BMW X5 review

BMW X5 review

Third Generation BMW X5 set to continue the model’s success.

It’s the vehicle that has set the standard for luxury SUVs for more than 10 years and continues to lead the segment in terms of performance, refinement, technology and sales. Late in 2013, BMW launched the third generation of its X5 wagon to ensure it continues its reign at the top.

BMW calls the X5 a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) rather than a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and herein lies the key to the vehicle’s place in the market. There’s nothing utilitarian about the X5 and it could never be compared to traditional SUVs or 4x4 wagons such as Land Cruiser or Jeep. It has more in common with other vehicles wearing the Bavarian brand’s spinning propeller badge and other luxury marques from Europe. The X5 is a grand tourer in every sense of the term, it just wears a taller, more practical body than those on more traditional GTs.

All variants in the new X5 range get more power but with cuts in fuel consumption. The popular xDrive 30d models gets 10 more kilowatts and 20 additional newton-meters to give it 190kW at 4000rpm and 560Nm between 1500 and 3000rpm. At the same time the average combined fuel use has dropped from 7.4L/100km to 6.2L/100km. Similar gains in performance and efficiency are also seen across the range which continues to have xDrive30d, xDrive40d, xDrive50i and M50d variants.

Still to come are the xDrive35i six-cylinder petrol powered model and the new 25d models in both xDrive AWD and, in a first for the model in Australia, the sDrive25d with rear-wheel drive. These four-cylinder turbo diesel variants punching out a potent 160kW and 450Nm will become the new entry level to the X5 range starting at $82,900 for the RWD sDrive and $87,900 for the AWD xDrive. BMW is quick to add that these are not stripped out models and are better equipped than the outgoing xDrive30d model thus making entry to X5 ownership some $17,000 more affordable. The 25d, 35i and 40d models will be available from March.

All X5 models get more kit for the money plus fresh exterior and interior styling to distinguish them from the previous generation and maintain their dynamic appearance. X5s have always been leaders in dynamics and there’s nothing here to take that title away from them. In fact, the upper spec M50d and xDrive50i models get improved handling with Adaptive Suspension Packages to make them the sharpest cornering SUVs on the market.

The sweeping bends and curves on the test route around New Zealand’s Lake Taupo and surrounding mountains region clearly displayed as much with a truly rewarding experience for the driver. This doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality and BMW has better matched its suspension to the run-flat tyres that are standard fit on all models. However we did find the base xDrive30d with its 19-inch wheels and tyres to be the most comfortable while still offering rewarding dynamics.

As a relatively high-priced, luxury soft roader, the X5 isn’t for everyone but if you are after this style of vehicle, the BMW remains top choice.

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