By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
Although the 2016 BMW X5 is branded by the company as a “sports-activity vehicle” or SAV, for simplicity’s sake we’ll just lump it in with such equally capable SUVs as the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GLE. However, there’s no denying the X5 places a big emphasis on the “sport” part of sport-utility vehicle, offering an impressive lineup that includes a plug-in hybrid, diesel model and high-performance M variant. Though it has grown slightly in size, the X5 remains manageable and delivers big in the areas of room, economy and performance. While it certainly is the master of the paved road, the pricey X5 still takes a back seat to such off-road champs as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
If your next SUV needs to be as adept on the road as the best sports sedan, BMW’s 2016 X5 SUV tops a very short list of potential candidate. With a wide variety of powertrain options, there’s an X5 for just about anyone willing to spend $50,000 or more.
For 2016, a new X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid joins the lineup, providing up to 13 miles of pure electric driving enjoyment and fuel-economy estimates up to 56 mpge.
For 2016, the BMW X5 offers five engine choices each with varying fuel economy and acceleration times, but not one of which we’d consider a slug. The...
... entry-level X5 sDrive35i is the only model powered by its rear wheels (RWD); all others employ all-wheel drive (AWD), and its turbocharged inline-6 can move it to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. The new plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive40e does the same run in 6.5 seconds, which makes us wonder why anyone would pony up an extra $10,000 for the 445-horsepower V8 in the X5 xDrive50i. Heck, you can get more torque and pulling power with nearly identical acceleration plus better fuel economy in the X5 xDrive35d turbodiesel. No matter which model you choose, all X5 models deliver excellent handling on both wet and dry pavement, although sometimes at the expense of a comfortable ride.
BMW’s 2016 X5 crossover SUV uses a large 10.2-inch display screen and an intuitive user interface. The large screen makes it easy to find and activate various icons, not to mention delivering a razor-sharp image when hooked up to the available rearview camera.
Two of the things that make a BMW a BMW are its taut handling and precise steering. If you’re the type who loves to tackle tight turns and feel like you are one with the car, the X5’s direct steering feel and immediate feedback are addicting.
The 2016 BMW X5 has seating for five across two rows. A 3rd-row seat is optional and increases passenger count by two, but room in that last row is very tight. Legroom is good in the first two rows, and the front seats are comfortable and spacious, even for adults with large frames. The 2nd-row seats fold in a 40/20/40 configuration, handy for fitting long items like skis down the middle. BMW's latest iDrive with touch-pad controller is easier to figure out, and the main controls for climate and audio are fairly intuitive. Poplar wood trim adds warmth to the cabin.
When we first laid eyes on BMW’s X5 SUV from a distance, we thought we were looking at its smaller brother, the X3. It turned out to be an illusion, and a good one. Though dimensionally the same size as the last generation, the 2016 X5's fresh design makes it appear sleeker and less bloated. In front, BWM's famed "kidney" grille design now flows into the headlight housings, while the X5's rear is the first of the brand to feature "Aero Blades," which channel air for better aerodynamics. Pragmatically, the X5 comes with roof rails and a 2-section tailgate.
Spend the least on a 2016 BMW X5 sDrive35i, and you'll find plenty to like, but a few things are still missing for your roughly $55,000. Making the list are 10-way-power and heated front seats, a panoramic moonroof, navigation with a 10.2-inch high-res screen, a power tailgate, power-adjustable steering column, 9-speaker audio system with HD Radio, and xenon adaptive headlights. Unexpectedly, leather seating and a rearview camera cost extra. The top-line X5 xDrive50i models add the leather and rearview camera along with 19-inch wheels and luxurious, 20-way-power front seats. Four years/50,000 miles of complimentary maintenance is also standard.
Whether you want a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats or a night-vision assist system, options and packages come in abundance for the 2016 X5. To start off the configuration process, BMW offers three optional "lines" – Luxury, xLine and M Sport. The first two bundle aesthetic upgrades and 19-inch wheels, while the M Sport adds performance-oriented features such as steering-wheel-mounted gear shifters and launch control for high-speed takeoffs. Our ears were very pleased with the up-level harman/kardon 600-watt/16-speaker sound system. Those craving extreme sound can get it in a Bang & Olufsen system boasting 1,200 watts.
Four turbocharged engines and one turbo hybrid electric are available. Fossil-fuel-only models include a gasoline- or diesel-powered inline-6, and two V8s offering 445 horsepower (xDrive50i) and 567 horsepower (X5 M). The X5 xDrive40e uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to an integrated electric motor for a system output of 308 horsepower. All have a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. In an effort to be more fuel-efficient, X5 SUVs have a start/stop function that shuts down the engine at idle. The system is quick to restart the engine once you lift your foot off the brake pedal, but we found ourselves just as quickly disabling this function due to its intrusiveness when abruptly roaring the engine to life. X5 models with gasoline engines require premium-grade fuel.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4/electric motor (xDrive40e)
308 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 56 mpge (combined), 24 mpg (combined)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (sDrive35i and xDrive35i)
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (RWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-6 (xDrive35d)
255 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
413 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (xDrive50i)
445 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (X5 M)
567 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg
The 2016 BMW X5 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $54,895 for the RWD sDrive35i. The diesel-powered xDrive35d starts at $58,695, while the xDrive40e starts at $63,095. The V8-powered xDrive50i is priced at $71,695 and the X5 M comes in just over $100,000. Adding options can swell these prices by thousands. At its base price, the BMW’s X5 SUV for 2016 is a few thousand dollars above the slightly smaller Mercedes-Benz GLE and about $10,000 below the 7-passenger GL-Class. Coming in several thousand below the X5 are the Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60 and QX70, Acura MDX, Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The X5's predicted resale value is expected to remain very good, on par with Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, better than the Land Rover but still behind the Lexus RX.