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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2017 BMW X5
For nearly two decades, the BMW X5 has been a stalwart among luxury SUVs, competing as a sportier alternative to rivals from Porsche or Mercedes-Benz. Now in its third generation, the X5 remains at the top of the class, not only for athleticism but its choice of six powertrains, too.
The SUV’s base trim delivers 300 horsepower using a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and comes with a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The xDrive50i trim gets a 445-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, and the SUV’s high-performance M badge delivers 567 horsepower. A diesel variant delivers 255 horsepower with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine. An all-electric model gets a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine that delivers 308 horsepower.
Inside, the cabin is decked in leather trim and wood accents. The base model seats five passengers, but buyers who need more space can opt for the $1,700 seating package that adds a third row, boosting capacity to seven. Two USB ports, Bluetooth, navigation, and the brand’s iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-inch touch screen come standard. BMW has introduced an available Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless device charging for the 2017 model year. Note that buyers who have time to spare might choose to wait for the release later this year of the 2018 model, which ushers the BMW X5 into its fourth generation with a full redesign.
The BMW X5 received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and superior scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its crash avoidance and mitigation equipment. The X5 comes standard with parking sensors. A rearview camera and head-up display come with the brand’s optional $1,400 Driver Assistance Package. The $1,700 Driver Assistance Plus package adds blind spot detection and other advanced safety features.
What the experts are saying
An extensive, sporty lineup
“Although the 2017 BMW X5 is called a ‘sports-activity vehicle’ or SAV by its maker, we know a luxury SUV when we see one. Going head-to-head against the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GLE, the 2017 X5 emphasizes the ‘sport’ part of sport-utility vehicle. The resulting lineup of luxury SUV models includes a hybrid, a diesel, and even a fire-breathing M version, all of which are fun to drive. The X5 is big, but still midsize, so it’s easy to manage through traffic and parking lots, while remaining roomy and comfortable.” – Keith Buglewicz, senior associate editor, KBB.com
Still undergoing safety tests
“The Institute hasn’t fully tested the BMW X5. In our moderate overlap front and side impact tests, the X5 earns the highest rating of good. It also earns a superior rating for front crash prevention when equipped with its optional forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking system. However, it hasn’t yet been through our small overlap front test, roof strength test, rear impact evaluation, or our new headlight evaluation. Sometimes manufacturers will nominate vehicles for testing if they know from their own internal tests that the vehicle will likely earn Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+. BMW hasn’t done that with the X5 even though this generation has been around since the 2014 model year. It probably means the current X5 wouldn’t qualify for our highest safety designations. But there’s a redesign around the corner for the 2018 model year. Since this is a popular model, we’ll likely test the new version when it’s available.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
A customer favorite
“I don’t think you’ll find a better all-wheel drive system on the market than the X5. Visually, it’s the best marriage you’ll see between form and function. It’s got such a presence on the road, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. A huge percentage of our business goes to the X5 and X3 (the X5’s compact counterpart). The X5 has a little more of a masculine, aggressive look to it, and it has more interior space with the third row in the back. But the backseat is a little cramped for adults; it’s really for children unless you’re an adult who’s 5’5” or under.” – Melissa Steffy, general manager at Herb Chambers BMW