The V8 petrol versions are great if you've got money to burn, but if you live in the real world, you'll want one of the diesels. The 241bhp 30d is our favourite – it's the cheapest version, it's plenty quick enough and running costs are reasonable. The 40d and M50d versions have more power and are almost as economical, but they’re much pricier to buy.
The X5 is brilliant on the road and reasonably competent off it, though you’d best not try anything too adventurous. On Tarmac, it feels so planted and sharp it’s easy to forget you’re in an 4x4. The ride can be firm on rough surfaces, but the optional Adaptive Drive set-up corrects that while making the car even more stable through corners.
Silky engines, a slick automatic gearbox and excellent cabin insulation make the X5 a quiet and calm car to travel in. There’s a bit of wind noise over the roof and around the big door mirrors at motorway speed, but that’s about the only disturbance to speak of. The super-wide tyres on sportier models do kick up more road noise, though.
Big, posh 4x4s don't come cheap, so you won't pick up an X5 for peanuts. That's not to say that you can't get the price down at all, though, and because residual values are strong for this sort of car, it'll protect your investment well. Running costs are really good by class standards, too, thanks to impressive fuel economy and low emissions.
Quality materials beautifully assembled give the X5 an air of limousine class, and BMWs are generally sound. However, there are some concerns: in the 2012 JD Power survey, for instance, owners rated the car's reliability as below average.
It's shameful that if you order an X5 with seven seats the two people in the back aren’t protected by the side curtain airbags. Other than that, the X5 gets a clean bill of health on the safety front, and BMWs are generally good at keeping thieves out, too.
There’s not a lot to criticise here. The huge amount of adjustment for the driving position and the supportive seats makes it easy to get comfortable, and visibility is pretty good in all directions. The dashboard controls are pretty easy to get to grips with, and the infotainment system has an intuitive interface.
The X5 gets five seats as standard, all of which are surrounded by generous space for tall adults. You get a huge boot in this form, too. You can specify seven seats as an option, and the two at the very back are roomy enough to cope with small adults. You still get half-decent boot space when you’re seven-up, too.
All the on- and off-road traction and stability aids are standard along with all the other luxury gadgets you'd expect. Options include parking cameras at the front and rear and in the mirror housings, foglamps that shine around corners and a head-up display of speed and navigation information. The M Sport model is available with sports add-ons such as unique alloy wheels, tweaked suspension and special seats.
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The xDrive30d is our favourite X5. We'd rather save a few pounds and take this SE, but if you prefer the aggressive looks of the M Sport, we wouldn't blame you.