2020 BMW X5

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 12, 2020

Buying tip

It’s a sharp climb up to a V-8-powered X5 at more than $12,000—and we’re not sure it’s worth it. Splurge on extras in the turbo-6 instead.

features & specs

M50i Sports Activity Vehicle
sDrive40i Sports Activity Vehicle
xDrive40i Sports Activity Vehicle
16 city / 22 hwy
21 city / 26 hwy
20 city / 26 hwy

The 2020 BMW X5 is a big SUV on a big budget that does nearly everything great.

The 2020 BMW X5 stands out among exceptional luxury SUVs because it’s never listened to the rest. It set the tone for other luxury SUVs more than two decades ago when it first rolled off the lines in South Carolina and the X5 hasn’t stopped since.

It’s a 7.2 on our overall scale because it’s exceptionally comfortable, quick, and well-equipped. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Not much is new for the X5 this year besides smartphone compatibility and a high-dollar, high-power X5 M. A plug-in hybrid is due next year and bookends the other side of the fuel-consumption spectrum, we’re predictably torn. It’s possible to find an X5 for less than $60,000, but we’re guessing it’ll be easier to spot Bigfoot. The 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i that we recommend costs about $65,000—love it or lease it.

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What’s available now is turbo-6 or V-8 power that’s ample and predictably smooth, mated to an 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, if you must. The turbo-6 is a wonder and serves up 340 horsepower with fat slices of torque for the beefy SUV. The V-8 is bragging rights at more than 450 hp, but luxurious nonetheless. 

The cabin is the X5’s best look, covered in high-definition displays and finished in synthetic leather or the real thing. Up to seven can fit in the X5, but five people are a better idea. BMW sells a better seven-seater, it’s called the X7 and it’s related to the X5.

Behind the second row, the X5 holds nearly 34 cubic feet of cargo—more than our first college dorm. 

Every X5 gets automatic emergency braking and the IIHS called it a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with certain headlights. Federal testers weren’t as flattering, which is rare among new cars. 

Spend-up safety extras such as active lane control and driver-assistance programs make the X5 much better, same goes for wireless phone chargers, premium audio, and air suspension. 

Base versions cost about $60,000, but a fully loaded X5 M50i can reach toward six figures. An X5 M goes past that and doesn’t look back—not much can catch it anyway.


2020 BMW X5


BMW saves the 2020 X5’s best looks for inside, which we appreciate.

Not much has changed on the outside of the 2020 BMW X5. Spotting the differences is harder than photo compare games we play at the doctor’s office. 

Like our mothers told us, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. The X5 nails it for two points above average. It’s a 7 for style. 

The new X5 draws air into its massive intakes from the front, offset by its grille and LED headlights that sort of take attention away the big BMW buck teeth. Sort of. 

Along the sides, the X5 is more reserved with a small pinch over the rear wheels that draws back to the 5-Series and other BMW sedans and coupes—a little. 

The two-piece tailgate is a look we hope BMW never abandons, it’s been an X5 signature since the first one rolled off the line in South Carolina two decades ago. 

BMW distinguishes the trim line with exterior bits: xLine gets satin aluminum trim and skirts with black wheel arches; M Sport get body-color wheel arches, a tweaked front bumper and unique wheels. 

Inside, the X5’s handsome cockpit gets the requisite number of screens (up to three, including a head-up display) for a luxury crossover. The finish is exquisite and fine, wrapped in metallic finishes, open pore wood, or high-gloss surfaces. (Just skip black, please.)

Synthetic leather upholstery is standard, although real hides are reasonably priced at about $1,000 and diversify the shades. For luxury buyers, we’d opt for the real things. 

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2020 BMW X5


Any 2020 X5 is a comfortable ride with plenty of power.

BMW’s X5 gets two of its best engines mated to a great 8-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive. 

Power is good, and its ride is better. We give the 2020 X5 a 7 for performance based on the base inline-6. If rated separately, the V-8 would get another point for even more power. 

The turbocharged inline-6 is rated at 340 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque that’s sent through an 8-speed automatic to rear or all four wheels. It hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and slices through traffic without a second thought. 

The V-8 is how you establish a pecking order in the neighborhood. Its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 checks in at 456 hp and 479 lb-ft and propels the 2.5-ton SUV to 60 mph in a blur—just 4.6 seconds. It’s equipped with all-wheel drive as standard equipment in xDrive50i and M50i versions, the latter with a sport differential that is an answer to a question few people have asked. 

A plug-in hybrid X5 is coming to America, but not until next year. A turbodiesel X5 is unlikely to arrive in the U.S. again. 

All X5s ride on four-wheel independent suspensions with adaptive dampers, but some X5s get an air suspension that makes for a softer ride. It’s equipped with several packages, including a third row or off-road package. It can raise the X5 to 8.7 inches of ground clearance or lower it for more efficient cruising. When equipped with a tow package, the X5 can lug up to 7,209 pounds from its trailer hitch. 

Regardless of suspension, the X5 is comfortable and smooth on long hauls. M Sport versions add a “professional suspension” that’s tuned for sportier drives but we haven’t yet driven those models. 

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2020 BMW X5

Comfort & Quality

If it can’t fit in the 2020 BMW X5, consider sending them to college farther away from home.

The new X5 is bigger than before with more interior space than prior generations and it rides atop a stiffer body. It’s quieter and serene inside, top trims are very luxurious places to be. 

Starting from an average score, the 2020 X5 gets points above average for good seats up front and in the second row, good cargo capacity, and stellar fit and finish. Want a 10? Look to the related X7 that’s even bigger. 

By the numbers, the X5 measures 194.3 inches from nose to tail, 78.9 inches from side to side, and it rides atop a wheelbase that stretches 117.1 inches. 

The standard front seats in the X5 are comfortable and adjustable in eight directions, we’d be fine with them if multi-contour seats weren’t available. All X5s get standard heated front seats, which we appreciate, and cooled seats are available as an option. 

The spend-up multi-contour seats (standard on V-8 versions) offer more adjustability for riders in the front, up to 20 directions, and good leg support. 

Rear-seat riders don’t lose much either. There’s more than 37 inches of leg room in the back, made better by an upright seating position that corrects our posture like home-room teachers. The head room is good too, and the X5 is wide enough for three abreast without much fuss. The rear seats don’t recline, which we would appreciate, but four-zone climate control keeps us comfortable enough. 

Storage cubbies abound in the X5, including enough center console storage for tablets and phablets, purses and belt bags (Ed's note: We know a fanny pack when we see one), and plenty of bottles. Wireless smartphone chargers and wireless Apple CarPlay are the best of both worlds, and tuck smartphones away from restless fingers. 

BMW offers a third-row seat in inline-6 equipped X5s (that also don’t include the off-road package) but for anything other than very occasional use, we advise against them. The third row in the X7 is more spacious, and there are three-row crossovers available (without a BMW roundel, however) for less money. 

The X5 can hold 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space, 72.3 cubic feet with the second row folded forward. BMW still fits a split-folding tailgate to the X5’s rump. Neat. 

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2020 BMW X5


The IIHS has good things to say about the X5 but federal testers say otherwise.

Independent testers have good things to say about the 2020 X5, but federal testers don’t agree. 

We give the X5 a 7 for safety for its Top Safety Pick+ nod, standard automatic emergency braking, and exceptional traffic jam assistant but take one back for a four-star overall score from the feds. It’s a 7. 

That federal score is head-scratcher. Few new cars earn similar ratings, and even fewer are from luxury brands. 

The IIHS has good things to say. It’s a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with adaptive headlights found in some packages, or that cost $1,000 when bundled with a Premium Package. The IIHS gave the X5 top “Good” scores in all crash tests and rated its automatic emergency braking system “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes. The IIHS noted that the BMW’s standard automatic emergency braking system avoided forward crashes at 25 mph while the spend-up system only slowed the car by 23 mph. 

Outward vision in the X5 is a challenge—similar to all big SUVs—although parking sensors and a surround-view camera system can help considerably. The X5 can also be equipped with an automatic parking system, but it’s buried in camera menus that can make it challenging to find. 


2020 BMW X5


Good warranty, good infotainment, good features, but more than $60,000 to start? My goodness.

Standard smartphone software, a good warranty, and large touchscreen help soften the 2020 BMW X5’s sticker shock. Base cars cost $59,895, including destination, and all-wheel-drive models cost more than $62,000. V-8 models run up the score like only BMWs can.

It’s a 9 for features after we’ve factored in good base equipment, a good touchscreen for infotainment, and a good warranty. 

Base versions want for little, so we don’t stray far for our value pick in the class. Every X5 gets 19-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, active safety features (covered above), navigation, heated front seats, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. BMW’s standard bumper to bumper warranty is 4 years/50,000 miles with included maintenance for the first 3 years/36,000 miles, which is better than many of its competitors. 

We’d dab in a few key upgrades like 20-inch wheels ($600), metallic paint ($550), real leather upholstery ($1,450), and a convenience package that adds equipment such as four-zone climate control, wireless smartphone charging, satellite radio, and wireless CarPlay for $1,050. Active driving assistance is great, too—for $1,700 more, it’s a useful feature but requires that convenience package. For just over $65,000 (almost $67,000 with driver-assistance features), the X5 lives its best suburban life. 

Want to know how silly it gets? Hold your breath. The X5 M50i starts at more than $83,000 and doesn’t stay there long. It gets bigger brakes, a sport differential, an adaptive suspension, multi-contour seats, premium audio, and a wireless smartphone charger, and 20-inch wheels. All-in, the X5 M50i can cost about $99,000, which is temptingly close to the X5 M high-performance SUV that starts at $105,000. Why stop?

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2020 BMW X5

Fuel Economy

The 2020 X5 is more efficient than past versions and an electrified version is on the way.

The new 2020 X5 engines are more efficient than past years, but the SUV’s fuel economy is only middling and there’s no plug available (yet).

Federal testers rate the X5 xDrive40i at 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. That’s a 4 on our scale. 

Rear-wheel-drive X5s manage slightly better fuel economy: 21/26/23 mpg. 

Swap in a V-8 between the X5’s shoulders and fuel economy sinks to 16/22/18 mpg in X5 xDrive50i and M50i versions. 

A plug-in hybrid X5 is due next year.

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