handling and sporty aspirations should bother paying the price, as there are plenty of bigger or more cushy rides available for less. We just want the confidence it gives at high speed and the active safety of great handling and braking for the class.
UPDATE: Steering is actually over-heavy, in parking situations the wide tires and heavy steering actually make your arms ache while backing a trailer. It "feels" as heavy as it is, and so unless you need the extra space, the X3 is probably a better choice for driving enthusiasts, but really a wagon would be best of all. Unfortunately they make only the 3 series wagon and I find its seats too narrow. The X5 seats are wide. It's very solid at speed, but not nimble.
The engine of the X5 with ~4000 miles died while on the highway. When I pulled over the car smelled like a burning electrical fire. I called BMW/Assist - Wow the worst service over. It took numerous call, two tow trucks, and 4.5 hours to get home.
You will get A+ service from GM/OnStar or Ford MySync, or AAA. BMW roadside was a joke. They screwed up just about every aspect of my SOS call.
Stay away from BMW Assist. You will not be happy at all. Free for 4 years means nothing if they can't help.
xDrive35i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A)
Disappointed in run flat tires which give rough ride and are very expensive to replace! No oil dipstick and worst of all, no coolant temp gauge. Dealer is great but car is overpriced and under delivers on performance and value versus the 10 previous BMWs I have owned over the last 40 yrs!