The 2018 BMW X5 luxury SUV stands out with athletic manners that best rivals like the Acura MDX and Lexus RX, while boasting powertrain choices that range from gasoline and a diesel engine to a plug-in hybrid. With a starting price over $58,000, the X5’s power and cachet don’t come cheap.
You'll Like The 2018 BMW X5 If...
If you want a midsize-luxury-crossover SUV that feels more like a sports sedan than a traditional SUV, put the BMW X5 on your list. If a new diesel SUV is on your wish list, the X5 is one of just a few in this segment to still offer one (others are the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Velar).
You May Not Like The 2018 BMW X5 If...
The X5’s benefits don’t come cheap. Prices start over $58,000, and you’ll easily spend more with options. Rivals like the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90 and Infiniti QX60 can be had for much less, with that last one starting nearly $14,000 cheaper. If you regularly need a third row, wait for the 2019 BMW X7 or opt for the QX60, MDX or a full-size SUV.
Only minor updates have been made to the 2018 BMW X5. Among them are new wheel options and a revised interface for the iDrive navigation, audio and communication systems. Also, the tilting function of the rear glass in the panoramic moonroof has been removed.
All models of the BMW X5 except for the plug-in hybrid can be optioned with three rows and seating for seven, but we don’t recommend putting humans in the last row for extended periods of time. If you opt for it, you’ll probably find it best used flat to open up cargo space. The first and second rows, however, are plenty comfortable for adults of most shapes and sizes. That 2nd-row seat folds in a 40/20/40 configuration, handy for fitting long items in the middle without sacrificing a seating position. Up front, the cockpit has BMW’s familiar horizontally aligned array of buttons and knobs. As usual for a BMW, the cabin is more minimalistic than those of other luxury brands, but feels sophisticated all the same. The latest iDrive 6.0 infotainment system with its crisp, 10.2-inch touch screen is easier to use, and the controls are a snap to find and understand.
The 2018 BMW X5 luxury SUV retains its muscular yet set smooth lines, and its considerable size is proportioned well. As with its interior, the X5’s exterior style prefers clean and sharp. You won’t find ostentation here, and we think this is the kind of design that will age well like so many other BMWs. We are particularly fond of the signature twin-port "kidney" grille that flows into the headlights, and the elegant creases in the hood. You can tell the plug-in hybrid X5 from the others by its additional filler cap on the front driver’s side. This is where the electric port is located to recharge the X5’s lithium-ion battery pack.
With four different powertrains, the 2018 X5 luxury SUV has four distinct driving experiences. Broadly speaking, all have quick acceleration and nimble handling for an SUV. As with other BMWs, the X5 favors sportiness rather than a cream-puff ride, though it’s by no means uncomfortable. Starting with the base 35i model, plenty of power is on tap thanks to the standard turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. The difference is how it’s laid down: The sDrive35i is rear-wheel drive (RWD) and the only X5 as such. Drivers in Sunbelt states will do fine with this model and can save some money in the process. All other 2018 X5 models come with xDrive, BMW’s term for all-wheel drive (AWD), which provides enhanced traction for a variety of roads and weather conditions. Opting for the diesel xDrive35d grants swift acceleration and satisfying torque. The xDrive40e plug-in hybrid has the most distinct driving feel, as it can travel on gasoline, electricity alone (up to 14 miles) or both. The transitions may take some getting used to. Then there’s the xDrive50i. With its 445-horsepower turbo V8, it can blast to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and sounds gratifying doing it. If you’re still power-hungry, look to the high-performance X5 M (reviewed separately).
The 2018 BMW X5 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $58,000 for a rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i. Opting for all-wheel drive lifts that price to just over $60,000. If you want a diesel X5, plan to spend around $62,000 on a base xDrive35d. The plug-in hybrid X5, the xDrive40e, begins just under $65,000, but is eligible for a $4,668 tax credit. The V8-powered X5 xDrive50i begins around $75,000. Keep in mind these prices are before options, which can add several thousand dollars to the bottom line. At these prices, the X5 sits above rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Lexus RX, Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Velar, and Cadillac XT5. It’s not quite as much as a Porsche Cayenne. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The BMW X5’s resale value is expected to be about fair, trailing rivals like the Lexus RX and Acura MDX.
Even a base 2018 BMW X5 sDrive35i comes nicely equipped, as should be expected of an SUV costing nearly $60,000. The X5’s standard equipment includes 14-way power-operated heated front seats, navigation with a 10.2-inch high-res touch screen that's updated to the latest iDrive 6.0 system, power tailgate, power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, xenon headlights and universal garage-door opener. In addition to navigation, the basic infotainment includes a 9-speaker/205-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD player, HD Radio and a surprise: a 200-gig hard drive with 20 gigs available to store audio files. The X5 offers CarPlay compatibility, but it’s an extra $300. Android Auto is not fully integrated into BMWs at the moment, though the BMW Apps interface allows some Android-based phones to operate certain functions. All new BMWs include complimentary maintenance for three years/36,000 miles.
One notable exception on the standard-features roster is leather upholstery. On all 2018 X5 trims except the xDrive50i, you’ll have to pay an extra $1,300 for it in place of the SensaTec faux leather. Your first choice will be to pick a “line” with exterior and interior aesthetics. From there, you have a wide range of options, ranging from a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats to a night-vision assist system and surround-view cameras. Driving-assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, head-up display, active cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Two upgraded audio systems are available: a harman/kardon system or an audiophile-grade Bang & Olufsen.
The X5 offers a wide selection of powertrains in its class and suits a variety of desires and tastes. Those who appreciate green will like the xDrive40e plug-in hybrid, while those who want mean will relish the turbo V8 in the xDrive50i. In between are satisfying 6-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines.
We already liked the BMW X5's big 10.2-inch infotainment screen and intuitive scroll-and-click user interface. Now it's even better with a new touch screen, letting you either tap the screen or use the dial when it makes the most sense. Plus, the high-resolution screen is super-sharp.
Under the Hood
The sDrive35i and xDrive35i use a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 300 horsepower, while the xDrive35d uses a turbodiesel with 255 horsepower and a whopping 413 lb-ft of torque. The V8-powered xDrive50i has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 with 445 horsepower. The xDrive40e plug-in hybrid mates a 2.0-liter turbo-4 to an integrated electric motor for a total of 308 horsepower. It has an electric-only driving range of up to 14 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. There are also various drive modes to maximize efficiency or save the battery. Recharging can take a few hours and can be done on a 120- or 220-volt line. Every engine comes connected to a slick 8-speed automatic transmission, and all X5 SUVs have a start/stop function that shuts down the engine at idle. It restarts quickly enough when you lift your foot from the brake, but its intrusiveness had us reaching for the "off" button.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4/electric motor (xDrive40e)
308 horsepower (combined)
332 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 56 mpge (combined), 24 mpg (combined)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (sDrive35i and xDrive35i)
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (RWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-6 (xDrive35d)
255 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
413 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (xDrive50i)
445 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
The 2018 BMW X5 is the German automaker’s midsize-crossover SUV, slotting between the compact X3 and the forthcoming X7. Loathe to call it an SUV, the luxury brand prefers “Sports Activity Vehicle,” a designation that highlights the X5 favoring of on-road dynamics over off-road ruggedness. Indeed, compared to rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7, Lexus RX and Acura MDX, this BMW luxury-crossover SUV feels inherently athletic. Like those rivals, the X5 is filled with technology, advanced safety features and creature comforts. It also boasts a wider variety of powertrains than its competitors. With choices ranging from gasoline V6 and V8 engines to a plug-in hybrid and even a diesel, the 2018 X5 lineup is suited to a variety of tastes.