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2024 BMW X5 Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
April 21, 2024
2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

BMW may be best known for decades of iconic sports sedans, but the 2000 BMW X5 was not only one of the world’s first luxury crossover SUVs – but the first to strive for, much less achieve, sporty on-road driving manners. 

These days, this focus is no longer novel, but the 2024 BMW X5 remains a mid-size luxury SUV benchmark. That’s particularly true after a new update this year freshened its styling, technology, and engines. We just spent a week testing the updated 2024 X5, which is priced from $65,200. Keep reading as we explore its pros and cons so you can see if it’s the right mid-size luxury crossover for you. 

Freshened Styling

The current-generation X5 debuted back in 2019 and only now is getting its first big update. From the outside, it’s not too dramatic. 

The X5 retains the conservatively upright shape with huge windows that it has enjoyed for the past two dozen years. (BMW provides a rakish alternative in the X5’s mechanical twin, the low-roofed X6 “SUV coupe.”) And its classic kidney-shaped grille hasn't grown bigger, unlike some newer BMWs that stretch the grille almost to the ground. The biggest difference is in the eyes – the headlights have gotten slimmer and subtly more menacing. But they’re still not as squinty as the larger BMW X7 or some other new models. Other tweaks include simplified bumpers and new taillights with darker-red coloring and more intricate patterns, in line with the smaller BMW X3. Overall, the X5 remains an attractively conservative SUV that avoids going over the top, yet that still clearly looks like a BMW. Our test vehicle’s Blue Ridge Mountain Metallic paint job also keeps it looking gentle. 

2024 BMW X5  ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Next-Generation Interior

You might have to squint to spot the exterior changes to this year’s new X5, but the interior overhaul is hard to miss. Like BMW did last year with the larger X7, it took the X5 fully digital with its next-generation infotainment. 

Last year’s X5 already had a big infotainment screen and a digital gauge cluster, but it kept them housed in separate cowls. Now, both screens are part of a single glass plane stretching across two-thirds of the dashboard. BMW also stripped out two rows of dashboard buttons, relegating nearly everything to the touchscreen, voice commands, and the multifunction dial between the front seats. (There is still a dashboard knob for audio volume, which we welcome.) The BMW “iDrive 8” infotainment system works well, with a simpler, less showy interface than many rival systems. And it supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Still, a few more buttons would be nice so we wouldn’t have to go through touchscreen menus to turn on the seat heaters or adjust the climate settings. And the gear selector has become a small switch. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Superlative Engines

The X5 has always had exceptional engines, and this year, they got even better. The base engine is an updated version of last year’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder, now making 375 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. With the help of newly added mild-hybrid electric assistance, this “40i” powertrain whips the SUV to 60 mph in a silky-smooth 5.3 seconds. This engine and eight-speed automatic transmission are superbly tuned to respond naturally whether you’re driving gently or hard. 

This year also brought an upgraded “50e” plug-in hybrid. It adds a potent electric motor to the same six-cylinder engine for a total of 483 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, and you can charge it up to travel its first 40 miles using fully electric power. This year’s more powerful electric motor means you won’t have to feather the throttle to keep from needing the gas engine, though it can still fire up under full throttle for a 4.6-second 0-60 sprint. When efficiency isn’t a priority, the X5 has a choice of two mighty V8 engines: the 523-hp M60i (a renamed version of last year’s M50i) and the 617-hp X5 M. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Sporty Yet Easy

The X5 40i returns incredible efficiency for such a fast SUV: 23 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. That’s 2 mpg better than last year and 3 to 5 mpg better than most similarly powerful rivals. We matched that 25 mpg estimate during our weeklong test in a mix of driving modes, including the customizable Eco Pro. The 50e dips to 22 mpg once it exceeds its all-electric range, likely because you’re pulling around a heavy battery, but that’s 2 mpg better than last year’s old 45e. The V8-powered M60i and X5 M also got new mild-hybrid assistance this year, but they manage just 19 mpg and 15 mpg, respectively. 

As we observed while accelerating the 40i, the X5 is sporty yet also easy to drive. The steering is light and natural when you’re just tooling around, yet the SUV has high handling limits if you do choose to push it. We found the Audi Q7 to have even crisper responses, but the X5 still delivers handling that’s a cut above most mid-size SUVs. It rides pretty smoothly and quietly as well, just like you’d expect from a luxury vehicle – not extra cushy, but not too stiff. The M has a racetrack-ready performance suspension, along with a ride quality and six-figure price tag to match. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Comfortable Seating

The X5 also has the comfort of a luxury car. Our test vehicle was trimmed in intricately patterned Sensafin (BMW’s name for its convincing blend of synthetic leather), and we appreciated its supportive front seats and extra-cushy head restraints. Our X5 included the $750 20-way-adjustable “multi-contour seats” for extra adjustability. In addition to the standard heated front seats, it also had ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and even heated front armrests. As on some other BMWs, though, we found ourselves almost caught in the face when we opened the front door – the windowframe is angled toward the rear of the car, bringing the corner pointing outward. 

In the back, the X5 has room for adults, though with less space to stretch out than a Mercedes-Benz GLE or Audi Q7. Even a compact BMW X3 has nearly identical legroom to the mid-size X5. BMW sometimes offers the X5 with a small third-row seat that can be useful in a pinch, but nearly all X5s are sold as two-row five-passenger vehicles. BMW steers customers seeking three rows to the larger X7, but you can also get third-row seating without the extra bulk in a Volvo XC90, Acura MDX, or Mercedes-Benz GLE. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Boxy Cargo Hold

While many luxury SUVs are low and sleek, the boxy X5 delivers a conveniently boxy cargo hold with ample space. By the numbers, you get 33.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 72.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down, which is good for a mid-size luxury crossover. A good-sized cargo compartment lives under the floor, and the hydraulic-assist cargo floor holds itself up out of the way while you access it. Towing capacity is a whopping 7,200 pounds. 

The X5 has a handy split tailgate with a larger section that lifts up and a smaller section that drops down, both via power operation. The lower section can serve as a seat while folded down, and it keeps your cargo from falling out of the car when you open the tailgate. It also creates a smooth flush surface for sliding in your stuff. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Expensive, But Not the Most Expensive

As we mentioned, the 2024 BMW X5 starts at $65,200. That’s for a six-cylinder rear-wheel-drive model. All-wheel drive starts at $67,500, and the AWD-only 50e plug-in hybrid starts at $72,500. (Unlike in past years, the plug-in X5 doesn’t qualify for federal tax incentives.) The V8-powered M60i and M models, also sold only with AWD, start at $89,300 and $122,300. 

Standard features include GPS navigation, a panoramic sunroof, and heated front seats with memory. You don’t have to pay extra just to get the luxury basics. Our AWD test vehicle came to $80,145 with options and the modest $995 destination charge. Key add-ons included the Executive Package ($4,450) for an even bigger moonroof, a Harmon Kardon stereo, a head-up display, and soft-close doors; the Driving Assistance Pro Package ($2,100) with adaptive cruise control and automatic steering assistance; and the Climate Comfort Package ($1,350) with four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, and heating for the rear seats, steering wheel, and front armrests. As we’ll discuss shortly, this pricing puts the X5 in a middle tier between less expensive, less sophisticated mid-size crossovers like the Lexus RX and ultra-high-end rivals like the Porsche Cayenne. 

2024 BMW X5 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

X5 vs. the Competition

At first glance, the X5 costs thousands more than an Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Genesis GV80, or Volvo XC90. On the other hand, the X5 comes standard with a six-cylinder engine that’s optional (or, in the Volvo’s case, unavailable) on the competition. If you’d be skipping a base four-cylinder, prices even out. Unlike these rivals, the X5 isn’t typically available with a third-row seat. But it beats all of them for gas-only fuel efficiency while also offering an excellent plug-in hybrid, and it has sportier handling than all but the Audi. 

The Acura MDX, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX, and Lincoln Nautilus are all alternatives that can cost upwards of $15,000 less, but none of them approaches the X5’s balance of coddling luxury with sporty performance. The Acura has some of the latter and the Lincoln, newly redesigned this year, has plenty of the former. The rest excel on neither front, at least in comparison to the X5. One lower-cost alternative that impressed us more is the posh, spacious, and fun-to-drive Mazda CX-90, though its infotainment system is generations behind BMW’s. To the other extreme, the Porsche Cayenne and Maserati Grecale have an even greater performance focus than the X5 at even higher prices. 

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

The BMW Difference

By some metrics, the 2024 BMW X5 fails to deliver enough bang for the buck. To someone who goes home happy in a Cadillac XT5 or Lexus RX 350, BMW might just be charging an exorbitant premium for its brand name. 

But if you value the BMW difference, the X5 is worth the money. It has a higher tier of mechanical sophistication, technological advancement, and driving pleasure. It can go effortlessly fast whether you’re in a straight line or tackling a curve, yet it’s still roomy enough to carry five adults and their luggage. Not everyone will love the screen-focused new interior, and some families will expect the option for a third-row seat in a mid-size SUV. But the X5 nails the balance of performance, efficiency, and opulence, justifying its price tag. 

2024 BMW X5  ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW X5 ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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