BMW X5 Long-term review: Still a drivers choice


There were two BMWs sitting in our driveway for a period this month, with the new G30 5 Series on test in 540i guise, the big sedan cosying up alongside the X5 long termer.

Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Tom Gasnier/Kyle Cassidy

It was surprising to drive these two back-to-back as this further served to highlight the 5’s move towards a luxury persona. Hopping back behind the wheel of the X5, it was somewhat surprising to note that the big SUV felt more connected to the road. The steering gave a greater sense of association with the front wheels, the ride a better feeling of contact with the tarmac beneath.

The steering gave a greater sense of association with the front wheels, the ride a better feeling of contact with the tarmac beneath.

Refinement levels easily favoured the new saloon and there’s still something to be said about a lesser mass riding lower but when it’s so well isolated from the road, it’s hard to connect with it as a driver. We hope the next X5 doesn’t try to replicate this ultra-luxury persona; the X5’s driver appeal is a quality we admire in the big panzer. Sure, it’s weighty but it can thunder along, steers well, and the variable all-wheel drive never fails to deliver the go when you really need it.

As well-heeled customers seem to crave ever greater levels of refinement, and seemingly less desire to actually drive, will we see more BMWs head the way of the 5? Time will tell, but a new X5 isn’t due for a while. The new X3 will be the next BMW SUV along, out at the end of the year and promising to add a proper M version too. As a colour, we consider white a good choice for a vehicle usually. It’s a plain hue but one that normally does a good job of hiding the dirt. Yet on this M Sport-kitted X5, the sills of the aero kit are quickly darkened with road grime, making the whole thing look unsightly and forcing a weekly wash. It’s the same with the wheels; these are soon encased in brake dust, and the multi-spoke 20s are evil to clean.

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It’s hard to grumble about the consumption-to-grunt ratio of the X5 30d, however. The average hovers around the mid-nines, the majority of mileage done in the city grind, and while that’s still a ways off the official urban claim for the X5, that being 7.2L/100km, we can’t complain given it’s no worse than the four-cylinder Sorento we ran last year, and yet it delivers a lot more power. With its 70L tank, a fill provides a range of around 950km, according to the trip computer. Our X5 is fitted with the third-row option with two individual seats in the rear that fold flat into the boot. The seating configuration is best described as 5+2 rather than being a genuine seven-seater. 

We’ve found the space better suited to kids but before they get too lanky, spotty and lippy. While the seats are of reasonable comfort, the access past the second row of seats is limited and, once back there, there’s not a great deal of legroom for anyone taller than 1.5m. They are fine as occasional seats but it’s probably why BMW’s development of a bigger SUV, X7, is back on the agenda, with a Mercedes GLS-rivalling amount of room in the rear. Next month, a report on our connected experience.