By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
At the time of its introduction in late 1999, the BMW X5 SUV was either a revelation (for those new to the BMW brand) or an aberration (for those true to the BMW brand). Never before had BMW – or anyone else – combined an accomplished on-road dynamic with such a high degree of utility. Both substance and presence were upgraded in 2011, as the X5 received both new sheet metal and drivetrains. And those drivetrains run the gamut, from an in-line 6-cylinder delivering 300 horsepower to a twin-turbocharged V8 offering 400 horsepower, and the X5 M with 555 horsepower from the same 4.4-liter V8 displacement. At the opposite end of the consumption spectrum is the X5 xDrive35d. The turbocharged diesel provides 265 horsepower and an EPA rating of 26 mpg highway.
If you're enamored of the BMW marque or mystique, but require more utility than BMW sedans or wagons provide, the X5 should be right up your alley. The platform remains dynamic, while the people/cargo equation is much more versatile.
Despite its more sporting capability when compared to the SUV entries of other carmakers, you won't be taking an X5 – any X5 – to an autocross or track day. To that end, you might not wish to accept the trade-off for the X5's more aggressive performance (i.e. a more aggressive ride). If you prefer the art of shopping to the art of driving you'll find better options within BMW's competitive set.
Given the number of substantive changes (some 4,000 new parts) in 2011, the 2012 BMW X5 is largely a carryover model year for the SUV, with only minor modifications.
Driving Impressions With a sophisticated suspension, excellent braking, communicative steering and at least 300 horsepower, the 2012 BMW X5 – in any of its iterations – provides a compelling testament to BMW's...engineering prowess. No amount of engineering, however, can completely disguise the X5's mass, some 5,000 pounds in basic x35i form. This remains a Sport Activity Vehicle and not, notably, a sport sedan; care should be given to operate an SUV in a more conservative manner than a sport sedan or Sports/GT. If you demand a combination of "sport" and "utility," few will deliver that combo more credibly than BMW's X5.
Offering 265 horsepower and a stump-pulling 425 lb-ft of torque, BMW's Advanced Diesel is the perfect powerplant for the times. If going from stoplight to stoplight the diesel delivers a 0-60 time of under seven seconds. And if you're going from coast to coast expect to eke out 26 mpg. The above, in combination with a genuinely fun demeanor, makes the xDrive35d SUV the gem in this particular lineup.
xDrive Full-Time All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
With limited ground clearance and all-season tires, the 2012 X5 has few off-road aspirations, but it does have one of the best all-weather all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems available, which electronically varies front-to-rear torque and traction control to optimize grip.
In "growing" the brand, BMW expanded X5 cargo capacity via a longer and higher body in combination with a lower cargo floor. Rear seats fold flat, and an optional third row is available. That third row is best reserved for children; BMW's target demographic for the X5 is young families. The cockpit is oriented to the driver, while a generous greenhouse provides excellent views out for both driver and passengers. Regrettably (given its starting price), leatherette is the standard seating material for both xDrive35i and xDrive35d. And a 2-piece tailgate provides access to the rear compartment.
With its exterior updates, last year's X5 enjoyed the more organic feel of BMW's sedan lineup. That, in combination with a longish wheelbase and short overhangs, imbues the new X5 with a visual athleticism not evident on the previous generation. Eighteen-inch wheels (standard) supply the X5 SUV with a planted stance, while both 19-inch and 20-inch are available to those wanting an even more aggressive look – and more aggressive on-road capability.
All X5 models enjoy a generous level of standard equipment. The base X5, with an MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of roughly $48,500, includes xDrive all-wheel drive (no 2WD variants offered), Hill Descent Control, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, 3-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power-adjustable driver's and passenger's seat, iDrive system with on-board computer and controller and AM/FM stereo with 205 watts transmitted through 10 speakers. This, of course, is above and beyond the dynamic capabilities standard on every BMW. The X5 xDrive35d brings to the table 4-cylinder efficiency, prodigious torque and a third-row seat. Finally, both X5 xDrive50i and X5 M bring performance to blow your mind – along with everyone else's.
The base X5 is notable for the number of options not available. A Convenience package includes the panoramic moonroof, while navigation, heated front seats, a third-row seat and satellite radio can be spec'd separately. Opt for the X5 xDrive35i Premium, with a base of over $56,000, and your variables expand exponentially. An Active ventilated seat package, Cold Weather Package, Premium Sound Package and Convenience Package are just a few of the options you can include on your new X5.
You pay your money, and you take your choice. And as with most purchases, the decision is arrived at by balancing your needs and your wants. The great thing about BMW's engine mix is that not one of them sacrifices performance; even the slowest off the line, BMW's 3.0-liter turbodiesel, delivers 60 mph from a stop in under seven seconds. If you should want to stretch the envelope to its Chuck Yeager max, opt for the X5 M. This variant (of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8) punches a full 555 horsepower to the pavement.
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,250 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbodiesel
265 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm
425 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
4.4-liter V8 Twin-Turbocharged
400 horsepower @ 5,500-6,400 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
4.4-liter V8 Twin-Turbocharged (X5 M)
555 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
500 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,650 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17
By gansett on Thursday, March 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Cons: "Frequent repairs at low mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"At 23,000 miles I have had over $10,000 in repairs, mostly paid after warranty by BMW. The car's reliability is very low. All kinds of electrical and engine issues when most cars haven't even been broken in. Love how it drives for an SUV but would NOT buy this brand of SUV again. I think it is very poorly made mechanically. Goes thru tires like I go thru underwear with NORMAL driving. On 4th set since new in 5 years. And, because they are run flat they cost a fortune. More reliable SUVs out there for sure"
By Gearhead120 on Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Pros: "Awesome handling, great headlights, fun to drive"
Cons: "Sluggish, horrible reliability, quality, MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Where do I start? Well, the problems initially started on day one when we purchased this vehicle used. Bought the 2010 X5 3.0i Xdrive as a CPO with 45,000 miles on it. Had the premium package, cold weather package, and the most expensive and useless running boards ever. DO NOT SPEND THE MONEY ON THE RUNNING BOARDS. THEY DO NOTHING BUT GET YOUR PANTS DIRTY. The first problem with the vehicle was the exhaust. Every time the SUV would come to a stop at idle, it raddled like crazy! We took it to the dealer and they said rocks were making their way into the heat shield. Second problem was when it started to become cold out (We bought the car in August) around late October. It wouldn't start and we kept getting a message that said "High Battery Discharge!" on the navigation screen. Come December, the car wouldn't start if it was 25 decrease or below outside. One of the worst problems we had with this vehicle was the time I went outside to start the car, and shut the drivers side door and IT MANAGED TO SOMEHOW BLOW OUT 3 OF THE WINDOWS! And the car would not drive correctly UNLESS it had run flats on it. We went through 3 sets of tires in the very short 2 years we owned the SUV. Something was very wrong with this car. Lots of problems, poor quality, no height adjustable seat belts, and some of the worlds worst cup holders. Aside from the handling, this car was not so great. The only thing I miss about this car is the legendary handling."
By mtony on Sunday, November 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Great handling and responsive engine. Actually fun to drive for an SUV. Very little body roll with the Active Roll Stabilization/Dynamic drive suspension. V8 tends to develop oil and coolant leaks."
15 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By skyking on Monday, October 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "German quality control, powerful good looking SUV"
Cons: "Brake dust, premium gas."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought a beautiful Vermillion Red metallic 2011 X5 sport utility a few weeks ago. I can testify that it gets 25 miles per gallon on a trip and that is in the mountains of Western Maryland when I drive the most. I believe on level ground with the A.C. off and driving below 70 I could get 28 mpg. The only drawback so far since I am a fanatic for keeping my car clean is that the "brake dust" drives me crazy trying to keep it cleaned off of the wheels, and the use of "high test" gas. (but I knew that going In). I have always wanted a BMW and it is a far cry from the 2007 Honda coupe that I was driving. But so far, I think it is the most beautiful SUV on the road."
22 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By WatzItTuYa on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "I can say I own a BMW"
Cons: "I hate to say that I own a BMW"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this vehicle brand new. Buyer's remorse set in 1 week after. The jarring ride, crackle and squeak sounds from plastics are few characteristics of this SAV from day one after bringing it home. An expensive vehicle should be more better than this. Heck, I've rented economy cars that had better ride and craftmanship. I can't believe that I am comparing a BMW to simple cars now. Considering selling it for its value of 20K as of September 2014, and buying something practical for 20K like a Honda Fit that will bring more happiness for years to come. What a shame."
33 people out of 69 found this review helpful
By Edawg on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, fast, driveability"
Cons: "cost of tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I bought my 2011 with 25k miles and certified. I now have 66k miles on it without any problems. The only complaint I have is that I have the wide sport/staggered tires on the vehicle and they will not get more than 10k miles. I have used Michelin and Bridgestone tires and both have been completely worn out at 10k miles. So if you want this car with those rims make sure you set aside about 1k per year for tires."
13 people out of 16 found this review helpful