- Warm cabin trims
- New Traffic Jam Assistant
- Emphasis on handling, driving dynamics
- Lighter, faster, more fuel-efficient
- Winning turbodiesel drivetrain
- Overwrought front-end look
- Still a very small third row
- Can get very pricey with options
The 2015 BMW X5 is a handsome, capable, tech-filled vehicle for the shopper who wants a luxury SUV.
The 2015 BMW X5 continues to be a benchmark for any automaker contemplating a new luxury mid-size SUV. The X5's off-road-ability is outweighed by its superb on-road manners, but that's on purpose--it's a luxury family wagon tailored for comfort, meant for gated communities everywhere.
With no dramatic styling changes this generation, the X5 impresses drivers more with a handsomely reworked cabin. Outside, the sculpting on its body is more graceful, with a clear link to the smaller X3 in its tapering roof and low beltline. It's a sport wagon in spirit, if not in footprint. Inside, the sweep of BMW's latest designs transforms the cabin into a better workspace, with base synthetic leather giving way to rich combinations of mocha and ash and aluminum.
In the same niche as the Benz GLE and VW Touareg, the X5 touches all the right powertrain bases. The base twin-turbo 6-cylinder drops 300 hp and 6.2-second 0-60 mph times. A diesel edition with gutsy low-end torque adds a second but also adds many miles per gallon to the EPA ratings. A rorty twin-turbo V-8 drops acceleration times to below 5 seconds with a muted roar. All models sport an 8-speed automatic and most have variable-torque-split all-wheel drive, some with a torque-vectoring rear axle for crisper handling.
Electric power steering, adaptive dampers, and intelligent throttle and transmission programming gives the X5 a huge range in personality. In Eco Pro mode, the upshifts come more quickly and the steering uses less assist. The dampers go to creamy in Comfort mode, while Sport and Sport+ tweak everything for quick, hefty responses. Steering feedback is a notable low point, and an active anti-roll system leaves the driver with conflicting signals as to how much grip is available.
With seating for up to 7 people, the X5 is best hauling four adults. The front seats can feel flat, especially with ventilation, but sport seats and multi-contour seat can be fitted. There's ample head and leg room in the second row; some models can slide the second-row seat on a 3.1-inch track, and the seats split and fold along 40/20/40 sections. Despite an easy-entry function, the third-row optional seat is Oompa-Loompa sized, more useful as a fold-away cargo space behind the X5's two-piece flip-up/fold-down tailgate.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the X5 but it offers standard Bluetooth, while a rearview camera is an option, as are surround-view cameras. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are bundled with blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.
All X5s have power features, but lack standard leather or a standard rearview camera, even with a base price of almost $54,000. Most versions have navigation and smartphone connectivity. Options include all-wheel drive, premium leather,a rear-seat entertainment system, and Bang & Olufsen audio.