$39,764 - $70,221

2018 BMW X5 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 BMW X5 was new.


Performance: 9.1

BMW offers a choice of five distinct powertrains for the 2018 X5, and it includes all-wheel drive in all but the base trim level. This midsize SUV is sure-footed and agile, with a taut suspension that keeps body roll in check. Still, it may not be as forgiving as some would like. Fuel economy ranges from very thrifty to very thirsty.

  • "No matter what's under the hood, the X5 simultaneously provides a comfortable ride and sporty handling, and the X5's all-wheel-drive system provides extra traction in wet weather or the occasional trip off pavement." -- Edmunds
  • "All-wheel drive (AWD) makes the X5 an all-weather performer, with surprisingly good handling for such a large heavy vehicle. However, that handling means the ride isn't quite as cushy as some of its competitors." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Now in its third generation, the BMW X5 continues to be one of the top midsize luxury crossovers for those who place a premium on driving enjoyment." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

BMW puts a different turbocharged engine in each of its X5 editions. Every powertrain is hearty enough to move this midsize SUV with ease (even the standard engine and the plug-in hybrid powertrain), and all come with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The starting-level X5 sDrive35i comes with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower. Fuel economy – 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway – is typical for this segment.

The X5 xDrive35d is a diesel-powered SUV, employing a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel engine. Even though its rating of 255 horsepower is lower than that of the base engine, there's no shortage of power here. It saves you a significant amount of money in annual fuel costs over the sDrive35i, and delivers 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway.

For even greater fuel savings, there's the X5 xDrive40e iPerformance. This plug-in hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 56 mpg-equivalent. It can drive about 13 miles on all-electric power, and the lithium-ion battery fully recharges in three hours with a Level 2 charger.

Both the X5 xDrive50i and X5 M come with a 4.4-liter V8 engine, with horsepower ratings of 445 and 567, respectively. Acceleration is scorching with either – it takes the X5 M only 4 seconds to reach 60 mph, and the xDrive50i is only 0.7 seconds slower. However, this performance comes at the cost of fuel efficiency. Expect to get 14-15 mpg in the city and 19-21 mpg on the highway with a V8-powered X5.

  • "The 300-hp turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is smooth and refined and has plenty of torque. There is some slight throttle hesitation from a stop. Shifts from the automatic transmission are similarly smooth." -- Edmunds
  • "The 3.0-liter turbo inline 6-cylinder delivers smooth, strong acceleration, while the 8-speed automatic performs rapid-yet-seamless shifts. This powertrain is all most folks will ever need. The slightly pricier xDrive35d's turbodiesel engine has effortless torque and great fuel efficiency going for it. For those unafraid of thrilling acceleration and steep fuel costs, the xDrive50i's twin-turbo V8 is tremendous in so many ways." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Even the 'slow' BMW X5 is pretty quick, thanks to a lineup of five different engines that never struggle to accelerate this big luxury SUV. The entry-level X5 sDrive35i is the only rear-drive (RWD) model, and its turbocharged inline-6 easily moves it to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. The plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive40e does the same run in 6.5 seconds, as does the xDrive35d turbodiesel, meaning you don't have to choose between fuel efficiency and horsepower. However, if you only care about the latter, you have multiple options." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Handling and Braking

While the X5 speaks mostly to spirited drivers, those seeking an easygoing SUV will also be pleased by its stable, adept handling. Only the base sDrive35i is rear-wheel drive; all other editions come with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Dynamic Damper Control and a rear axle air suspension system are available, rapidly adjusting to changing road conditions. 

  • "The X5 strikes a sublime balance between comfort and control. In typical German fashion, the ride is firm, but the sophisticated dampers absorb sharp impacts expertly. Through the corners, the X5 … delivers excellent handling, particularly if the optional active-roll stabilization system is specified. High-speed stability is exemplary, with little road or wind noise. From the driver's seat, crossovers don't get much better than this." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The 2017 BMW X5 distinguishes itself from competing SUVs by delivering excellent handling that inspires confidence no matter what kind of driving you do. As a result, the ride quality is a bit stiffer than that of rivals and can feel a little busy on broken pavement, but at no time does it feel objectionably firm. For the smoothest ride, go with the standard wheel and tire combinations instead of the larger options." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Defining characteristics of BMWs are their taut handling and precise steering. If you're the kind of driver who appreciates tackling sharp turns and feeling one with the car, you'll find the X5's direct steering feel and immediate feedback addicting." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

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