- Intuitive steering feel
- Ample power
- Responsive handling
- Plenty of useful space
- Conservative, even stale styling
- Tricky iDrive system
It doesn't pop with the styling or interior plushness of its competitors, but the 2012 BMW X5 has the powerful X5 M and frugal diesel up its sleeve.
A frontrunner in the luxury SUV segment, the 2012 BMW X5 continues to prove its value, moving forward for the new model year with minimal updates. Given its handsome styling, ample space for five passengers, and luxurious interior, that's a good thing.
Styled with BMW's brand aesthetics up front, but with a more masculine appeal than most of the range, the X5's chunky proportions meet with flowing lines to deliver a conservatively handsome look. Inside, the story is much the same, with a restrained style that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. A number of color and materials options allow customization for specific tastes.
While the X5 might largely fly under the styling radar, it shines in performance. Under the hood of the base model lies a twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder rated at 300 horsepower and 23 mpg highway. This base engine, dubbed xDrive35i in BMW terms, is available in three trim packages: base, Premium, and Sport Activity. More on those later.
A turbocharged diesel is available in the X5 xDrive35d model, good for 265 horsepower and 26 mpg highway, though it commands a slight premium in price over the standard gasoline model. The most potent standard X5 is the xDrive50i, powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine rated at 400 horsepower and 20 mpg highway but delivering thrilling acceleration, particularly for an SUV. A very highly tuned version of the same engine is available in the X5 M, rated at 555 horsepower and upgraded with a shockingly good suspension setup.
The X5 rides and handles more like a big sedan, even though it's considerably taller and bulkier. The X5 M is an oddity, but one we love: a track-ready sport-utility vehicle that makes no sense on paper and a lot of sense on a speedway. On most models, ride quality is better than expected.
The X5 is comfortable for up to five adults, though a tiny third-row seat with two more spaces for kids is available Cargo space is adequate, if not excessive.
The IIHS gives the X5 good crash-test ratings, but the NHTSA hasn't fully vetted it yet. All models come with all-wheel drive.
Among other features, BMW offers navigation, an iDrive infotainment interface, power front seats, keyless ignition, parking sensors, a rearview camera, and a USB port.