2021 BMW X5

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
March 3, 2021

Buying tip

Splurge on extras for the turbo-6 X5, instead of the V-8. You’ll hardly miss the acceleration while you sit in glass-trimmed, high-definition, leather-lined splendor.

features & specs

M50i Sports Activity Vehicle
sDrive40i Sports Activity Vehicle
xDrive40i Sports Activity Vehicle
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
MPG
21 city / 26 hwy
MPG
21 city / 25 hwy
MSRP
$82,800
MSRP
$59,400
MSRP
$61,700

The 2021 X5 is BMW’s best vehicle, one that does nearly everything with grace and ease.

What kind of car is the 2021 BMW X5? What does it compare to?

The 2021 BMW X5 is a five- or seven-seat luxury crossover SUV that stands out even in BMW’s family of exceptional vehicles. It’s a utility wagon, a high-performance machine, a plug-in electric vehicle with 30 miles of range, and a luxury vehicle with a beautiful interior. 

Is the 2021 BMW X5 a good car?

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We give the X5 SUV a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10, with high scores in features, comfort, and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 BMW X5?

This year BMW’s dropped the xDrive50i model and launched a plug-in hybrid xDrive45e. Satellite radio now comes standard, as does Android Auto compatibility. A mild-hybrid system has been grafted onto the turbo-6 40i, and the off-road package has been dropped.

BMW uses a steady hand to pen the X5. It’s undramatic but handsome and effective in telegraphing its dual personality, that of luxury and utility. Designers save the drama for the interior, which they buff to a low-gloss sheen with panels of open-pore wood, metallic trim, and leather that ranges from business-suit black to blazing red.

Basic turbo-6 performance is anything but average in the X5 sDrive40i and xDrive40i. Either one skips to 60 mph in about 5.3 seconds—same as the new plug-in hybrid xDrive45e—and picks off gear changes without hesitation. V-8 versions range from stupid-quick in the M50i to explosively powerful in the 617-horsepower X5 M Competition. Power’s great, but the X5’s utility gets overpowered in M versions, with their super-stiff ride and hefty steering; put us down for the xDrive40i with the available air springs for a controlled, pleasant performance piece.

Put us down for the multi-adjustable cooled front seats, too; the X5’s standard chairs fit lots of people well, but the fancy buckets have built-in long-distance comfort. So does the second-row bench, but skip the available third-row seat; it’ll be folded down most of the time anyway to access the flexible cargo space and its low load floor through the two-piece tailgate.

All X5 crossovers have automatic emergency braking, but the NHTSA has a bone to pick with its front crash protection. Options include driver-assistance features, parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system.

How much does the 2021 BMW X5 cost?

The $60,395 X5 sDrive40i comes with power features, synthetic leather upholstery, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All-wheel drive adds $1,700. The plug-in hybrid costs $66,395. Spiraling into the performance atmosphere, the X5 M50i runs $83,795, while the X5 M begins at $106,095.

Where is the 2021 BMW X5 made?

In South Carolina.

7

2021 BMW X5

Styling

The X5’s best look comes from behind the steering wheel.

Is the BMW X5 a good-looking car?

We think so, though it’s a conservatively drawn crossover that goes for durable style rather than on-trend details. It’s a 7 for us.

With its massive air intakes, wide grille, and LED headlights, the X5 doesn’t shy away from attention. It’s a statement piece that somehow manages to look understated, thanks to a roofline that’s been repeated over a few generations of X5s, a gentle and noncontroversial uptick in its shoulder line at the rear, and the neat and regular appearance of just about every detail from the LED taillights forward. There’s a slight pinch over the rear wheels that reminds drivers they’re in a BMW—a little. Some versions get metallic trim and blacked-out wheel arches, while others get body-color bits and a deeper front spoiler.

The X5 surrounds front passengers with plenty of wood to settle any ruffled feathers. As it’s been restyled the X5 has matured and gained some lovely interior finishes. It’s more a luxury-car interior than ever, with options for big high-definition touchscreen displays, glass-tipped controls, metallic or high-gloss trim bits, even open-pore wood. BMW stitches black synthetic leather into base models, but it’s picked up some tailoring skills and a wider color palette: The X5 offers foodie-themed upholstery in tasty colors ranging from coffee to cognac to truffle to orange.

 

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7

2021 BMW X5

Performance

All X5s have plentiful power and grippy, confident handling.

Not all BMW X5s are equal, but even the least equal among them has excellent performance. We give the X5 a 7 here, with a point extra for its base powertrain and one more for ride and handling—knowing that all the more expensive versions would score even better.

Is the BMW X5 4WD?

All but the base sDrive40i come with all-wheel drive.

How fast is the BMW X5?

It ranges from merely fast to obscenely fast.

BMW fits one of its best engines in the X5 s40i and xDrive40i, and teams it to an unflappable 8-speed automatic. The 3.0-liter turbo-6 spools out some 335 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds and a dose of aural mechanical pleasure that’s unmatched in base luxury SUVs. This year it’s fitted with a mild-hybrid system that powers its accessories but doesn’t contribute extra horsepower or higher fuel economy.

A new xDrive45e teams the inline-6 with batteries and an electric motor for identical acceleration times and 31 miles of electric driving range. We’ll report back when we get to drive one.

Tap into models powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, and the X5 catapults into sport-sedan territory. The M50i orders up a 523-hp version of the engine, good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds, with the same effortlessly quick shifts from the 8-speed automatic. Then there’s the X5 M, with 600 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds—or 617 hp in Competition spec. Each comes with all-wheel drive that scrabbles to maintain traction in the face of that heroic output, and each comes with a sport differential that can split power across the rear wheels for even better grip and cornering response.

X5 ride and handling

Standard-issue X5 SUVs have independent suspensions and adaptive dampers, but an available air suspension softens the otherwise firm and well-controlled ride. We’d opt for it since it doesn’t alter the X5’s smart handling much, and since it can lower the X5 for better efficiency when cruising or raise it to 8.7 inches of ground clearance for the occasional rock hop. The X5 can tow up to 7,209 pounds on its trailer hitch, but the former off-road package has been dropped.

Regardless of suspension, the non-M X5 is smooth-riding and comfortable on long hauls, though the biggest wheels would be a no for us—as would the M Sport suspension, neither of which does much for the X5’s utility duties. If a performance machine is what you have in mind, the X5 M fits the description. With adjustable dampers, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, the X5 M has a stiff and unforgiving ride that sings out when it crosses pockmarks and potholes. There’s little body lean thanks to active roll bars, and plenty of cornering poise—not to mention lots of custom drive-mode programs for shifting and throttle response—but it turns driving the X5 into more of a chore.

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9

2021 BMW X5

Comfort & Quality

The X5’s spread-out space is matched with great seats and great fit and finish.

Larger than ever and better finished, too, the American-made X5 has excellent seating, space, and quality, for a score of 9 here.

At 194.3 inches long, the X5 sits on a 117.1-inch wheelbase and is 78.9 inches wide. That gives it the kind of room that can suit up to five adults; for seven, check out the very similar but longer X7.

In front, the X5 sports power heated seats with a wide range of adjustments and synthetic leather upholstery. They’re great—until you’ve sat in the upgraded multi-contour seats with real leather, even better support, and cooling. The X5 also surrounds front passengers with lots of space and storage options for smartphones and water bottles.

The back seat doesn’t follow far behind, with more than 37 inches of leg room and a relatively upright seating position with good head room. Three adults can share the space without violating too much personal space. A third-row seat can be added to X5 40i SUVs, but if you really need three rows, ante up to the more spacious X7; this one’s not very practical.

The flat, low floor of the X5’s cargo hold can tote 33.9 cubic feet of stuff behind the second-row seat, or 72.3 cubic feet behind the front seats—and the X5 still has a split tailgate, with fold-down and pop-up sections.

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6

2021 BMW X5

Safety

The NHTSA blemishes the X5’s otherwise excellent safety record.

How safe is the BMW X5?

While the IIHS in the past has called the X5 a Top Safety Pick+, it loses that award this year since its pedestrian protection hasn't been tested. The NHTSA gives it four stars overall for crash safety.

That pulls its score here down to a 6.

Outward vision can be a challenge in the X5. Like most big SUVs it has big blind spots toward the rear quarters. It can be equipped with a surround-view camera system and parking sensors, which help greatly. An automatic parking system is also offered, but it’s tough to find, buried in BMW’s camera menus.

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9

2021 BMW X5

Features

At $60,000 base, the X5 comes fully stocked with features, if not value.

With an excellent set of features and options, good infotainment, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with 3 years/36,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance, the 2021 X5 earns a 9 for features.

Which BMW X5 should I buy?

We like the base model’s excellent value. With standard 19-inch wheels, navigation, synthetic leather upholstery, satellite radio, and heated power front seats, the base $60,395 X5 also offers a 12.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All-wheel drive costs $1,700, and we’d add it with leather upholstery, a convenience package that bundles wireless smartphone charging with satellite radio and wireless CarPlay, and an active driving-assistance package for another $1,700. The plug-in hybrid costs $66,395, with similar equipment.

How much is a fully loaded BMW X5?

The $83,795 X5 M50i gains remote start, a sport differential, better brakes, an adaptive suspension, premium audio, multi-contour seats, wireless smartphone charging, and 20-inch wheels. It can reach $100,000—just about where the $106,095 X5 M begins.

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4

2021 BMW X5

Fuel Economy

A new plug-in hybrid boosts the X5’s efficiency profile.

Is the BMW X5 good on gas?

The X5 doesn’t earn exceptional fuel economy ratings, but a new plug-in hybrid points to the future. We give the BMW SUV a 4 here thanks to the EPA ratings for the X5 xDrive40i: 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. With rear-wheel drive, it’s slightly lower at 21/25/23 mpg. 

With the rorty V-8 in the M540i, the X5 sinks to 16/22/18 mpg; it’s even lower in the X5 M, at 13/18/15 mpg. But with the new plug-in hybrid system, the X5 xDrive45e gets 31 miles of EPA-rated electric driving range, a 50-MPGe efficiency rating, and 20 mpg combined when its battery is discharged.

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$59,400
MSRP based on sDrive40i Sports Activity Vehicle
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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 6
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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2021 BMW X5 Pricing Insights

  • 2021 BMW X5 is available
  • Lease: From $679 for 36 months
  • Rebate: $1,000 college graduate
  • Finance: From 1.9% APR for 60 months
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