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BMW X5 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
The BMW X5 xDrive40d is the last stop up the ladder before things get truly hardcore in BMW's flagship SUV line-up.

Favoured by everyone from governments requiring bullet-proof security vehicles to parents doing the school drop-off run, BMW's X5 is the limo of the German maker's now extensive SUV range, and the xDrive40d sits close to the top of the line-up.

As if that's not enough pressure, the X5 is up against fierce rivals in the form of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

You'd expect an X5 to be luxurious, come loaded with advanced technology, and be dynamic, because it's a BMW, and that's the brand's shtick. But it's an SUV, so it should also be practical.

That's a lot to ask, but after living with the X5 xDrive40d for two weeks, it gave me the answers.

BMW X5 2018: xDrive 40d
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.3L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$89,950

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

There are 12 different types of X5 in the range, not counting special editions, and pointing out where the xDrive40d sits in the scheme of it all would be like showing you a picture of the Milky Way, with an arrow indicating where Earth is located.

It's not very helpful, and you're left more confused than ever. So, all you need to know is the xDrive40d is the most powerful diesel X5 before you step up to the next level, into BMW's high-performance M-badged X5s.

The $124,990 list price also makes it one of the most expensive X5s. For exactly the same price you can buy its petrol-electric plug-in hybrid twin, the xDrive40e. I've road tested it and you can read all about why I'm an environmental failure here, or you can also stick with me for now and I'll explain why I reckon the diesel version is a better option.

20-inch alloy wheels come as standard. (image: Richard Berry) 20-inch alloy wheels come as standard. (image: Richard Berry)

First, the standard features. For all this money, you'd expect the whole costume box of features and you won't be disappointed. There's a 10.25-inch touchscreen display with surround view camera, 'Professional' sat nav, 16-speaker, 600W, harman/kardon stereo, leather upholstery everywhere (including the instrument panel), power adjustable sports front seats, a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, proximity unlocking, a power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Our test car was fitted with the $1700 'M Sport Package' which adds double-spoke 20-inch alloys (see them in the images), adaptive dampers, an M aerodynamics body kit, leather M Sport steering wheel and aluminium interior trim.

The heated front seats option box had also been ticked ($700), and the no-cost option 'Innovations Package' had been selected, bringing adaptive cruise control, 10.25-inch virtual instrument cluster and a soft-close function for the doors.

'Alpine White' is the only no-cost paint colour. Our X5 had the 'Carbon Black Metallic' paint which will cost you $2000, so will 'Black Sapphire', 'Atlas Cedar', 'Space Grey', 'Glacier Silver', 'Imperial Blue', 'Sparkling Brown' (I know, gross) and 'Mineral White'.

Rivals to the X5? If you want to run a model comparison there's the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d for $125,500, Porsche Cayenne Diesel for $110,100 or a Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE at $134,700.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The X5 looks large but elegant. There's that long BMW family nose, the set-back cabin and from behind it looks as wide and as tall as The Hulk.

But the dimensions show it's not as massive as it might appear. End-to-end the X5 measures 4886mm long, it's 1938mm wide and 1762mm tall. The Benz GLE is just 67mm shorter in length, pretty much the same width and 34mm shorter in height.

If you're looking for something bigger but still with a BMW badge, you'll be happy to hear the first X7 will land in the next 12 months and it's a monster at more than 5.2m long.

This current X5 is the third generation of a model line that kicked off in 1999. Some things haven't changed – the profile has stayed boxy, the windows large, there are those fog lights peering out through circular wells in the front bumper, and a split tailgate.

  • The cabin of the current X5 doesn't feel dated. (image: Richard Berry) The cabin of the current X5 doesn't feel dated. (image: Richard Berry)
  • That large screen, the virtual instrument cluster, the familiar BMW slab-like dashboard, and the luxurious seating add up to a prestigious cockpit worthy of a primo SUV. (image: Richard Berry) That large screen, the virtual instrument cluster, the familiar BMW slab-like dashboard, and the luxurious seating add up to a prestigious cockpit worthy of a primo SUV. (image: Richard Berry)

Where is the X5 made? Spartanburg, South Carolina in the U-S of A, and this X5 is getting old, well... older, for two reasons. First, car years are like dog years and this X5 arrived in 2013 which makes it a senior citizen; and second, the platform used in this one was carried over from the second generation X5.

So, it's doubly old, but still excellent. When will the new one arrive? It's close; we're talking late 2018, and it'll have the same platform as the 7 Series.

Fear not though, the cabin of the current X5 doesn't feel dated – that large screen, the virtual instrument cluster, the familiar BMW slab-like dashboard, and the luxurious seating add up to a prestigious cockpit worthy of a primo SUV.

I'd say the Mercedes-Benz GLE feels more plush on the inside and boasts a more modern exterior design, but both have a mighty road presence which is all part of the experience.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The X5 is the most practical SUV in BMW's line-up. That's an obvious statement, but I'm not just saying it. In the last six weeks, I've road tested the X1, X2, X3, X4 and X5, and the X6 before them.

There have been day-care drop-offs, trips to the airport, furniture hauling, grocery shopping, and nothing in BMW's range beats this giant box on wheels for practicality.

For starters that split-fold tailgate means you have a seat or table or an awning, and it can be opened in confined spaces.

  • The X5's cargo capacity is 650 litres. (image: Richard Berry) The X5's cargo capacity is 650 litres. (image: Richard Berry)
  • The X5 is the most practical SUV in BMW's line-up. That's an obvious statement, but I'm not just saying it. (image: Richard Berry) The X5 is the most practical SUV in BMW's line-up. That's an obvious statement, but I'm not just saying it. (image: Richard Berry)

Inside, the X5's cargo capacity is 650 litres, while the GLE has 550 litres of boot space, but you can fit a recliner chair in both. I know this because in 2015 I bought one of these giant seats second-hand online and brought it home in a Benz GLE. Then three years later I took it to the tip in this BMW X5, which proves it's not just about volume but the size of the boot's aperture, too, and that nobody wants a third hand recliner.

All X5s come with a luggage net, but from the 30d grade upwards the 'storage compartment package' comes standard and includes a glove box net, sunglasses holder, centre armrest strap and hooks in the cargo area.

Storage elsewhere is good with a large split-opening centre console armrest and two cupholders up front, plus another two cupholders in the back row in the rear fold down armrest which also contains a compartment. All doors have giant bottle holders, too.

There aren't many cars that have this much legroom in the back. (image: Richard Berry) There aren't many cars that have this much legroom in the back. (image: Richard Berry)

Space for people is excellent. There aren't many cars that have this much legroom in the back. I'm 191cm tall and can sit behind my driving position with about 100mm to spare. Headroom is also excellent.

A third row can be optioned $4600, making the xDrive40d a seven-seater.

There are five 12-volt power outlets – two up front, two in the rear row and another in the boot. There's only one USB port, however, which these days is one less than satisfactory.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The X5 xDrive40d has an inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which makes 230kW of power and 630Nm of torque. You'll find the same engine in the 30d but the 40d's is tuned to produce 40kW/70Nm more.

An eight-speed automatic shifts gears seamlessly.

This engine suits the X5 well. It sounds deep and tough, and provides plenty of shove with a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds. Want to get there faster? Well, the X5 M50d diesel does it in 5.3 seconds and the V8 petrol xDrive50i romps in at 4.9 seconds.

The X5 xDrive40d has an inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which makes 230kW of power and 630Nm of torque. (image: Richard Berry) The X5 xDrive40d has an inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which makes 230kW of power and 630Nm of torque. (image: Richard Berry)

You might not be able to hit those 0-100km/h times while hauling a trailer but the xDrive40d has a braked towing capacity of 2700kg.

If you are covering serious kays the engine in the xDrive40d makes far more sense to me than the petrol electric hybrid xDrive40e (see my review of this one) which is really for urban warriors with daily access to charging. So, is the xDrive40d thirsty? Read on to find out.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

It's hard to believe that despite pushing the xDrive40d hard on my country road loop, punishing it in Sydney traffic every day, and not using the stop-start fuel saving system all the time the on-board computer was reporting it was using an average of 10.2L/100km of diesel.

Sure, that's way higher than BMW's official 6.3L/100km, but BMW calculated that number under ideal conditions over a combination of urban and open roads.

In comparison, the xDrive40e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid has an official mileage of 3.3L/100km, but if like me you're not willing or able to charge it every day that meant my fuel consumption rocketed to 15.5L/100km. That's another reason why I'd go for the diesel over the hybrid.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

This current X5 has not be crash tested, but the previous generation which shares the same platform scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating.

Advanced safety equipment includes vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection with radar-based AEB that will brake to avoid a collision at speeds under 60km/h.

The X5 shows its age again in the safety tech department with it missing out on reverse AEB.

The 'Innovations Package' is a no-cost option adding blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control.

The X5 shows its age again in the safety tech department with it missing out on reverse AEB.

For child seats you'll find three top tether anchor points across the second row plus two ISOFIX mounts.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The X5 xDrive40d is covered by BMW's three year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is condition based, meaning the SUV will let you know when it needs to visit the doctor.

X5 owners can also purchase a five-year/80,000km service plan. The 'Basic' plan costs $1440 and the more comprehensive 'Plus' is $2900. These are also transferable to future owners.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

A 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds is impressive for something that's shaped like a brick and weighs 2.1 tonnes, but what happens when you come to the first corner?

Well, those Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT tyres (275/40 f - 315/35 r) grip hard, the adaptive M Sport suspension holds firm, and you corner flat enough to get on the power early to sling shot away. Great brakes and good pedal feel add to confident piloting, too.

Yes, you can feel the heavy weight, and the steering lacks decent feel, but the grip, suspension and the X5's ability to send 100 per cent of the drive to the rear wheels makes for a surprisingly agile SUV.

The ride is comfortable despite the big run-flat rubber, and the driving position is excellent.

Look, it's by no means as adept as the xDrive M50d or X5M which are real M cars, but it's a comfortable mid-point which allows you to go from cruiser to a bit of a bruiser without going hardcore.

The ride is comfortable despite the big run-flat rubber, and the driving position is excellent – you sit low enough to feel part of the car, but the X5's height means you still have a commanding view. In fact, visibility all around is clear, making the X5 easy to manoeuvre, despite its size, even in car parks.

A quick note about what this car's xDrive40e twin is like to drive while I'm here. Quite different. The hybrid is about 120kg heavier and the SUV I tested had considerable body roll in corners, while acceleration is about a second behind in the 0-100km/h sprint. Another couple of reasons I'd go for the 40d instead.

Verdict

Big, powerful, practical and prestigious, the xDrive40d is just what a flagship SUV should be, and that M Sport package doesn't just provide tougher looks but better performance in the handling department, too.

If you're in need of something larger then the X7 is coming soon, and so is a new-generation X5, which will arrive with more advanced safety equipment, more modern technology, a different platform and new looks.

If it was me, I'd wait for that new-gen X5 and harass my BMW dealer about when I can put my order in: Storm Trooper White or Russian Oil Oligarch Black? That's the question. M Sport package for sure.

The BMW X5 is up against some fierce rivals. Would you prefer a Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport or Benz GLE instead? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$101,445
Based on 176 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$67,990
Highest Price
$109,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M 4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $133,760 – 153,780 2018 BMW X5 2018 M Pricing and Specs
M BLACK FIRE EDITION 4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $166,540 – 191,400 2018 BMW X5 2018 M BLACK FIRE EDITION Pricing and Specs
M50d 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $112,530 – 129,360 2018 BMW X5 2018 M50d Pricing and Specs
M50d (5 SEAT) 3.0L, Diesel $134,200 – 154,220 2018 BMW X5 2018 M50d (5 SEAT) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Safety7
Ownership6
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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