By Keith Buglewicz
Although the 2017 BMW X5 gets called a "sports-activity vehicle" or SAV by its maker, we know a luxury SUV when we see one. Going head to head against the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GLE, the 2017 X5 emphasizes the "sport" part of sport-utility vehicle. The resulting lineup of luxury SUV models includes a hybrid, a diesel, and even a fire-breathing M version, all of which are fun to drive. The X5 is big, but still midsize, so it's easy to manage through traffic and parking lots, while remaining roomy and comfortable at the same time. Note that the "utility" part doesn't extend as far off-road as you can go in a Land Rover or even a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
If you want a luxury-sports sedan, but need the room of an SUV, then the BMW X5 should definitely be on your short list. With its wide range of powertrain options and excellent handling, there's an X5 for just about anyone willing to spend $50,000 or more.
BMW sweats the details for the 2017 X5. Most of the changes involve relabeling various option packages, but the X5 now comes standard with touch-screen capability for the iDrive infotainment system, a navigation system updated to iDrive 5.0, and available wireless charging and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Even the "slow" BMW X5 is pretty quick, thanks to a lineup of five different engines that never struggle to accelerate this big luxury SUV. The entry-level X5 sDrive35i is...
... the only rear-drive (RWD) model, and its turbocharged inline-6 easily moves it to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. The plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive40e does the same run in 6.5 seconds, as does the xDrive35d turbodiesel, meaning you don't have to choose between fuel efficiency and horsepower. However, if you only care about the latter, you have multiple options. There's the 445-horsepower V8 in the X5 xDrive50i or, if you want to go completely nuts with your big luxury SUV, there's the X5 M, with 567 horsepower. All-wheel drive (AWD) makes the X5 an all-weather performer, with surprisingly good handling for such a large heavy vehicle. However, that handling means the ride isn't quite as cushy as some of its competitors.
We already liked the BMW X5's big 10.2-inch infotainment screen and intuitive scroll-and-click user interface. Now it's even better with a new touch screen, letting you either tap the screen or use the dial when it makes the most sense. Plus the high-resolution screen is super-sharp.
Defining characteristics of BMWs are their taut handling and precise steering. If you’re the kind of driver who appreciates tackling sharp turns and feeling one with the car, you'll find the X5’s direct steering feel and immediate feedback addicting.
The 2017 X5 can theoretically seat seven, thanks to an available 2-passenger third row. However, it's so tiny that you'd best leave it folded most of the time for better cargo space. However, the first and second rows are plenty roomy and comfortable, with plenty of space even for adults with large frames. That 2nd-row seat folds in a 40/20/40 configuration, handy for fitting long items like skis down the middle without sacrificing a seating position. The infotainment system is easier to use than ever thanks to a new touch-screen interface, and the controls are easy to find and understand.
From a distance the 2017 X5 looks a lot like its smaller brother, the X3. This is a good thing, because it means that BMW's stylists have cleverly hidden the majority of the BMW's bulk. The twin-port "kidney" grille flows into the headlights, there are "Aero Blades" channeling air for better aerodynamics, and the design is simply proportioned better than it has ever been. On the practical side, there are roof rails for additional cargo space, and the 2-section tailgate allows you to lift the top half while leaving the bottom closed; the bottom half also doubles as a seat for tailgating.
The basic 2017 BMW X5 sDrive35i comes nicely equipped for the most part, with a noteworthy omission. On the standard-equipment list are 10-way-power and heated front seats, a panoramic moonroof, navigation with a 10.2-inch high-res touch screen that's updated to the latest iDrive 5.0 system, a power tailgate, rearview camera, power-adjustable steering column, 9-speaker audio system with HD Radio, and xenon adaptive headlights. However, despite the price you don't get leather seats standard. Spring for the V8-powered X5 xDrive50i model and you get leather, along with 19-inch wheels and luxurious, 20-way-power front seats. Four years/50,000 miles of complimentary maintenance is also standard.
There's a virtual cornucopia of features available for the BMW X5 lineup, from a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats, to a night-vision assist system, to audio systems that include a 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen system. However, BMW has altered things this year, turning the Luxury and M Sport "lines" into discrete option packages. The xLine remains though, adding stainless-steel underbody cladding in the front and rear, silver matte grille surround and exterior trim, and an anthracite headliner inside. The M Sport package adds M badges and other sporty-looking trim, while the Luxury package adds chrome exterior accents.
The sDrive35i and xDrive35i come with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with a nice even 300 horsepower, while the xDrive35d uses a diesel with 255 horsepower but a whopping 413 lb-ft of torque. The V8-powered xDrive50i offers a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 with 445 horsepower, while the king-of-the-hill X5 M offers a blistering 567 horses from its turbocharged V8. The xDrive40e hybrid mates a 2.0-liter turbo-4 to an integrated electric motor for a total of 308 horsepower. Every engine comes connected to a slick 8-speed automatic transmission, and all X5 SUVs have a start/stop function that shuts down the engine at idle. It restarts quickly enough when you lift your foot from the brake, but its intrusiveness had us reaching for the "off" button.
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
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a rear-wheel-drive 2017 BMW X5 sDrive35i is almost $56,500, including the $995 destination charge. Prices climb quickly; all-wheel drive adds another $2,300; the diesel is more than $60,200, and the hybrid comes in at a bit more than $63,000. If you want V8 power you're looking at $73,300 for the xDrive50i, or nearly $100,000 for the X5 M. Options can add thousands of dollars more. Price wise, it splits the difference between the slightly smaller Mercedes-Benz GLE and the slightly bigger GLS. However, the Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60 and QX70, Acura MDX, Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne all start less than the BMW. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid, and note that the X5's resale value is on par with Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, better than the Land Rover but still behind the Lexus RX.