BMW X5 (2013-2018) Review
Enjoyable to drive, comfortable, luxurious and with the option of seven seats, the BMW X5 is a car with very broad-ranging talents
Strengths & weaknesses
When the very first version of the BMW X5 was launched back in 1999, it was largely responsible for creating the idea of a sporty large SUV focused on on-road performance rather than its ability to crawl through muddy lanes and over big rocks.
The third-generation model, built between 2013 and 2018 remains a seriously capable car, but it also faces many very capable rivals, such as the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes GLE, Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport.
This was the first X5 to be offered with an optional seven-seat layout, adding to the versatility and flexibility of the car for larger families. The vast majority of X5s of this era are four-wheel-drive, although there was a two-wheel-drive version that offered greater fuel efficiency, but it is rare.
The intelligently laid out interior feels beautifully built and suitably upmarket - a good thing for a car of this size and with such a prestigious badge on the nose. Combined with the commanding, high driving position that’s common to most large SUVs and a smooth, comfortable ride that’s not, the interior makes for a genuinely luxurious experience, whether you’re the driver or a passenger.
The extensive list of standard equipment features is easy to use thanks to the 'iDrive' rotary controller for the media system. This helps you to intuitively handle most of the car’s entertainment and information functions without distracting you from the business of driving - not always the case with touchscreen-only systems.
You’ll also find the interior well appointed for cupholders and other storage cubbies as well as it offering loads of room for passengers, whether sitting in the front or the rear - although the third-row seats in seven-seat models are best kept for children or adults if it’s a short journey.
The boot is very large, too - at up to 650 litres before you start folding the second row of seats flat - and the potential for a 3,500kg towing capacity makes the X5 an excellent option for those wanting to haul a bulky caravan, boat, horsebox or other types of large trailers.
Safety kit is equally impressive, with the X5 scoring a five-star Euro NCAP rating (the independent body that assesses the overall safety of a car), although it should be noted that seven-seat versions don’t offer airbag protection specifically for third-row seating, despite the significant number of airbags elsewhere. Mind you, with kit like adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, the X5 will do its best to ensure that you don’t end up in a collision in the first place.
There are five diesel engines to choose from, plus two petrol models and a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid xDrive40e joined the range in 2015, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, with a big enough battery to get you around 15 miles on electric power from a full battery, without the assistance of the conventional petrol engine.
This gives the car a claimed fuel economy figure of 83mpg, but in reality, how much you achieve will depend on how regularly you can charge it up, and how long your journeys are - without the assistance of the electric motor, your fuel economy will most likely be less than 30mpg. So, if you do lots of long journeys or don't think you'll charge it regularly, one of the other X5 engines may be a smarter choice.
More modern plug-in hybrids offer a greater electric range and are therefore much more flexible, so the best bet for the cost-conscious when it comes to an X5 is the broad selection of diesel engines. The most frugal in the range is the two-wheel-drive sDrive25d, whose 231hp four-cylinder engine can achieve up to 53.3mpg.
At the other end of the scale is the high-performance M50d, which has 381hp and can get from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, while still being able to officially deliver 42.8mpg. In reality, though, the sweet spot for most people will be the 258hp xDrive30d, which gives you up to 48mpg and 0-62mph in less than 7.0 seconds.
Petrol power comes in the form of the 449hp V8 xDrive50i and the even more powerful 575hp X5 M. Both are undoubtedly impressively fast but are only worth considering if you have deep pockets - they’re expensive to buy in the first place, and pretty thirsty when it comes to fuel.
Should I get a BMW X5?
✔ Efficient, powerful diesel engines
✔ Plenty of space inside
✔ Luxurious feel in the cabin
✘ Some rivals are more spacious
✘ Seven-seat version not standard
✘ Petrol models are heavy on fuel
Sporty, large luxury SUVs that can act as family transport, haul trailers out of a muddy field and be fun to drive at the same time are a rare thing. Yet the BMW X5 manages this. Especially the refined, powerful and economical diesel models.
True, the equivalent Porsche Cayenne is a little more fun to drive and the Land Rover Discovery is more versatile - and more capable off-road - but the BMW treads the line of family car, luxury off-roader and sporty car like no other.
More modern plug-in hybrids are much more efficient, so the xDrive40e perhaps isn’t the best bet unless you’re doing lots of short hops only and will charge the batteries regularly, while the X5 M is frankly a little too powerful for something so large and heavy, but the mainstream choices in the X5 range are almost beyond reproach.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Plug-in hybrid
- Best BMW X5 for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
BuyaCar prices Limited stock
As a big, sporty-feeling SUV with a large dollop of luxury thrown in, the X5 impresses. It has a cracking range of powerful, economical diesel engines, a choice of five-seat and seven-seat versions, and the ability to feel more fun to drive than any large SUV with the exception of the Porsche Cayenne.
BMW X5 plug-in hybrid
This era of X5 was the first to get a plug-in hybrid version and, unlike the one that replaced it, uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine instead of a 3.0-litre six-cylinder motor. This makes it swift rather than properly fast, while the small 9kWh battery pack only gives the electric motor enough juice for 15 miles or so from a full charge before the petrol engine cuts in to help out.
It’s not that the xDrive40e is bad by any means, it’s just at this point in the engineering evolution of the X5 range, it’s a model that’s still yet to reach the economy and flexibility level achieved by the later plug-in hybrid X5s.
BMW X5 M
The X5 M gets a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, with 575hp, so it’s hardly short on power. In fact it’s capable of going from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and on to an electronically limited 155mph. Not bad for a 2.5-tonne SUV.
It holds onto the road equally impressively, with cornering capabilities that put some theoretically more sporty cars to shame. It’s no Porsche Cayenne, though, feeling much more brutish and clinical than the more delicate Porsche.
It’s also uncomfortably firm in suspension terms, especially for passengers, so if you regularly put occupants in the rear seats, be prepared for them to complain about being bounced around.
|SE||Limited stock: SE is the most affordable spec, but it doesn’t skimp on equipment, with 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth streaming and phone connectivity, cruise control, built-in sat-nav, and leather upholstery. The plug-in hybrid SE cars also get adaptive suspension for greater comfort.|
|M Sport||From £24,000: With the M Sport model comes 19-inch alloy wheels, a sporty-looking body kit, adaptive suspension and smarter interior trimmings, as well as a smattering of ‘M’ badges.|
Despite the falling-out-of-favour of diesels since 2015, they have remained popular in big, chunky SUVs. And for good reason - they provide relaxed, effortless performance, plenty of pulling power and impressive fuel economy.
And that’s certainly true in the case of the M50d. Its 3.0-litre diesel has three turbochargers, making it good for a hefty 381hp power output. And that’s enough for it to be able to sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds. On the flipside, that diesel fuel-efficiency means its capable of 42.8mpg.
M50d models aren't the cheapest, though, so if you're on a tighter budget, the xDrive 30d is more than powerful enough for most drivers and notably more efficient, too, making it a wiser choice.
The plug-in hybrid option in the BMW X5 of this era - the first BMW X5 plug-in hybrid - combines a 113hp electric motor with a 245hp four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine for a total power output of 313hp (the power output isn't just the maximum power of both sources added together, as they produce their maximum power at different stages).
That’s reasonably impressive, but it does weigh a significant 235kg more than the 258hp xDrive30d, so performance is more or less the same.
Charge its batteries to their full capacity and it can manage up to 19 miles on electric power, and if your driving patterns can make the most of this then the 45e can theoretically achieve up to 83mpg. Fail to charge, however, and you can expect the xDrive40e to be inefficient - as it has to lug the extra weight of the batteries and motor around with little electric assistance.
There’s a broad range of diesel choices with the X5, from the fuel-efficient 25d to the powerful M50d, though your petrol options are a little more limited - and more expensive to both buy and run. Whatever you're after, therefore, there should be an X5 to suit.
|BMW X5 xDrive40e SE: The petrol-electric version of the X5 can theoretically achieve 83mpg, as long as the type of trips you make get the most out of the car’s 19-mile electric range. If you do lots of long trips or won't charge regularly, the xDrive25d diesel will be a better bet.|
|BMW X5 sDrive25d SE: All X5s are a good bet for families, given the car's good amount of space for both passengers and luggage. The two-wheel-drive 25d SE model, meanwhile, is both the cheapest to buy and offers the lowest overall running costs if you have nowhere to regularly charge the plug-in hybrid model.|
|BMW X5 M50d: A power output of 381hp, courtesy of three turbochargers, gives the fastest diesel-powered X5 an effortless surge of power to ride along on, yet the car can also achieve a respectable fuel economy figure of 42.8mpg.|
|BMW X5 xDrive 50i: While the idea of a 449hp twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine will no doubt appeal for its engine sound and performance, the sub-30mpg fuel economy will not. And it doesn’t feel any faster than the diesel-powered M50d, either.|
Key rivals for the BMW X5, perhaps a little predictably, are large luxurious SUVs from Audi and Mercedes. Earlier versions of this X5 will be comparable with a much older design of the Audi Q7, but from 2015 onwards the Audi Q7 was redesigned with a more contemporary interior and exterior, and more engine options, including an efficient diesel plug-in hybrid.
The Mercedes alternative to the X5 is the GLE (though before 2015 it was known as the M-Class). It’s not as sporty as the X5 and there’s no seven-seat option, but you get a wide variety of engine options, including a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.
Another significant competitor for the X5 is the luxurious, spacious and elegantly styled Volvo XC90. This gets seven seats and feels more relaxed to drive than the BMW, but its engine options are more limited than you’ll find with the X5, though the T8 plug-in hybrid, with its turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine combined with an electric motor, is a very impressive machine.
The faster, sportier X5s also face competition from the Porsche Cayenne, which, typically for a Porsche is, if anything, an even more sporty-feeling car than the BMW.
BMW X5 practicality: dimensions and boot space
There’s no doubt that the BMW X5 is a big car. It’s 4,886mm long, 1,938mm wide (2,184mm if you count the door mirrors) and 1,763mm tall. However, this does make it shorter than key rivals, the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7. In fact, the only rival that’s shorter than the BMW X5 is the Mercedes GLE, which comes in at 4,819mm long.
The Mercedes doesn’t offer the option of a seven-seat version, however, so the X5 is the most compact car in its class if you want seven seats. That said, the compromise is that space in those rearmost seats is tight for this class of car.
|Length 4,886mm||Width 1,938mm|
|Height 1,763mm||Weight 2,035kg - 2,330kg|
The split tailgate, where the glass part lifts like a normal hatch, and the bottom half opens downwards is a useful bit of extra flexibility, allowing you to easily slide long or heavy items into the boot, or to use it as a temporary perch to sit on.
There’s 650 litres of space overall, rising to 1,870 litres with the rear seats folded down - meaning plenty of space for pretty much any load. Plug-in hybrid versions lose a little luggage space, however, giving you just 500 litres and 1,720 litres of room respectively. This is because of the space needed for the battery pack and also means the X5 plug-in hybrid isn’t available as a seven-seater.
|Seats up 500 - 650 litres||Seats down 1,720 - 1,870 litres|
In 2017, the last full model year for this version of the BMW X5, BMW as a manufacturer finished in a reasonable ninth place out of 27 manufacturers featured in that year’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
The brand also came in ninth overall specifically for reliability. That’s better than more recent performances in the Driver Power survey for BMW - in 2020 for example it came 27th out of 30 brands surveyed.
Either way, all examples of this version of the BMW X5 are all now out of their original manufacturer warranty period, although buying via a BMW retailer will mean you get BMW’s 12-month unlimited mileage Approved Used warranty.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
The BMW X5 isn’t exactly a bargain-basement buy, even as a used car. But if you want a luxurious, refined and sporty large SUV, it’s a great choice. And because it’s such an in-demand model, it holds on to its value well, too. This means relatively low PCP finance monthly payments and that cash buyers should get more money back when they come to sell.
The six-cylinder diesel 30d model makes the most sense as it balances powerful, refined performance with excellent fuel economy. The four-cylinder 25d models are slightly more fuel efficient, though, so if it’s ultimate fuel economy you’re after the two-wheel-drive sDrive25d will be the one to go for.
In terms of trim, the M Sport is the more desirable spec so, while it may cost a little more in terms of outright purchase price, its extra desirability may make it a better financial bet in the long run as these versions hold their value better than SE-spec cars. There’s also more choice if you’re after a used BMW X5 in M Sport trim, as it was the more popular option when new in terms of sales.
The practical, fuel-efficient and powerful xDrive30d will provide the best balance of luxurious performance and fuel efficiency for most drivers, but if you want a little more performance, then the M50d, with its hefty 381hp power output, is excellent and still capable of fuel economy in excess of 40mpg.
If you don’t fancy a diesel then the V8-powered 50i petrol or high-performance X5 M are a possibility, but they are rare, expensive and very thirsty on fuel.
The plug-in hybrid is worth considering if you can make the most of its short electric range, but if you do regular long journeys or won't charge it regularly then the frugal diesel models are a better bet.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.