BMW X5: car review

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

A highly practical MPV that more than held its own on a long journey to the Alps.

BMW X5: car review

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What is it?
BMW X5 4.0-litre diesel costing £51,880

Paul Kelly’s review: Good Motoring, Spring 2013

We were thoroughly looking forward to the arrival of the X5, and overall I would say it more than lived up to our expectations. No sooner had it turned up than we were busy loading it for the trip. The cabin space was wonderful, particularly in the back. But it almost seems that they’ve got the ratio wrong between cabin space and boot, although I suspect some of this is due to the capability to turn it into a seven-seater.

So, we were left a little surprised by the size of the boot. We currently drive an Audi A6 and although I’ve not compared boot sizes, the X5 appeared to have less depth but around the same width. There is definitely extra height which allowed us to pack lots while the driver could still see plenty out of the rear window. Storing skis in the boot was a bit of a challenge but then I wouldn’t expect there to be a family car out there that could easily accommodate two sets of skis at 1.60m in length as well as four passengers. We could have split the back seats and probably still fitted the girls in the back, but it was more hassle than it was worth. A ski rack on the roof would be a consideration in future.


Comfort-wise, it would be difficult to imagine a more luxurious car. We spent several long stints in it, particularly on the way back from Samoens, where we completed the journey without an overnight stop – and with no complaints from George or the children. An additional surprise in terms of comfort was the level of impact on ride comfort given the loads carried. I couldn’t believe how similarly the X5 drove whether fully loaded or not. Again a huge advantage for an active family such as ourselves – when we’re not skiing we are often camping, with all the gear that that requires.


Practicality rated highly, apart from the cream seats. Key features were space, ride height and split level tailgate. For a family of four going skiing for a week, it was absolutely superb. Ride height was also a significant advantage, both in terms of cruising on a motorway and general driving around the resort. The split level tailgate was also a real highlight. The sheer practicality of being able to sit the kids (or the adults) on it to change footwear left me wanting to own a vehicle with this feature.


Performance (aside from fuel consumption) was great. A 4.0-litre engine gives it more than enough poke for motorway cruising, but I couldn’t help feeling that a 3.0-litre engine would still have given enough performance whilst trading off the awful fuel consumption. At around 26 – 27 mpg on both the run to and from Samoens, it’s painfully expensive by anyone’s reckoning.

The children loved the car because, when fully loaded up, they weren’t surrounded on all sides by “gear”. It was always a holiday car, and so the emotion of handing it back was never there. For George and me, it was sad to give it back. We had had a wonderful week driving it, and it has positively enforced our desire and need for this sort of vehicle. In a way I was sorry not to test it in snowy conditions, but I don’t think it would have minded a few flakes. Summing up, it was comfortable, roomy and practical, with great cabin space and a good ride height. However, the fuel consumption was poor – and we couldn’t get used to the workings of the sat nav.