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- Bright and stunning interior cabin
- Very advanced safety features available
- Strong powertrains, top to bottom
- Comfortable and quick
- Exterior is languishing, a bit
- Very small third row
- Price can balloon up to six figures (!) now
- Hybrid isn't very fuel efficient either.
The 2017 BMW X5 boasts a solid set of powertrains and features that move the sedan toward the top of any list of luxury SUVs.
BMW's charge into every SUV segment hasn't watered down the one that started it all. The 2017 BMW X5 is a benchmark for luxury SUVs and the bar by which many are compared. Its off-road ability is eclipsed only by its on-road manners, and its interior style and comfort make this SUV a must-see for shoppers.
We expect there'll be another permutation of a crossover-coupe-SUV-sedan-wagon to charge out of Munich by the time we're done with this story.
It earns a 7.2 out of 10 overall on our scale, thanks to its solid performance and comfort. Fuel economy isn't a strong suit, and the X5 could use a more comprehensive set of safety scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The X5's exterior sheet metal has definitely aged, but not poorly. Inside, the X5 shines and we'll give you the highlights: good dash, great materials, beautiful infotainment, and better outward visibility.
Under the hood, a potent, corporate turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 awaits for base model buyers. Its 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of twist are plenty in rear- or all-wheel-drive configuration. We haven't spent much time behind the wheel of that model, but we can't imagine its 6-second run up to 60 mph will leave many buyers wanting more power.
The next engine up is actually two cylinders down. A plug-in hybrid xDrive40e marries a 2.0-liter turbo-4 to batteries for a net output of 308 hp. All-electric range is a not-very-impressive 14 miles, and the system combines for a 58 mpge rating (or 24 mpg combined on gas alone). As far as hybrids go, the all-wheel-drive X5 xDrive40e isn't much to write home to the folks about, but as far as SUVs go, it's still one of the best.
A 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 sits atop the range and packs a wallop. At 445 hp, the big V-8 charges forward with aplomb: 60 mph comes up in 4.7 seconds. Not many SUVs do so much with so much—short of the X5 M, but more on that in a second—but we suspect that engine will be selected by buyers seeking its interior refinements more than its brute capability.
We consider the X5 M to be its own mountain top. The twin-turbo V-8 spins out 567 hp and 553 lb-ft. Its initial gearing is taller because you didn't need all that rubber on those tires anyway, and it gets special M treatment: special oil pumps operate at higher g forces, modified upper wishbones increase camber for better turn-in, a 10 mm drop in ride height to mitigate substantial body roll, and standard rear air suspension delays the Cheerios that'll likely get sprayed all over the back seat during a spirited grocery run.
All X5s sport an 8-speed autobox that keeps every engine in check, and the transmission does its best to rest the X5's chin on roughly 20 mpg combined in nearly every configuration. A hard-to-find diesel model does better, 25 mpg combined, but again: hard to find.
Comfort, safety, and features
The BMW X5 can seat up to seven, but its third row isn't accessible or comfortable for anyone who's finished the third grade recently. With 23 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up—66 with the seats down—it may not be as capacious as an X3, but the X5 is reasonably versatile for families and their gear.
The X5 has good marks from national safety rating agencies with five stars from the feds and "Good" ratings from the IIHS in the tests it has performed. (It hasn't yet been rated in the small-overlap crash test.) Equipped with optional safety gear, the X5 can stop, go, and help steer itself. But it's that operative word "optional" that irks us and keeps it from scoring higher on our ratings system. A rearview camera is $400 more on an SUV that starts north of $55,000. We can't even.
Like any good BMW, the options are there for the picking—and they're ripe. A supreme Bang & Olufsen sound system can replace the standard nine-speaker affair (or the 16-speaker Harman Kardon system on xDrive50i models). Rear entertainment screens can be added to aid parents' sanity on long drives. Oh, and those two alone add about $6,000 to the bottom line.
As standard, the X5 is luxurious and well-equipped—not many luxury cars offer a standard power adjustable steering wheel or 14-way adjustable seats. A light touch with options can keep an X5 close to reality and we think that's the best route.