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Midsize Luxury SUV Best Buy of 2020

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2020 BMW X5

  • All-new BMW X5 builds on established legacy
  • Refined and powerful drivetrains
  • Class-leading ride and handling
  • Pricing starts at $58,900 (including $995 destination charges) | Price yours
  • On sale now | See BMW X5 models for sale near you

The BMW X5 is one of the pioneers of the luxury SUV segment and this most recent redesign of this stalwart has lifted its game considerably, so much so, that for the first time, it has captured Kelley Blue Book’s Best Buy honors.

That’s quite an accomplishment given that the category is more, not less, competitive, with a host of new entries including the Lincoln Aviator, Cadillac XT6 and Audi Q8 as well as a redesigned version of the Mercedes-Benz GLE. While each of these rivals have strengths, the 2020 BMW X5’s consistency across a broad band of measurements were crucial in winning Best Buy recognition.

Bolder, but Still Handsome

While BMW is playing “my grille is bolder than your grille” with vehicles like the all-new X7 and redesigned 7 Series, the X5 redesign does have a more prominent twin kidney face, but it’s not over the top, blending in nicely with the athletic look of the body. The X5 has a crisp, clean look where the form definitely follows function. It’s not as large as the Lincoln Navigator and although it has an optional third row, the X5 is best used as a two-row vehicle.

The term crossover SUV is thrown around a lot, and essentially it applies to vehicles that use car-based platforms with transversely mounted engines driving the front axle in two-wheel drive. Not so with the X5. BMW likes to call it a Sport Activity Vehicle, but for all intents and purposes the 2020 X5 looks like a traditional SUV and functions like one with a longitudinally mounted engine that drives the rear wheels in its sDrive trim level. Of course, four-wheel drive is offered on its xDrive variants.

Dynamic Capabilities

This layout has significant implications when it comes to ride, handling and off-road capability, all of which are strong suits for the X5. BMW’s catchphrase, the Ultimate Driving Machine, also applies here. The X5 is athletic, and fun to drive with a well-controlled ride and responsive steering. Its well-sorted chassis inspires confidence, it goes where it’s pointed and the response is linear and predictable. And for all the dynamic capability, the suspension is geared towards comfort that makes the X5 an excellent daily driver thanks to its raised seating position and great outward visibility.

The feedback from the all the controls, steering, braking and acceleration is in keeping with what you’d expect from a BMW, which made its reputation on inventing the sport sedan. It applies that philosophy in the SUV segment and the X5 is ample proof of that approach. A solid chassis with great performance on-road also has the potential to transfer a lot of that competence to off-road ability. BMW’s seriousness in expanding the 2020 X5’s capability can be seen in the new Off-Road Package, a first for the brand on any X model. Among the goodies in this $3,950 option are additional skid plates, an electronically controlled rear differential lock, multi-terrain drive modes and an air suspension. The new adjustable suspension can add another 2.8 inches to the X5’s already generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

I6 and V8 Power

Depending on model, BMW offers the X5 with a choice of a 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine or a 4.4-liter turbo V8. The sDrive and xDrive 40i models come with a 335-horsepower inline-6, while the four-wheel-drive xDrive 50i features the 456-horsepower V8. The xDrive M50i takes the V8 to 523 horsepower. All variants come with an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

As a base engine, there are few vehicles that can match the 2020 BMW X5’s smooth power delivery. As we reported in our First Review, “Hands down, the X5’s turbocharged inline-6 is a honey of an engine. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it’s a V8. The power is that good, and the response is that assured. Just about whatever you want, this engine is willing to give.” With impressive 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.2-5.3 seconds, depending on whether you have rear- or all-wheel drive, the 6-cylinder-powered X5 also delivers 26 highway mpg. Step up to the V8 and you find output that enables the X5 to sprint to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds while still offering 22 mpg on the highway. The M50i knocks another half-second off that time and delivers the same fuel economy.

Luxury Amenities

The BMW is more than just a competent vehicle: it also delivers on the promise of luxury when you get inside the cabin. The interior features plenty of soft-touch and leather-clad surfaces, a multitude of seat adjustments (though the second row lacks a recline function), and large, easy-to-read digital and infotainment displays. The large center 12.3-inch screen can be controlled through BMW’s seventh generation of iDrive. Over the years, we have become accustomed to the setup, and while it can be complicated, there are enough redundant controls and help menus to enable you navigate its multiple capabilities. While we’d like to a see a simpler approach, our experience with competitors is that the whole human-machine interface equation still needs a lot of work.

The only other nit to pick with the 2020 BMW X5 is its lack of Android Auto compatibility. BMW does offer a wireless version of Apple CarPlay, but the other downside is that after the first year, you have to subscribe to continue to use the service. Among the features we do like are the multiple high-res images from the optional all-around view cameras, the truly panoramic sunroof and the slick power clamshell rear liftgate. Left up, the lower portion keeps loose items from falling out of the cargo area, and when lowered provides a nice seating perch. There’s also a button that allows air suspension-equipped models to drop the vehicle a few inches further lowering the rear liftover.

Competitive Pricing

Vehicles in this segment are not inexpensive. But from an as-tested pricing perspective, the 2020 BMW X5 xDrive40i was competitively priced at $72,980, just over $300 more than its next closest rival, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350. In the segment, pricing ranges from just under $60,000 for the 2020 Cadillac XT6 up over $90,000 for a loaded 2020 Lincoln Aviator, so the X5 is priced in the heart of the category. While it doesn’t retain value like the class-best Lexus RX, it is competitive with both Mercedes and Audi and has a 5-Year Cost to Own that is near the top of the segment. And it does so with a package that leads in drivability, comfort, style and ease of use. There are many models to choose from in the luxury midsize SUV segment, but there are almost as many reasons why the 2020 BMW X5 should be at the top of that list. For many years, the X5 has been a go-to vehicle for many satisfied buyers and with the improvements in the latest generation, it now has a Best Buy recommendation to go along with it.

Photo Tour: 2020 BMW X5

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Build and price your own 2020 BMW X5 to see this week’s Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more, or check out X5 models for sale today at dealers near you.

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