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2016 BMW X5: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

The 2016 BMW X5 continues to be one of the best premium midsize-crossover choices. It really has something for everyone -- at least, everyone who can afford it. For the family, there's ample security and safety equipment, road-trip ride quality and extra seating for little ones. For the enthusiast, the X5 drives like a big 5,000-lb crossover shouldn't: with precision, poise and punch.

Drivetrains range from frugal to fire-breathing, technology fans will find plenty to engage with, and there's that undeniable prestige of a luxury German marque.

What's New for 2016?

This model year sees the introduction of a new variant: the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e. It's a plug-in hybrid.

What We Like

Outstanding diesel fuel economy; sumptuous interior; responsive handling; fully modern technology; third-row seat availability

What We Don't

One of the priciest upscale midsize crossovers; third row is pretty cramped; limited cargo capacity

How Much?

$54,895-$71,695

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i and all-wheel-drive xDrive35i use a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the sDrive35i is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined. The xDrive35i achieves 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy and 20 mpg combined.

The all-wheel-drive xDrive35d has a diesel-powered turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that generates 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. At the time of writing this, there were no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures for the 2016 model, although the agency has cleared it for sale following an inspection for any emissions-cheating software (in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel debacle). The 2015 35d was rated at an impressive 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy and 27 mpg combined.

A twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 in the all-wheel-drive xDrive50i develops a muscular 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy and 17 mpg combined.

The new kid, the xDrive40e plug-in hybrid, combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor for a total of 308 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. In all-electric mode, range is around 13 miles. A complete recharge is estimated to take less than 3 hours using a 240-volt supply. This extra hardware, including a lithium-ion battery pack, adds more than 200 pounds to the curb weight. But according to the EPA, the 40e can still achieve the equivalent of 56 mpg, along with 24 mpg combined using gas only.

All X5 variants have an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The X5 is available as the sDrive35i (the s signifies rear-wheel drive), xDrive35i, xDrive35d, xDrive50i and xDrive40e.

The sDrive35i ($54,895) comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED fog lights, a roof spoiler, a power tailgate, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a universal garage door opener, a power-adjustable steering wheel, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power front seats (heated) with driver memory functions, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a 9-speaker audio system (including two subwoofers) and the iDrive infotainment system with navigation, 20 gigabytes of audio storage and a 10.2-in high-resolution screen.

The xDrive35i ($57,195) adds all-wheel drive, hill-descent control and eligibility for the Dynamic Handling package, which includes adaptive dampers, active roll resistance and a rear air suspension.

The xDrive35d ($58,695) substitutes the diesel engine but is otherwise equipped similarly to the xDrive35i.

Arriving October 3, 2016, the xDrive40e ($63,095) should come with quite high levels of standard equipment, although it won't be able to get some options such as the sportier M suspension.

The xDrive50i ($71,695) upgrades to the twin-turbo V8 and adds chrome exterior accents, metallic paint, keyless entry and ignition, 20-way multicontour front seats, leather upholstery, quad-zone climate control, the 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, satellite radio and a rearview camera. Most of the xDrive50i's standard extras are offered on other models as options.

Add-on bundles include the Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and heated headlight washers), the Lighting package (LED adaptive headlights with automatic high beams) and the Driver Assistance Plus package (see the Safety section below).

Other options include 20-in wheels, active steering, automated parking assist, soft-close doors, a head-up display, Nappa leather upholstery, adjustable second-row seats, the top-of-the-line Bang & Olufsen audio system (with a motorized center speaker that rises to the occasion) and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin 9.2-in monitors, adaptive cruise control and a third-row seat (which comes with the rear air suspension). There are also Luxury Line, xLine and M Sport trim packages, with distinctive aesthetics and numerous customization possibilities.

Cargo space measures 23 cu ft. behind the second-row seats and 66 cu ft. with the rear seatbacks folded down. That's less room than most midsize crossovers provide (and not much more than BMW's X3 compact crossover). Normally, hybrid vehicles are expected to offer less cargo space, but BMW quotes 34.2 and 72.5 cu ft. for the 40e.

Safety

The X5 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). The standard BMW Assist telematics system provides automatic crash notification, emergency assistance and more.

An optional Driver Assistance Plus package adds a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, a collision-mitigation system with full auto-stop capability, a driver-drowsiness monitor and a 360-degree safety camera system. An infrared night-vision system with pedestrian detection is also offered.

In government crash tests, the 2016 sDrive35i took the maximum of five stars overall, with five stars each for front- and side-impact tests and four for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the X5 top scores for the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests and for the optional collision-mitigation system.

Behind the Wheel

Tight seams on the dashboard and consistently high-quality materials are typical of the X5's premium credentials. The wood trim on the dash curves gracefully toward the passenger-side A-pillar, while the 10.2-in iDrive display lives in an iPad-like housing that protrudes above the center stack. The iDrive system also has BMW's latest rotary controller with touchpad functionality for a genuinely user-friendly interface.

The standard front seats are supportive and great. However, we're strong advocates of the available multicontour seats. With seemingly infinite adjustments, plus an uncanny combination of firmness and compliance, these 20-way multis are among the best in any vehicle. We also like the optional adjustable second-row seats, though sadly they can't be ordered with the third-row seat. As for that third row, it's nice that BMW continues to offer it, but most adults will find it cramped and uncomfortable. The X5 is more of a 5+2 crossover than a genuine 7-seater.

The 3.0-liter turbo inline-6 delivers smooth, strong acceleration, while the 8-speed automatic performs rapid yet seamless shifts. This powertrain is all most folks will ever need. Our favorite, though, is the slightly pricier xDrive35d's turbodiesel engine with its effortless torque and great fuel efficiency. For those unafraid of thrilling acceleration and steep fuel costs, the xDrive50i's twin-turbo V8 is tremendous in so many ways.

The X5 strikes a sublime balance between comfort and control. In typical Germanic fashion, the ride is firm, but the sophisticated dampers absorb sharp impacts expertly. Through the corners, the X5's sedan-derived platform (5 Series) delivers excellent handling, particularly if the optional active roll-stabilization system is specified. High-speed stability is exemplary, with little road or wind noise. From the driver's seat, crossovers don't get much better than this.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Acura MDX -- The third-row seat is also pretty tight, but you get more for your money overall.

2016 BMW X6 -- Yes, this is essentially the same as the X5. But just in case you didn't need quite so much rear-passenger and cargo space and would prefer something with more out-there styling, consider the X6.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class -- The luxury crossover formerly known as the M-Class is refreshed and offers a similar range of models to the X5 and X6.

2016 Porsche Cayenne -- The Porsche Cayenne doesn't have the X5's 3-row versatility but delivers awesome performance and undeniable Porsche cachet.

2016 Volvo XC90 -- It's not particularly a driver's machine, but the XC90 comes with its own cool factor and lots of tech. Integrated child booster seats are available.

Used Land Rover Range Rover -- There's nothing like a Range Rover, and a pristine low-mileage example can be acquired for the price of a new X5.

Autotrader's Advice

As long as you don't mind dealing with greasy pump handles from time to time, the xDrive35d's blend of strong torque and family-sedan fuel economy makes it a fine choice.

Find a BMW X5 for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 BMW X5: New Car Review - Autotrader