When it debuted for the 2000 model year, the X5 was BMW's very first SUV. In 2021 the X5 is far from the only luxurious and sporty European SUV, but it continues to represent BMW's approach to the midsize crossover. That means a balance of performance and comfort, along with abundant tech and good everyday practicality.
The current fourth-generation X5 went on sale for the 2019 model year. Configurations range from an efficient hybrid to track-ready super-SUV. Although the X5 comes standard in five-seater form, a third row is available for seven-passenger capacity.
After over two decades on the market, the X5 is in its best form yet. The BMW adeptly combines sporty capability with luxurious composure, giving it broad appeal. Still, it's not perfect.
Every X5 boasts quick acceleration aided by a well-calibrated transmission. Handling is responsive, even more so when the available rear-steering system is equipped. These traits are best exemplified in the mighty X5 M, which accelerates with supercar quickness. Its steering is sharp, but its ride quality is very stiff in contrast to the standard X5's supple feel.
The X5's cabin is packed with technology, including excellent lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control systems. Although the X5's front seats are comfortable, its second row is surprisingly snug, and the X7 offers more space for those seeking real three-row capacity.
Ultimately, the X5 seems a little too familiar—we wish it innovated like it did when it launched for the new millennium. Regardless, the X5 delivers a cohesive and well-rounded experience, with features and appointments that today's drivers want. It's one of the best midsize luxury SUVs on sale in 2021.
Every X5 uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. Except for the RWD sDrive40i, all models feature BMW's xDrive AWD system.
The X5 sDrive40i and xDrive40i use a turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6. For 2021 this engine gains a 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical system. Output measures 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. In MotorTrend testing, an X5 xDrive40i accelerated to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 21/26 mpg city/highway for RWD models, and 21/25 mpg for AWD models.
The X5 M50i replaces the xDrive50i model for 2021. The M50i uses a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 producing 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. We estimate 0-60 mph acceleration to take about 4.1 seconds. Fuel economy as rated by the EPA is 16/22 mpg.
The X5 M also uses a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8. As standard it produces 600 hp, while in Competition tune it makes 617 hp; both churn out 553 lb-ft of torque. Based on MotorTrend testing of the mechanically similar X6 M Competition, we expect the X5 M's 0-60 mph time to be about 3.3 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 13/18 mpg for both X5 M trims.
New for 2021 is the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 and electric motor for total output of 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. We estimate this X5's 0-60 mph acceleration time at about 5.0 seconds. According to the EPA, fuel economy is 50 mpg-e, with 31 miles of all-electric driving range.
From the NHTSA, the X5 only gets a four-star overall safety rating (out of a possible five stars). When assessed by the IIHS, the X5 earned 2019 Top Safety Pick + designation if equipped with the optional LED reflector high-beam headlights. In all of the IIHS' crashworthiness tests, the X5 earned the top Good score.
Standard driver-assist and active safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist is an optional extra on all models.
Behind the X5's second row, 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space is available. Behind the first row, capacity comes to 72.3 cubic feet.
Although the X5 can be equipped with an optional third-row seat, BMW builds the X7 for maximum passenger and cargo space. Front-row headroom measures 40.7 inches, which compares to 39.5 inches in the Range Rover Sport. Second-row headroom is 39.4 inches, a bit more than the Range Rover Sport's 39.1 inches. Front-row legroom is 39.8 inches in the BMW, just more than the Range Rover Sport's 39.5 inches. Second-row legroom is also slightly better in the X5, which offers 37.4 inches to the Range Rover Sport's 37.0.
Every X5 is equipped with two 12.3-inch displays. One functions as the gauge cluster, and the other as the infotainment touchscreen. For 2021 Android Auto is now included, along with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, and built-in navigation. A wireless charging pad is available to supplement the standard USB ports. Available premium tech features include a 360 degree-view camera system, head-up display, and infotainment gesture controls. A 10-speaker audio system is standard, while 16- and 20-speaker premium setups are available.
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