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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For It's great on Tarmac and loses value more slowly than other off-roaders

Against It has only five seats and petrol engines are very thirsty. Boot is smaller than an X3, too

Verdict It drives like a 5 Series and has lots of kit, but it's ferociously expensive to own

Go for… 3.0d SE

Avoid… 4.8iS

BMW X5 4x4
  • 1. The boot isn't the biggest in its class - in fact, the smaller X3's boot is larger
  • 2. Hard-driven X5s eat through tyres, brakes and steering bushes, adding to already high running costs
  • 3. Electrical problems are the most common, followed by brakes and fuel system troubles
  • 4. Older diesels experience problems with fuel injection and cracks in the inlet manifolds
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BMW X5 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The X5 is a high-image cruiser bought for its looks rather than its off-road ability. Despite its bulk, it is easy and satisfying to drive, and most have auto gearboxes that change smoothly.

Inside, it's classic BMW: the dash is lifted from a 5 Series, albeit with a few modifications, but everything is easy to find, although some buttons are small.

Up front, comfort is spot-on: the driver's seat has electric height adjustment and the wheel adjusts in both directions, so everyone should find the spot that suits. The view out is clear, too, although most models have reversing sensors, which are very handy.

Practicality, too, is excellent. There's space in the back for three adults and, although the boot isn't the biggest, it is a good shape. Plus, the tailgate is split so that just the glass can be opened, and the lower part drops to give a flat loading platform.

The car earned a full five stars from Euro NCAP for occupant safety in a crash, but only one star for pedestrian protection.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Very specification-sensitive, needing leather and sat-nav to sell easily

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Go for the 3.0 diesel. It's smooth and has just the right low-rev punch that a car like this needs. It tips 30mpg across a mix of trips, which is 10mpg better than any of the petrols. What's more, it's the slowest depreciator of the lot.

Trim-wise, you can choose between SE or Sport. Both offer all you'd want including alloy wheels, climate control and a CD player, but we prefer the SE's lower price and softer ride.

If diesel isn't for you, there's a 3.0 petrol or a pair of V8s of 4.4 and 4.8 litres. The bigger-engined models have lavish specification including auto transmission and leather seats, but they guzzle fuel - the 4.8 manages just 13mpg on urban trips.

BMW dealers have the most choice, but the highest prices, whereas off-roader specialists stock older cars and charge a bit less, although there's no such thing as a cheap X5. Wherever you buy, condition, trim, and history must be faultless to justify the prices.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Big bills largely due to electrical faults - poor overall reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

X5s will chew through your cash. Fuel bills on any petrol model will be enormous and only the diesel offers sensible economy.

Spares cost a packet, too. Remember that, for a specialist car like this, meticulous servicing and specifying the correct brand of replacement tyres and so on are vital if you're to sell it for its maximum.

All of this means you're locked into costly BMW dealer servicing and labour rates, although most franchises offer discounts for vehicles once they reach four years old.

Insurance is hefty: group 17 for the 3.0 diesel and petrol, group 20 for the others. If you're over 30 and have an accident-free driving history, premiums may be at sensible levels – but we'd pay extra to protect that no-claims discount.

The one saving grace is that the X5 loses value over time very slowly indeed, making it a much better bet financially than most others in its price bracket.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Very specification-sensitive, needing leather and sat-nav to sell easily

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Hard-driven X5s eat through tyres, brakes and steering bushes. And, remember that with a 4x4, it is advisable to change all four tyres at once.

Older diesels experience problems with fuel injection and cracks in the inlet manifolds. They also suffer faults with the air mass sensors, which you can spot on a test drive, if the car runs poorly or there are flat spots when accelerating.

The What Car? Reliability Index, using data from Warranty Direct policy holders, shows repair bills average a nasty £477. The company has also seen an above-average number of claims.

Electrical problems are the most common, followed by trouble from the brakes and fuel system. Repairs are usually quick and straightforward, however.

Despite this, most owners writing on whatcar.com heap praise on their X5, many readily buying another come trade-in time. However, there are also a few tales that belong in the 'worst car I ever bought' file, so it pays to thoroughly check over any car before you buy.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Big bills largely due to electrical faults - poor overall reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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