2010 BMW X5 Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

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2010 BMW X5 Buying Advice

The 2010 BMW X5 is the best luxury crossover SUV for you if you want a European people mover that’s sportier than the norm and carries BMW brand cachet.

The midsize X5 is what BMW calls a “Sports Activity Vehicle.” That’s another way of saying it’s an upscale crossover SUV. As befits its German sport-luxury roots, the emphasis is on-road performance and interior comfort rather than off-road prowess -- with traditional BMW styling completing the package. Its bigger size, including an optional third row of seats, helps differentiate the X5 from BMW’s similar-looking but smaller, X3. The X5’s performance ranges from adequate to exhilarating, depending on the version. The model range added a higher-mileage diesel-powered edition for model-year 2009. Added for 2010 is an top-of-the-line “M” version with a 555-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. Also for 2010, HD radio becomes standard and the available backup camera adds a top-view feature that gives a surrounding view of the vehicle. Automatic high-beam headlamps are newly optional and the X5 includes the latest version of BMW’s iDrive multimedia control system. Launched for the 2000 model year, the current BMW X5 belongs to the second-generation design introduced in model-year 2007.

Should you buy a 2010 BMW X5 or wait for the 2011 BMW X5? Wait for the 2011 BMW X5 to get the latest features and styling. The 2011 X5 will receive mid-cycle updates consisting mainly of powertrain revisions and moderate styling tweaks. More-powerful six- and eight-cylinder gasoline engines will be mated to a sophisticated new eight-speed automatic transmission to maximize acceleration and fuel efficiency.

2010 BMW X5 Test Drive back to top

Interior: The X5 is assembled at BMW’s plant in South Caroline, but in classic European tradition, the interior is handsome without being too dressy. A choice of genuine wood accents is available. Dashboard gauges are large and legible, and while there are a few conventional knobs and buttons to be found on the dashboard, most of the vehicle’s systems are operated via BMW’s menu-driven “iDrive” system. It’s designed to reduce button clutter and features a large LCD display mounted high in the center of the dashboard. Most operations are governed by a knob-like joystick located on the front center console between the seats. Earlier versions of iDrive had been vilified – with some justification – but this latest generation works amazingly well, in large part because BMW has added, ironically, a series of buttons positioned near the joystick as system shortcuts.

The 2010 BMW X5 features a comfortable environment for occupants of the first two seating rows. A choice of various leather treatments, heated seats first- and second-row seats, and front ventilated seats are on offer. Other optional seating choices include bolstered front sport buckets and multicontour power front seats with separate shoulder adjustments that make the seatbacks act like a big hand folding around one’s back. The second-row seats recline and slide fore and aft to allow adults of all sizes to find their comfort zone. The X5 M version is distinguished by heavily bolstered M seats up front and a unique sport steering wheel.

While the available third-row seat adds passenger-carrying flexibility, it’s sized strictly for kids. Even BMW notes that it’s accommodating only for “occupants up to approximately 5 feet, 6 inches in height.”

For cargo volume, the 2010 X5 is roughly mid-pack in its competitive set, but carrying capacity is plenty useful, especially given this vehicle’s emphasis on sport over utility. The cargo bay is impeccably finished and volume is a generous 75 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded flat. It’s 36 cubic feet behind the second row. The 23-cubic-foot space behind the third row holds a week’s groceries but not quite a family’s vacation luggage.

As befits a vehicle in this class, standard features are plentiful, with a wide array of comfort and convenience options. These include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, premium audio system, voice-activated navigation, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. There’s also a power-operated tailgate, keyless entry/push-button start, and Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone interface. An available head-up display projects pertinent readouts onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight, and a rear backup camera displays on the navigation screen a top-down view of the vehicle for easier and safer parking.

Exterior: The 2010 BMW X5 carries familiar BMW styling cues, highlighted by the automaker’s signature twin-kidney-shaped grille. In back, L-shaped LED taillight clusters wrap around and into the tailgate. The overall look is athletic and solid, but within the styling framework of a modern crossover SUV, with a tall roofline that stays fairly horizontal until sloping at about a 45-degree angle at the very rear.

Given the 2010 X5’s moderate ground clearance, entry and exiting is reasonably easy for most passengers, though running boards are available to help shorter riders climb into the cabin.

The 2010 BMW X5 M model is cosmetically distinguished by a slightly revised front-end treatment that features a bolder fascia with larger air dams; it also rides on exclusive 20-inch wheels and tires.

Driving: The 2010 BMW X5 offers a choice of four engines. The 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder in the xDrive30i delivers a just-adequate 260 horsepower and an underwhelming 225 pound-feet of torque. The 4.8-liter V-8 in the xDrive48i generates a more pleasing 350 horses with 350 pound-feet of torque, which ensures brisk launches and plenty of highway passing power on demand. A 3.0-liter “clean diesel” six-cylinder engine in the xDrive35d produces 265 horses and a robust 435 pound-feet of torque for V-8-like acceleration. A six-speed automatic transmission with auto-shift capability is included across the line.

The X5 M version ups the performance ante with a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine that generates a whopping 555 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. The automatic transmission includes a launch control feature for tire-smoking acceleration from a standing start. While costly, the X5 M can sprint 0-60 mph in around 4.5 seconds, which enables it to run with many low-slung sports cars. While it’s undeniably quick, and is imbued with cornering abilities that put most SUVs to shame, we found it a bit unnerving to drive such a large, tall, and heavy a vehicle like this as we might a Porsche 911 sports car.

BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard across the model range. It automatically dials up infinitely adjustable front-to-rear power distribution for surefootedness on wet or snowy surfaces and loosely packed dirt roads. It’s also calibrated to improve handling on dry pavement. Standard Hill Descent Control limits speed to a walking pace on sharp downgrades, while stability control adds another layer of safety by automatically adjusting the throttle and/or brakes to help keep the BMW X5 on track during extreme or emergency maneuvers. This system includes an advanced form of traction control that affords a higher level of wheel slippage before intervening to allow more enthusiastic handling on dry surfaces.

The 2010 BMW X5 also includes the advanced braking systems featured in several other BMW models. Among them, Brake Standby automatically snugs the brake pads firmly up against the rotors when the driver suddenly lifts off the accelerator, expecting that hard braking is about to occur. Brake Drying periodically brings the pads up to the rotors to keep the points of contact dry.

Exceptional structural stiffness combined with outstanding steering and suspension systems gives the X5 lively handling, at least for a family-minded crossover SUV. The automaker’s optional variable-ratio Active Steering system provides additional steering boost during extreme maneuvers for quicker handling. While it works as advertised, we find the active system tends to introduce an “artificial” feel in the process.

An optional AdaptiveDrive system combines BMW’s Active Roll Stabilization and Electronic Damping Control systems to help minimize body roll through turns, and maintain a smooth and controlled ride at all times. It includes driver-selectable modes that emphasize either a softer ride or sharper handling.

The X5 M includes a Dynamic Performance Control setup that quickens the vehicle’s cornering abilities by sending more power to the outside rear wheel through the curves.

2010 BMW X5 Prices back to top

The 2010 BMW X5’s price range is $48,475-$86,375 (prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; BMW’s fee for the 2010 X5 is $875).

The xDrive 30imodel is the most affordable entry and starts at $48,475. The X5 M is the costliest model at $86,375.

2010 BMW X5 Fuel Economy back to top

The BMW X5 xDrive3.0i is rated at 15/21 mpg (city/highway). The 2010 BMW xDrive48i is rated at 14/19 mpg, and the diesel-powered xDrive35d rates 19/26 mpg. The 555-horsepower X5 M is rated at just 12/17 mpg.

2010 BMW X5 Safety and Reliability back to top

In government crash testing, the 2010 BMW X5 rates the maximum five stars for driver protection in frontal impacts but just four stars for front-passenger protection. It receives five stars for side-impact protection for both the driver and passengers. It receives four out of five stars for rollover resistance, which is par for SUVs.

The 2010 BMW X5 received an “about average” rating for initial quality and expected reliability by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm.

2010 BMW X5 Competition back to top

Audi Q7: This roomy and comfortable crossover SUV gets a facelift for 2010 that gives it a more muscular exterior appearance. There’s a choice of an adequate 3.6-liter V-6 engine or a stronger and smoother 4.2-liter V-8. The TDI version packs a 3.0-liter “clean diesel” engine that delivers strong power with good fuel economy. All-wheel-drive is standard and there’s seating for up to seven passengers, though third-row accommodations are tight. The Q7 is a premium crossover in every regard but feels bulkier on the road than the X5. Base price is roughly $47,000-$62,000.

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class: Mercedes’ largest SUV gets a minor styling facelift inside and out for 2010. This seven-passenger wagon is a solid choice among large and luxurious people movers. It offers 335- and 382-horsepower V-8s in its GL450 and GL550 models, respectively. The GL350 BlueTec has an efficient “clean diesel” V-6 that produces V-8-like thrust. The handsome GL-Class is a bit bigger and pricier than its non-high-performance rivals within in this group, but it’s also larger inside with minivan-like third-row room. Base price is roughly $60,000-$83,500.

Porsche Cayenne: Arguably the sportiest line of SUVs on the market, the Cayenne is up to the challenge of carrying the Porsche nameplate, especially at the top of the line where its twin-turbo V-8’s horsepower rating (550) actually beats the automaker’s 911 Turbo. A 290-horsepower V-6 is standard, but it’s out of its league compared to the V-8 versions, which, depending on model offer horsepower ratings of 385, 405, 500, and the aforementioned 550. Any Cayenne is actually a competent off-roader, too, for those who can stomach scuffing up a vehicle that can cost well into six figures. Base price is roughly $46,500-$127,000.

2010 BMW X5 Next Steps