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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The BMW X5 is great to drive, spacious, well equipped and highly desirable

Against It's expensive to own, has a firm ride and the third row of seats is cramped

Verdict More Chelsea tractor than country workhorse, but the X5 makes great prestige 4x4

Go for… 3.0d SE

Avoid… 4.8i M Sport

BMW X5 4x4
  • 1. In the battle of the big 4x4s, the BMW X5 is one of the best. Sure-footed on the road and competent off it.
  • 2. The 3.0-litre diesels are the pick of the range. We'd opt for the 232bhp version over the 282bhp 3.0Sd – it's easier to find on the used market too, and it's fast and silky smooth.
  • 3. Look for cars with the optional adaptive suspension if you want to smooth out the firmer ride.
  • 4. Petrol-powered X5s don't hold their value as well as the diesel models. While this makes them cheaper to buy used, they will go on to lose money faster as they age.
  • 5. The run-flat tyres are expensive to replace, so make sure you check them before you buy.
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BMW X5 4x4 full review with expert trade views

In the battle of the big 4x4s, the BMW X5 is one of the best. Sure-footed on the road and competent off it, the X5 is a great everyday car that's comfortable and refined.

There's minimal body roll and it's surprisingly agile on twisty roads. The suspension is firm, but it doesn't result in an uncomfortable ride.

The driving position is excellent with a wide range of seat adjustments. The cabin feels well designed and intuitively laid out, using quality materials.

Passengers are cosseted from wind- road- and engine noise, so the X5 makes an ideal long-distance cruiser. Cabin space is generous, with enough room for five adults. There's also an option to add two extra seats in the boot.

Trade view

Seven seat models add some flexibility, but can cost £1000 more than cars without.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The 3.0-litre diesels are the pick of the range. We'd opt for the 232bhp version over the 282bhp 3.0Sd – it's easier to find on the used market too, and it's fast and silky smooth. Petrol powered X5s are very rare, however the 268bhp 3.0i is the more sensible option, compared with the 350bhp 4.8i version.

Towards the end of 2007, mild engine tweaks reduced emissions slightly and improved fuel economy. At the end of 2008, the range was re-labelled as the X5 xDrive. The 3.0d SE became the xDrive30d SE, and so on. The engines themselves did not change, however.

Look for cars with the optional adaptive suspension if you want to smooth out the firmer ride.

SE models come with all the prestige trappings you'd expect, including 18-inch alloys, climate and cruise controls, electric seat adjustment and parking sensors. The M Sport editions come with extras such as unique alloy wheels, tuned suspension and special leather sports seats.

It's important to have to right options on a used X5 if you want to ensure the best resale values. A leather interior is important, metallic paint is vital, and 19-inch alloys are desirable, while the Media Pack (sat-nav, Bluetooth and a CD changer) will further enhance its residuals.

The seven-seat option is also desirable, and expensive – in some cases pushing up prices by £1000 – but the two extra seats aren't protected by the side curtain airbags. They're also too small for adults to use in comfort.

Trade view

Avoid X5s with aftermarket oversized alloy wheels, the ride comfort will suffer.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Petrol-powered X5s don't hold their value as well as the diesel models. While this makes them cheaper to buy used, they will go on to lose money faster as they age.

After depreciation, fuel bills are likely to be the biggest concern. The 3.0i manages just 25.9mpg (27.7mpg after the '07 tweaks) and the 4.8i 22.6mpg (23.5mpg). The lower-powered diesel manages 32.5mpg (34.9mpg), and the higher-powered 34.4mpg (no '07 tweaks were made on this one).

CO2 emissions are high, so you're going pay heavily for road tax. Although emissions did fall towards the end of 2007, it won't make much difference to the cost of your tax disc.

Trade view

Seven seat models add some flexibility, but can cost £1000 more than cars without.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

There are some general complaints of poor cabin build quality, engine failure, engines running rough and faulty reversing sensors. Some 3.0-litre petrol engines can also require regular oil top-ups – in some cases, a litre every 1000 miles.

The run-flat tyres are expensive to replace, so make sure you check them before you buy. Also make sure they're wearing evenly, because poorly aligned wheels will give tyres a shorter lifespan.

BMW's Bluetooth system can be temperamental for some, so if you can't get it to work with your phone – it's probably just being difficult and not broken. Consult a dealer for advice.

Trade view

Avoid X5s with aftermarket oversized alloy wheels, the ride comfort will suffer.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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