The 2012 BMW X5 represents the second generation of BMW’s first foray into building a crossover. Launched for the 2000 model year as what BMW dubbed a “sport activity vehicle,” the 2012 BMW X5 has become one of the brand’s most popular vehicles. And it’s not hard to see why.
Large and spacious, the five-passenger (seven with the optional third row bench) crossover serves as a luxurious workhorse, towing as much as 6000 pounds in comfort. For those without a boat or U-Haul trailer in need of moving, the BMW X5’s greater strength comes from its on-road prowess in that it handles amazingly like a car despite its tall center of gravity.
In recent years, BMW has made its X5 a testbed for new engines trickling through its lineup to other cars. Currently, BMW offers a choice of turbocharged inline-6 and V-8 gas engines as the bread and butter BMW X5 xDrive35i and xDrive50i. Eco-friendly haulers can opt for the 26-mpg 3.0-liter xDrive35d clean diesel model, and those who want a physics-defying, hair-raising thrill ride can opt for the 555-horsepower X5 M super SUV.
Bodystyle: Crossover SUV
Engines: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel, 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8, 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8
Transmissions: eight-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: 35i, 35d, 50i, M
A lot. BMW gave the X5 a mid-cycle refresh last year, but there are still plenty of changes to the lineup for the 2012 BMW X5. All of the running light rings around the headlights are now LED. Roof rails have been added to all non-M models as standard. A cargo cover, BMW Assist, an iPod jack, and hi-fi stereo system have been added as standard equipment. On BMW X5 xDrive50i models, navigation, lumbar support, auto-dimming mirrors, park distance control, a power tailgate, ambient lighting, and privacy glass are now all standard, and many of those have become part of the premium and sport packages in xDrive35i models. Otherwise, many of the packages for each model have been shuffled around with much of last year’s optional equipment becoming standard or bundled in more affordable packages.
The 2012 BMW X5 has a very traditional, upright SUV-like appearance, yet it looks every part the BMW down to the “Hoffmeister” kink in the rearmost side quarter window. The X5 comes with standard 18-inch wheels with 19-inch wheels available on the premium model and 20-inchers on the sport model. X5 M models feature standard 20-inch wheels, a completely revised sports suspension that lowers the vehicle, and body-colored side molding as opposed to the black plastic found on lesser BMW X5s. X5 Ms also have flared fenders and an aggressive widemouth front bumper and rear diffuser flanked by four exhaust pipes.
Spacious and sporty, the 2012 BMW X5 comes with standard leatherette and available leather with wood trim on the dash in all but the base, sport, and M models. Aluminum trim comes with the sport and BMW X5 M. Otherwise, the interior is as decadent as you wish to make it with active ventilated seats, heated seats, a four-zone climate control, a rear camera, navigation, park distance control, lane departure warning, and a leather-wrapped dashboard available among a lengthy list of other options available.
Performance & Handling
No engine or suspension setup on the 2012 BMW X5 is slouchy by any stretch, but performance varies significantly from the efficient 265-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel, the 300-horsepower X5 xDrive35i, the 400-horsepower X5 xDrive50i, and the sports-car-slaying 555-horsepower X5 M. What you get depends on the engine and suspension setup you order, but all of them have a smooth, carlike ride with progressive, natural-feeling steering. At speed, the X5 feels like a much smaller vehicle than its 5000-pound weight would suggest.
The 2012 BMW X5 comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side-mounted airbags on the front seats, head curtain first and second row overhead airbags, an airbag occupancy sensor, traction control, stability control and an all-wheel drive.
EPA Fuel Economy
35i: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway
35d: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway
50i: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
M: 12 mpg city/17mpg highway
- Handsome styling
- Can tow some serious weight
- Handles like a car
- Amazing X5 M model
- Luxurious interior
You Won't Like
- Transmission lever feels cheap and clunky
- Gets expensive quickly
- Leather isn’t standard at more than $48k
- Not designed for more than light off-roading
Well thought-out vehicle that only gets better when the price goes up
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi Q7
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport
- Porsche Cayenne
- Mercedes-Benz M-Class
- Jeep Grand Cherokee