- Potent and efficient engines
- Luxurious and comfortable interior
- Huge list of features
- Steadfast high-speed stability
- Third-row seat is strictly for little kids
- Higher price than many competing luxury crossover SUVs
Back at the turn of the century, the BMW X5 was one of the few luxury SUVs available. Since then, it has continually been a go-to choice for shoppers who want their SUV to drive more like a sport sedan than a truck. The 2015 BMW X5, fresh off a redesign last year, stays true to that formula that honors the performance soul of the company while still providing the all-weather capability, added cargo space and elevated driving position that's of such great appeal to crossover owners.
That sporty soul comes by way of a well-sorted suspension that manages to provide confident handling abilities along with a quiet, supple ride over pockmarked city streets and freeways. Rapid acceleration is on tap as well, regardless of whether one chooses the "base" turbocharged inline-6, the turbocharged V8 or the diesel-fueled turbocharged six-cylinder. The latter also delivers impressive fuel economy, rating an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in combined driving.
As far as practicality, the X5 features a second-row seat that's split into three sections for enhanced cargo-carrying utility. Unlike a few of its chief rivals, the X5 is also available with a third-row seat, albeit one that's strictly for kids. Of course, luxury features galore are available, too, including "multicontour" seats that adjust every which way but loose, as well as different design themes for a bit of extra personalization.
This big BMW does face plenty of competition in the luxury crossover SUV segment. From a family-hauling standpoint, the 2015 BMW X5 isn't the best choice, as less expensive rivals such as the 2015 Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 offer a much more accommodating third row. And if it's performance you're after, the 2015 Range Rover Sport and 2015 Porsche Cayenne are also excellent choices. But overall, we think very highly of the BMW X5 and gave it an "A" rating. As always, this BMW stands as a benchmark for a luxury crossover with its undeniable presence, power and refinement.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
For 2015, the BMW X5 sees a minor shuffling of equipment as well as a tweaking of its transmission that results in slight improvements to fuel efficiency and performance.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 BMW X5 comes in three main trim levels: 35i, 35d and 50i, which essentially indicate what's under the hood. All have all-wheel drive (xDrive), though there is also a rear-drive version of the 35i available (sDrive).
Standard equipment for the 35i and 35d includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar) and driver memory settings. Electronic features include BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 10.2-inch central display screen, the iDrive controller, a navigation system, voice controls, traffic reporting and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack and HD radio.
The X5 xDrive50i is equipped very similarly, though it has 19-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, 16-way power (multicontour) front seats and a rearview camera as additional standard features.
Naturally, a wealth of option packages is available to further customize your X5. Starting things off are three optional equipment lines -- Luxury, xLine and M Sport -- that include different wheel designs (up to 20 inches), color schemes and trim and upholstery types. M Sport also includes sport front seats and shift paddles for the transmission.
From here, the Premium package adds keyless ignition and entry (35i and 35d), four-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and leather upholstery (35i and 35d). The Luxury Seating package gets you the multicontour front seats (35i and 35d) with added ventilation. The Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
The Driver Assistance package features a rearview camera and a head-up display (35i and 35d). To this, the Driver Assistance Plus package adds adaptive cruise control and a variety of safety features highlighted in the below Safety section. The Dynamic Handling package (xDrive models only) adds an enhanced all-wheel-drive system and a body roll mitigation feature for improved road holding. Adjustable suspension dampers are available and bundled with a rear air suspension.
Some of these features like the rearview camera and multicontour seats are available as stand-alone options. Other X5 options include active steering (xDrive only), an adaptive suspension (no-cost xDrive), automated parking assist, soft-close automatic doors, upgraded and/or extended leather upholstery, upgraded interior trim, enhanced USB and Bluetooth plus smartphone app integration, rear window manual sunshades, second-row comfort seats and a third-row seat (includes the rear air suspension). You can also order a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system or a substantially more expensive 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system. Lastly, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system are available.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
As with most BMWs, the X5's interior layout is elegant, with solid construction and high-quality materials. Models with the upgraded and extended leather options are particularly impressive. From the driver seat, you're presented with classic BMW gauges and a large central display screen with crisp graphics. The standard front seats are ideally shaped and adjust for a wide range of body types, while the optional multicontour seats are some of the most comfortable and adjustable seats found in any car.
The iDrive interface works well for controlling and adjusting all of the X5's systems, and even includes a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten navigation inputs. Still, iDrive typically takes a few more clicks and twists of the control knob to get what you want compared to some rival systems that are easier to use.
Utility can also be a concern. The second-row seats are comfortable, but legroom is merely adequate. The optional third row is cramped and will be a tight fit, even for children. With both rows folded, cargo space measures 66 cubic feet, which is about average for the segment and barely better than BMW's smaller X3. One distinct attribute of the X5 continues to be its split two-section liftgate. The lower, smaller section pulls down flat, making it easy to sit on for tailgating.
Every 2015 BMW X5 includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Also standard are the BMW Assist and Remote Services emergency communications systems, which provide automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote lock/unlock and on-demand roadside assistance. The optional Driver Assistance package adds a rearview camera and a head-up display, while the Driver Assistance Plus package adds to those items blind-spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning (including pedestrians), speed limit info and a collision mitigation system that can apply the vehicle's brakes automatically to prevent or minimize a head-on impact at low speeds.
In a simulated panic stop from 60 mph, the X5 xDrive35i took 122 feet, which is an average distance for the segment.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the X5 earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test and the side-impact test. The performance of the optional collision mitigation system earned the top "Superior" rating.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The sDrive35i (rear-wheel drive) and xDrive35i (all-wheel drive) models feature a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. As with all other X5s, it comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while all xDrive versions feature hill descent control.
The EPA estimates the sDrive35i's fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway). The xDrive version is just slightly lower at 21 mpg combined (18/27). BMW claims that the sDrive 35i (and xDrive 35i) can sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, which would place it at the top of its class.
The xDrive35d features a diesel-powered 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates the 35d will return a very impressive 27 mpg combined (24/31). BMW estimates its 0-60 performance in 6.7 seconds.
The xDrive50i gets a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. At the pump, you're looking at 17 mpg combined (15/22). BMW puts its 0-60 capability at a very swift 4.9 seconds.
Properly equipped, the X5 can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
The 2015 BMW X5 is one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers around. Whether driving on back roads or on an endless expanse of interstate, the X5 is a champ, feeling secure and stable, yet also relatively fun to drive. Road and wind noise are pleasantly muted, but buyers looking for a Lexus-like comfy-couch ride may find this Bimmer a bit firm (especially with the optional 20-inch wheels).
Engine performance is strong throughout the lineup, even with the base six-cylinder. The turbocharged V8 is a beast, and acceleration isn't that far off from the previous generation's gonzo X5 M model. But our favorite is the 35d's diesel six-cylinder. Its prodigious torque output gives you quick acceleration around town, yet it's still strong enough for easy passing on the highway. The high fuel economy is just a fantastic bonus.
Thanks to its well-rounded nature, the 2015 BMW X5 is a top choice for a luxury crossover SUV, especially if performance is a priority.