Australian car buyers are remarkably enthusiastic about seven-seat SUVs at the moment…yet many might not know that the BMW X5 has the extra seating capacity available as an option.
The X5 is sometimes a bit of a forgotten commodity in the BMW range with the smaller X1 and X3 often stealing much of the attention.
That’s a shame given just how impressive the ‘Big Daddy’ of the BMW SUV range is.
When BMW first broke with tradition and started building SUVs the distinctive styling, especially of the earlier models, certainly divided opinion.
This current generation of BMW SUVs though, including the X5, sport a slightly more toned-down look and feel and I think it works really well.
I really like the big kidney grille at the front and the stylish creases in the body work. It’s aggressive, yet tame…a good mix.
Typical BMW on the inside…and I really mean that - just about every BMW has common switches and controls and the 2018 BMW X5 is no different.
You could jump out of a 1 Series, or an X1, and be completely at home due to the commonality.
Legroom up front in the big BMW SUV is very good, same in the back, while seats six and seven provide adequate space in all directions for children, or perhaps adults but only on short trips.
The design of the third-row seats in the BMW allows for better than average cargo space behind those seats - often in seven-seat SUVs you have almost no space to carry goods, luggage etc. but not so here.
The BMW also has something most of the others don’t, a split tailgate that provides you with a small door at the base of the cargo area and this helps prevent things rolling out of the cargo area (like oranges or cricket balls) when you open the tailgate.
Everything fits nicely and has a nice feel to it on the inside of the X5 and the cabin storage areas, including door pockets and glove box, are adequately sized.
Standard kit in the 2018 BMW X5 xDrive30d includes:
- Digital radio
- Powered tailgate
- Head-Up Display
- Surround View Camera System
- Professional Navigation
While my test car was fitted with extras including the ‘M Sport Package’ and this adds 20″ alloy wheels, sports seats, leather steering wheel and adaptive suspension - for an additional $3,000 it looks like a box worth ticking.
There was also a panoramic glass sunroof and ($3,800) and the aforementioned third-row seats ($3,200).
If you’re looking for me to answer the question around whether it is worth spending the extra dollars for a BMW seven-seat SUV over a more run of the mill offering I would say that what really sets them apart is the drive experience.
Most of the time when you tick the box for seven-seats you give up decent driving dynamics.
A lot of the time this is because the seven-seat offerings are more 4×4 inclined, or even built on the same platform as a dual-cab ute!
But this vehicle is different - this vehicle doesn’t ask you to give up on driving enjoyment.
The 190kW/560Nm 3.0 litre six-cylinder diesel engine is a delight. It doesn’t just give the X5 fantastic acceleration, you also have more than enough torque to get moving with ease with a full load on board.
And while you have great acceleration and general performance, being a diesel, and a smart diesel at that, the X5 won’t cost a bomb to run.
The suspension is excellent - it gives you very good handling and also helps soak up the bumps…but the low profile tyres on the 20″ wheels are a comfort compromise with very little bump absorption.
Not only are they low profile, they are also run-flat tyres and they are traditionally quite firm too.
There is no ANCAP safety rating for he 2018 BMW X5 range, however standard safety gear includes a full suite of safety gear including Autonomous Emergency Braking.
- Performance and economy despite hefty proportions
- Seven-seat option
- Standard features
- Driving dynamics
Not So Good Bits
- 20″ tyres give firm ride
- Comprehensive and expensive options list
The BMW X5 proves that having a family doesn’t mean you need to throw away the driving gloves and move to the slow lane.
A great compromise between practical and fun, the straight-six diesel engine and eight-speed auto transmission are a joy.
Even driving out of a BMW dealer with just the standard-spec car is better than adequate too, though don’t forget to tick the box for the third-row seats.