When it comes to midsize luxury SUVs, the 2021 BMW X5 is one of the best offerings in the segment. It's been that way since it debuted and has only got better over time. It's available with a choice of two 3.0-liter turbocharged engines, one of which is a proper hybrid, along with a detuned version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 found in the X5 M. Output starts at 335 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque for the base model X5 which can be had with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the M50i's V8 develops 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid model, meanwhile, offers up to 30 miles of all-electric range. With so many options, the X5 range aims to cater to everyone, from the school-run chauffeur to the performance enthusiast and the environmentally conscious. But with competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and Audi Q7 providing stiffer competition than ever before, is the X5 still the king?
For 2021, the new BMW X5 sees the model lineup altered slightly with the xDrive50i model being dropped and the addition of the plug-in hybrid xDrive45e, while the 40i models are also bolstered by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. All new models also get SiriusXM satellite radio with 360L as standard for the 2021 model year while the M50i model gets ventilated front seats and remote start as standard too. Numerous other small changes have been made to the optional packages and stand-alone features.
The exterior of the X5 is dominated at the front by large kidney grilles that are flanked on either side by Icon adaptive full-LED adaptive headlights. LED fog lights also feature while the front fenders are home to slim vents. The rear houses adaptive brake lights, a faux diffuser, and dual-exit exhaust outlets. Roof rails and a panoramic moonroof are standard too, along with 19-inch wheels on all but the M50i model that wears 20s. 21-inch and 22-inch wheels are also available. The M50i model also gets a unique M Sport body kit and Shadowline exterior trim, lending it a more aggressive demeanor.
The X5 is a fairly large SUV with dimensions that include a length of 194.3 inches and a width of 78.9 inches. The wheelbase measures 117.1 inches and height is pegged at 68.7 inches. Curb weight starts at 4,828 pounds on the base model and 4,863 lbs on the xDrive40i. The V8-powered M50i weighs at least 5,260 lbs while the hybrid variant - which we go into in more detail separately - is the heaviest with a starting weight measurement of 5,672 lbs.
As usual, the only no-cost colors available on the base variant are Alpine White and Jet Black, but you do get access to one of seven metallic hues if you're willing to spend $550 more. These are Carbon Black, Black Sapphire, Dark Graphite, Mineral White, Phytonic Blue, Arctic Grey, and Manhattan Green. Carbon Black requires adding the M Sport package, which raises the overall increase in price to $6,300. The M50i variant doesn't have access to Jet Black, but regular metallic options are free here, as is the Carbon Black as this variant already has the M Sport package equipped by default. Dark Graphite and Manhattan Green aren't offered either, but instead, you get access to special colors like Tanzanite Blue II and Ametrin for $1,950 each.
When you see a BMW badge, even on an SUV, you expect better performance from it than, say, a Volkswagen Atlas. That's not exactly a fair comparison, but in this respect, the X5 does not disappoint, no matter which of its configurations you choose. The two 40i models are each powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six turbocharged engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid electric system. These RWD and AWD models produce 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque, enabling them to launch from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and continue on to a top speed of 130 mph as standard, although the limiter can be moved to 151 when performance tires are fitted. Interestingly, the hybrid 45e variant with its 3.0-liter straight-six turbo and electric motor matches the regular X5 for acceleration despite its increased weight. This motor combination produces a total of 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. In electric-only mode, this model can do up to 84 mph and has a range of 30 miles but can only do a maximum of 146 mph with the aid of the gasoline engine and, once again, if performance tires are fitted. If you want real BMW thrills from your X5 though, you're going to want the M50i model. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, this racy variant can get to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, although top speed is again limited to 130 mph as standard with the option of 155 mph as the new limit setting it slightly apart from its lesser siblings. It's not all about the power though, and the M50i's upgraded differential, exhaust, brakes, and suspension make it a lot of fun to drive. Properly equipped, all X5 variants can tow up to 7,200 lbs - putting them below the Audi Q7 that can pull up to 7,700 lbs.
The base variant of the X5 is the RWD sDrive40i with a 3.0-liter turbo-six that produces 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. It is aided by a 48-volt mild-hybrid electric system and sends all of its power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, like all other models in the range. This powerplant is shared with the xDrive40i model where it produces the same output, but on the xDrive model, output is split between both axles. Despite the considerable mass of both variants, the regular X5 accelerates well from a stop and has a smooth way of delivering power that doesn't feel laggy at all, although the very top end of the rev range can be a bit straining.
The xDrive M50i model is the sportiest in the lineup and uses a similar engine to the V8 found in many full-on M products like the M5 and X5 M. However, here, the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 generates an impressive 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and while the regular X5 models feel a little dead on top, the M50i feels alive throughout the rev range. This model is only offered as an AWD variant, but despite the added weight of such a system, there's no feeling of lethargy when driving this SUV. Overtaking maneuvers are executed with ease regardless of which gear you're in, and the tone of that engine coupled with its performance simply encourages you to risk an awkward conversation with your local state trooper.
As expected, the hybrid version is a little more sedate than the M50i, but it's no less impressive than any other X5. Like the base variants, this xDrive45e model comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. Here, it develops 282 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque on its own while the electric motor generates 111 hp and 77 lb-ft of torque. In total, BMW says the hybrid produces 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, which makes it more than capable of accelerating and cruising with ease, although you won't be able to accelerate as easily as in the V8. Regardless of which model you choose, the eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to each is simply sublime, proving both smooth and decisive with quick responses regardless of what you ask of it.
The experience of driving a BMW is always about more than just raw power and acceleration - it needs to handle well too. With its lofty ride height and bulky mass, one may be forgiven for thinking that the X5 would be exceptional for all the wrong reasons, but despite its size, it handles brilliantly for an SUV. The steering is direct and sharp and the driving dynamics control system does an excellent job of giving you exactly what you want. In Sport mode, it stiffens things up to reduce body roll and lean while Comfort will absorb bumps big and small with ease, ensuring that you arrive at your destination after a long drive feeling relaxed. When you want to slow down, the brakes are more than adequate for the task and slow the large SUV down with ease, while the standard fitment of a launch control system on all models ensures that you can get back up to speed in a flash. As you'd expect, the M-tuned M50i model is even better to drive thanks to retuned suspension, a throatier exhaust, better brakes, and an M Sport differential. However, all models suffer from a slight lack of feel from the steering wheel, although this is not uncommon among modern SUVs.
Unsurprisingly, the hybrid xDrive45e variant of the X5 gets the best gas mileage. According to the EPA, this model will achieve 50 MPGe on the combined cycle as a hybrid and 20 mpg with just the gas engine running. BMW claims that the 24 kWh battery will provide 30 miles of all-electric range and can be recharged to 80 percent on a level 2 3.7 kW charger in four hours. From empty to full, it'll take around 5.3 hours. With an 18.2-gallon gas tank, you can expect around 364 miles of range with mixed gas driving based only on the gas engine's consumption figure. The other models in the lineup get a bigger 21.9-gallon gas tank. The sDrive40i model will return 21/26/23 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles while the xDrive40i model will fare worse by 1 mpg on the highway cycle. The thirstiest model is the V8 M50i that promises just 16/22/18 mpg and a mixed driving range of around 394 miles, while the 40i variants should do just over 500 miles.
The interior of the X5 is stunningly crafted as always. Build quality is right up there with the very best and the design is both modern and a tribute to classic BMW cabins of yore. A 12.3-inch driver info display sits behind a leather-clad steering wheel while a central 12.3-inch touch display handles infotainment. Soft-touch materials and SensaTec faux leather adorn most models as standard while the M50i variant gets genuine Vernasca leather instead. Regardless of which model you're in, there's plenty of space and the seats are both comfortable and supportive, ensuring that the ambiance feels luxurious and homely at the same time. Other features like standard heated seats on all variants add to the X5's impressive lineup of features.
As standard, the X5 will seat five adults in comfort, with plenty of headroom and legroom for all occupants. Getting in and out is easy, but if you opt for the available third row with another pair of seats, ingress and egress are tricky and space is at a premium, so we'd avoid choosing this option and rather consider something bigger if you need more seating capacity. In front, the seats are 16-way power-adjustable chairs with heating as standard on all variants, offering plenty of comfort and support as well as a great driving position. On the M50i variant, you get 20-way multi-contour seats with ventilation added. Options for the seats include heating for the rear seats, the steering wheel, and the front armrests, and you can also add massaging to the front seats if you've specced the 20-way perches or opted for the M50i model.
The base X5 features SensaTec faux leather as standard in a choice of Black or Canberra Beige/Black. However, you can upgrade to Vernasca leather for $1,450 and then choose from Ivory White, Canberra Beige, Coffee, Cognac, or Black. If that's still not enough, Merino leather is available in the same colors besides Cognac, while Tartufo and Ivory White/Midnight Blue get added. However, these options cost $2,450 along with the addition of multi-contour seats and the Convenience package, bringing the true total for this leather option to $4,250. Fortunately, you get more choice with trim accents at no cost, with Aluminum Dark Mesh, Brown-Metallic Ash Grain wood, Fineline Stripe Brown High Gloss wood, Anthracite-Brown Poplar Matte Finish wood, and Aluminum Tetragon options. The last option is not truly free though, as you need to add multi-contour seats, Coffee extended Merino leather, and the M Sport aero kit. These options can add up to a good few thousand bucks. Glass controls are also available as part of a package.
The M50i variant gets Vernasca leather at no cost in the same colors as on other X5 models with Merino leather available in Ivory White, Coffee, Black, Tartufo, and Ivory White/Night Blue. These options cost $1,000. The same trim options are available here at no charge, but you can spend extra on carbon fiber ($300) or Individual Piano Black, Individual Fine Wood Ash Grain in High Gloss Silver, or BMW Individual Fineline Black with aluminum inserts for $1,080. An Anthracite Alcantara headliner is $650 here while a leather dashboard is $850.
The BMW X5 is a pretty commodious SUV, offering 33.9 cubic feet of volume behind the rear seats, assuming that you've opted to stick with the standard two-row seating configuration. The hybrid variant is a little less commodious, however, at 33.1 cubes. That means plenty of space for full-size luggage for each occupant, along with extra space for shopping bags containing your road trip snacks. Thanks to a power liftgate, hands-free opening of the rear hatch is a breeze, and if the cargo area isn't spacious enough for you, you can fold the rear seats in a 40/20/40 split to open up as much as 72.3 cubic feet of volume.
In the cabin, you get decent door pockets, a glovebox, a center armrest bin, and a large space in the center console for your phone and/or wallet. There are also two cupholders in front and another two in the rear.
The X5 is a luxury German SUV, which means that standard features won't leave you wanting. The base model is equipped with launch control, stop/start, dynamic damper control, hill descent control, power-folding heated wing mirrors, dynamic cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, a power liftgate, and a panoramic moonroof with a power sunshade. You also get ambient lighting, Icon adaptive LED headlights, adaptive brake lights, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a 12.3-inch driver info display. Safety features include a drowsy driver monitor, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, and post-collision braking. You also get heated front seats, but on the M50i model, the front seats gain ventilation too. This model also boasts remote start, wireless charging, and quad-zone climate control. Available options in the US include lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, massaging front seats, park assist, a surround-view camera, a drive recorder, air suspension, a heated steering wheel and armrests, gesture control, a head-up display, LED lighting in the roof, adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight, and rear manual side window shades.
The infotainment system in every BMW X5 SUV is powered by BMW's iDrive 7.0 system and is operated via a 12.3-inch touchscreen display. It allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with Bluetooth and USB connections, and features HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, voice control, navigation, and a 10-speaker sound system. The M50i gets a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system instead. Available upgrades to the infotainment system include a Wi-Fi hotspot, or a truly immersive Bowers & Wilkins audio setup comprising 20 speakers with 1,500 watts of power, although this option is limited to the M50i and requires additional equipment in the form of the Executive package. The system is easy to understand and navigate and responds quickly, reasserting its status as one of the best infotainment systems available on the market.
Reliability is something that you never want to worry about when purchasing a new car. Unfortunately, it's not good news for the X5 as five recalls have already been issued for the 2021 model. These issues include improper welding of the front axle/right control arm, debris within the hybrid battery that could lead to a fire hazard, headlights that had a lens that did not conform to legal regulations, another hybrid battery issue (this time for a potential short-circuit), and the inner layer of the tire that may fail.
Hopefully, none of these issues will affect buyers going forward and BMW offers comprehensive warranty coverage that includes a limited and powertrain warranty for the first four years or 50,000 miles of ownership, along with four years of roadside assistance. Hybrid components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles while complimentary scheduled maintenance is provided for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
In terms of safety, BMW X5 review metrics have shown it to be relatively good, with the NHTSA providing an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five for the AWD version; the RWD model hasn't been fully evaluated yet. The IIHS review prompted the agency to select the 2020 BMW X5 for the highest possible honor of a Top Safety Pick+ award for 2019.
Safety features on the X5 are numerous, with the luxury SUV coming equipped as standard with hill descent control, dynamic cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, Icon adaptive LED headlights, adaptive brake lights, a rearview camera, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, a fatigue/focus alert function, and parking sensors. Available features are even more impressive, with BMW offering lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, automatic parking, a surround-view camera, a head-up display, and Icon adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight. All models feature six airbags, with dual frontal, side-impact, and curtain airbags.
The BMW X5 has been at the top of its game for a long time now, and now that there's a hybrid model with usable range on offer, it looks more attractive than ever before. It caters to everyone, with an impressive base model sending power to the rear wheels while an AWD version of the same vehicle adds stability in slippery situations. The X5 M50i model is also very impressive, offering real driving thrills and a remarkable ability to take corners at speed. The hybrid version isn't too slow off the line either, even with a big battery pack weighing it down. In addition, every model comes with a stunningly appointed cabin that boasts some of the best in infotainment technology. There are also numerous customization options and additional convenience features that can be added for a true luxury experience. Is it worth a test drive? Absolutely.
The BMW X5 series offers four trims for 2021, with the base sDrive40i model carrying a starting price of $59,400 before a $995 destination charge. The AWD xDrive40i variant is a little more expensive with an MSRP in the USA of $61,700. The xDrive45e hybrid model costs $65,400 before any additional charges or potential rebates while the fastest variant in the lineup, the X5 M50i, carries a sticker price of $82,800. Notably, the xDrive45e qualifies for a federal tax credit of $7,500. Fully loaded, we managed to max the online configurator and give the BMW X5 a price of over $105,000 including destination.
Four trims are offered for the 2021 BMW X5. These are the sDrive40i, xDrive40i, xDrive45e, and M50i.
The cheapest model is the sDrive40i, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this model should be overlooked. It comes with a 3.0-liter straight-six that employs the aid of a turbocharger to help it achieve outputs of 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. This model sends power to the rear wheels exclusively and is capable of achieving 60 mph from rest in 5.3 seconds. Icon adaptive LED headlights are standard as are 19-inch wheels, launch control, hill descent control, and a 10-speaker sound system. A 12.3-inch driver info display is also included alongside a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, voice control, and SiriusXM satellite radio. You also get a power hands-free tailgate and 16-way power-adjustable heated front seats.
The next trim is the xDrive40i, and this version is identical to the base model mentioned above with the exception of its drivetrain. The xDrive40i splits its power between both front and rear axles for better traction and grip.
The xDrive45e is very similar to the xDrive40i in terms of features, but its 3.0-liter turbo-six and electric motor combine to produce 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Despite the added output, the hybrid X5's weight means that it can't accelerate any quicker than its 40i siblings.
The range-topper for regular 2021 X5s is the M50i. This model is also all-wheel drive and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission just like the rest of the range. However, it comes with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood that produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. This helps it get to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, but there's more to it than just straight-line speed. It also features a Vernasca leather interior as standard, heated and ventilated 20-way front seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, quad-zone climate control, wireless charging, remote start, and numerous M Sport upgrades including exhaust, suspension, differential, and brakes. An M Sport aero kit for the body is also standard.
All BMW X5 models use an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
If you feel that the non-M-enhanced models are a little too underequipped as standard, you can opt for the Convenience package at $1,050. This adds remote start, quad-zone climate control, wireless charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. If that's not enough, you can have the Premium package. This adds the features of the Convenience package along with the M50i's Harman Kardon sound system, gesture control, and a head-up display. This costs $2,800. Alternatively, you can spec a standalone option like M Sport brakes with red calipers for $650 or air suspension for a thousand bucks. In terms of aesthetics, you can black out chrome details on the exterior with the Extended Shadowline trim for $300. However, you will also have to add additional specs like the M Sport kit for $5,750 for a total cost of $6,050. On the M50i, which already features the M Sport kit, the cost is just $300.
Each of the X5 trims can have a case made for it, but we're partial towards the thirsty but fun and well-specced M50i model. Not only do you get a level of performance that can shock sports car owners, but you also gain desirable features like leather upholstery, bigger wheels, a sportier exterior appearance, and heated and ventilated front seats. You also gain wireless charging, quad-zone climate control, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you're not interested in performance and luxury features, we'd suggest the hybrid xDrive45e model. It's still a stunning vehicle and offers good acceleration and handling despite its weight. However, we would think about adding the $550 trailer hitch which is always practical, no matter how much you use it or don't.
The Audi Q7 is arguably in its most handsome suit yet, but if you think those striking looks are directly related to performance, you'll be disappointed. The available turbocharged V6 engine produces 335 hp - matching what you get in the base X5. Unlike the X5, you can't have RWD on any trim. There also isn't a hybrid variant, although you do get a fairly efficient 2.0-liter turbo-four as standard. It's not as frugal as the base X5 despite less power, however, but our real issue lies with the forced-in third row that compromises cargo volume without offering comfortable seating space for adults. Still, the cabin high-tech and beautifully finished as always, and those looking for a premium SUV without spending quite as much as the X5 asks for may be interested in this alternative.
The BMW X3 is the X5's little brother and despite its smaller size is a compelling alternative. That shorter wheelbase and body make the X3 easier to drive enthusiastically. As you'd expect, it's lighter on gas too, but with a cheaper vehicle comes fewer features. Adaptive LED headlights, 16-way front seats with heating, and lane departure warning are all missing from the list of standard equipment, but it's still an impressive little SUV with a power tailgate, tri-zone climate control, and a 12-speaker premium sound system. It also is available as an M40i variant that can do 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and provides a reasonable 28.7 cubic feet of volume. Overall, the X5 is still the better choice, but if you don't need quite so comprehensive a machine, the X3 is a great choice too.