2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i: What's It Like to Live With?

Something for Everyone? Testing the 2020 BMW X5 for Everyday Life at 3,200 miles (and counting)

BMW X5 2020
Miles DrivenAverage MPG

Why Should You Care (updated 9/28/20)

  • In-cabin technology is class-leading.
  • Family-friendly with a focus on comfort and space.
  • Performance is not an afterthought with a turbocharged V6 and two V8 engine options.
  • Additional options and safety features can be added to lower trims, but pile onto an already big price tag.
  • A big and heavy luxury SUV with a bumpier-than-expected ride.

What We Bought and Why

by Jodi Tourkow, Senior Director, Written Content

Our test vehicle: 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i
Base MSRP: $61,200 (not including $995 destination)
MSRP as tested: $83,420

The BMW X5 is already known for its refined handling, lush interior and strong engine performance. So, it's easy to see why it's one of the front-runners in the midsize luxury SUV race, where it goes toe to toe with Audi's Q7 and Mercedes' GLE.

This tech-packed powerhouse draws on both luxury and performance for its appeal. The X5 is definitely family-friendly in terms of comfort and space. But it can be sporty, too, offering three engine options: a base turbocharged six-cylinder and two versions of a turbocharged V8 with upwards of 523 horsepower. Plus, it has gadgets to boot.

Can the X5 be practical for a family and be fun to drive? We wanted to find out.

What did we get?
We were outfitted with the 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i (minus the optional third-row seating) in Ametrin Metallic (or plum) with ivory Merino leather. (We may be questioning this choice later.) Both colors increased the price by $4,400.

The xDrive40i trim is sandwiched between the base sDrive40i and the more powerful xDrive50. It's powered by a 335-hp turbocharged V6 engine. The M50i, which was added this year, rounds out the available trims with a 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8.

We anticipate the xDrive40i trim will be the most popular among shoppers given the features that come with the price tag. So, you can expect to find the standard amenities BMW is known for, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, 16-way power heated front seats with lumbar support, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a hi-fi sound system, adaptive LED headlights and front, side- and rearview cameras.

You also will find a boatload of safety features, such as Park Distance Control (PDC). PDC warns you of the distance between your car and another object to help you avoid a fender bender while parking. The X5 xDrive40i also includes active blind-spot detection and lane departure warning, which alerts you when your car is veering out of a lane.

Additionally, all-wheel drive comes standard on this trim. And, for $350, you can equip your model with heated rear seats, an upgrade we think is worth the spend.

We decided to up the game even further by adding 21-inch wheels, the Driving Assistance Professional and the Off-road and Executive package options for an additional $12,800 — not for pomp and circumstance, but to test if the added features are worth it.

And, boy, are there features.

The BMW's Executive package alone provides heating and cooling cupholders, remote engine start, wireless phone charging, surround- and 3D-view cameras, gesture-controlled functionality (yes, you can literally wave your hand to adjust the radio volume) and more.

Meanwhile, the Driving Assistance Professional adds stop-and-go cruise control, automatic lane changing and assisted driving, which means the SUV will do some driving for you. The lane-changing assistant can support you on multi-lane roads by automatically carrying out steering wheel movements to position the X5 into a destination lane.

Still, even with all of these upgrades, we were not able to add ventilated seats. More on that later.

Why did we get it?
The 2020 X5 ranks third in Edmunds' midsize luxury SUV segment and also takes the third spot in U.S. sales in its class. However, that didn't make it a shoo-in on our long-term vehicle fleet.

Upon first glance, the X5 appears to be going through an identity crisis (well, at least to this vehicle novice). Is this BMW a family-friendly SUV that provides ample comfort and space for hauling children around town? Or is the X5 a performance-backed machine that offers suitable horsepower, nifty gadgets and performance readings for those looking for some oomph while driving on the weekend?

So, we thought a long-term evaluation could help determine if the X5 could be both.

We'll continue to investigate over the next year. Follow our thoughts here on how the BMW X5 xDrive40i performs in key categories.

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i: Real-World Fuel Economy

After about two months and over 3200 miles driven, our overall hovers around 19 mpg, which falls far short of the EPA-estimated 22 mpg.

Normally, I wouldn't balk at these results given the size of the X5 and the usual traffic we are up against in Los Angeles. But the pandemic and countywide shutdown in August 2020 have made traffic a thing of the past, even for a brief moment. A standard hourlong drive is currently a breezy 20 minutes, and I am actually able to hit or go slightly above the speed limit on SoCal freeways. So I expected more during this initial test period.

Average lifetime mpg: 19.0
EPA mpg rating: 22 combined (20 city / 26 highway)
Best fill mpg: 22.5
Best range (miles):: 400.2
Current odometer: 3,208

2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i: Maintenance

So far, so good; no major issues or malfunctions have arisen. However, there have been a few recalls since late last year:

Recalls performed on this vehicle

• Extra bolt incorrectly attached to starter motor

See all recalls on the 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i

2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i: How does it drive

I was skeptical at first. To me, the X5 is big; I am not. I immediately thought I did not need this much SUV. So I was expecting to have a somewhat difficult time maneuvering the X5. However, it doesn't drive like what I thought would feel "big." Its six-cylinder turbo engine is responsive enough for casual driving or a daily commute. And it can be sporty when it needs to be, easily zipping through traffic on the freeway.

How does it handle?

The heart of the BMW X5 is its tried-and-true handling. It seems to tackle some sharp turns reliably and feels balanced on the road. Yet, at times, it can feel heavy. I found myself fighting the weight (the X5 is around 5,000 pounds) when I stepped on the gas and just wanted to "go." However, once on the open road, the X5 moves, so much so that I found myself easily picking up speed without noticing.

Director of Written Content Brent Romans shares a somewhat similar sentiment. He, too, noticed that the X5 feels like a big and heavy luxury SUV.

"It's more of a kick-back, go-in-a-straight-line kind of SUV," he says. "Yeah, there's a solid grip from the tires if you really want to push it, and it's fairly stable if you engage the Sport driving mode. But that's about it. ... There's no enjoyment to be had from our X5's steering and handling."

The steering also has received mixed results with some of my colleagues stating it can feel overly soft and floaty when driving around turns unless you engage Sport mode, one of several driving modes.

2020 BMW X5: What to know about BMW's comfort and interior

One of the BMW X5's greatest strengths is that it exceeds in seat comfort compared to other midsize SUVs. Both the front and second rows are plush and supportive. You can tell the interior is not cheaply made. The Merino leather is soft, and the seats conform to your body. However, ride quality has been debatable by some. Read on to see the pros and cons.

The inside of the BMW X5

The 16-way adjustable power front seats make it easy to find the right adjustment for you. At barely 5-foot-2, I usually have a hard time finding the ideal seat-to-wheel-to-dash ratio. But I was able to adjust both the driver and front passenger seats to allow my small frame to sit comfortably while maintaining a higher seat position to see over the front dash easily.

Plus, the X5 driver's seat adjusts high enough that the visor blocks the sun from my eyes. Since I wear corrective lenses when I drive, it is always difficult to find a seat that goes high enough or a vehicle visor that comes down low enough to block the sun from my view while driving.

Heated front seats come standard on xDrive40i, and there is a $350 upgrade option to add heat to the rear seats. However, I was greatly disappointed to discover that ventilated seats are not an option on any 2020 BMW X5 trims. For those who live in tropical climates, I'm sure you can relate to my dismay. Thankfully, the four-zone climate control system produces a considerable amount of air and cools off the SUV rather quickly.

Additionally, there is ample legroom for even the tallest passengers in the second row. We did not drive the X5 with the third-row seating option, so can't confirm leg space for a sixth and seventh passenger.

Bumps and dirt along the way

Our X5's ride quality is a little bumpier than I expected, says Director of Written Content Brent Romans.

"Now, it's a BMW, so maybe one would be inclined to chalk it up to sportiness. But really, this thing's handling is not engaging enough as justification," he says. "To be clear, the bumpiness is far from being uncomfortable. It might also just be a product of our specific test SUV rather than all X5s. We've got the fairly large 21-inch wheels with performance tires plus the air suspension as part of the off-road package. Either or both of these could be affecting the ride."

And, remember when I said we may be rethinking the lush ivory Merino leather seats? Well, Brent and his family, who drove the X5 from Fresno, California, to Los Angeles, can attest that they look not-so-great when dirty.

"As a father of two young children, that's pretty much right away. Sticky fingerprint smudges, blue jean marks and coffee stains can all be on prime display," he says. "What, you think I'm giving my kids coffee? Don't be ridiculous. I never let them drink it in the car."

But, we think the ambient nighttime lighting in the X5 made up for the seats. "It is distinctly classy," notes Brent. "There are white and blue accent LED stripes along the dash, doors and center console plus blue illumination in the footwells."

Wait, there's more! Our X5 has the optional Panoramic Sky Lounge sunroof.

"Open it up at night and it's got hundreds of blue LED lights that kind of look like stars," Brent adds. "Driving our X5 at night makes me feel like I'm at a chic nighttime club where everybody is beautiful and the martinis cost $25 each."

2020 BMW X5: Technology

Our BMW X5 is loaded with features and gadgets, many of which came with our Executive package add-on.

Entertainment and navigation


The 12.3-inch touchscreen display is the star and highlights BMW's iDrive in-car communications and entertainment system. There is a lot you can see and control via iDrive, including real-time traffic, daily news, driving modes, fuel management and navigation. Navigation coupled with the BMW's voice command is some of the best and easiest to use out there.

And for the car geek in all of us, you can monitor the X5's performance through various display options on the touchscreen. Some of these features are not immediately intuitive but there are "help" options and menus to guide you.

You can also use the hand gesture controls to change stations and adjust the volume, among other tasks. However, the gesture control option seems more gimmicky than useful. Hand placement has to be just right for the gestures to consistently work. I suggest staying old-school; stick with the touchscreen controls or the ones on the center console or steering wheel mount.

Additional standard highlights include Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, but Android Auto isn't available. There are also four accessible USB charge points and small display screen mounting options behind the two front seats — ideal to keep the kids occupied during longer drives.