There’s plenty of conjecture about who invented the modern luxury SUV.
Range Rover claims it’s the original, while Mercedes-Benz beat Audi, BMW, and Porsche to the punch by revealing the first-generation ML in 1997. You could argue that the BMW X5 defines the large luxury SUV segment, though.
The badge has come a long way. The first-generation model debuted in 1999 borrowed heavily from the 5 Series and was topped with a sprinkling of Land Rover DNA; the fourth-generation car here is a road-biased luxury family staple that’s spawned a global range of seven BMW SUVs.
Although BMW has announced a facelifted version of the X5 for 2024, the car you see here will be on sale for the next six months at least. It’s been updated with new screens and more power, but prices are also up across the board.
Should you wait for the update to touch down, or snap up a 2023 car while you still can?
Most of the BMW range was recently hit with a price rise for 2023, but the X5 managed to dodge the increases.
The xDrive30d is now the base model in the range, with a sticker price of $126,900 before on-roads.
2023 BMW X5 pricing:
- BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport: $126,900
- BMW X5 xDrive40i M Sport: $130,900
- BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport: $139,900
- BMW X5 M50i Pure: $149,900
- BMW X5 M50i: $164,900
- BMW X5 M Competition: $227,900
Prices exclude on-road costs
The updated X5 coming Down Under later in 2023 features more prominent screens, but the car on test here isn’t what you’d call old-fashioned. Even four years after its debut it looks great, but that hasn’t come at the cost of function.
Front passengers sit in well-stuffed, supportive seats with electric adjustment, and everything you touch feels high quality. From the cold metal on the transmission tunnel to the fat, leather-trimmed steering wheel, the 30d is no base-level stripper.
You also get the sense it’s been screwed together properly. Our tester was quite long in the tooth for a press car, but there were no rattles, squeaks, or loose pieces of trim. That’s not always the case after a hard life on the press fleet.
It’s brilliantly functional. There’s heaps of storage up front for bottles, along with a wireless charger, a wallet-sized slot beneath the dashboard, and a useful space beneath the split-opening central armrest, and you get physical buttons for climate control.
BMW has replaced the infotainment system in the current X5 with a new, one-piece display lifted from the iX and i4 for 2024. Although it looks slick, it’s not necessarily a step forward from the system in our tester.
Not only does it still look modern, the fact you’re able to interact using the rotary controller on the centre tunnel, Hey BMW voice prompts, or the touchscreen makes it easy to navigate both the native software and smartphone mirroring. The graphics still look great, and it responds sharply to inputs.
What does need improvement is the wireless Apple CarPlay system, which was prone to dropouts during our time behind the wheel.
The digital driver’s display isn’t quite up to scratch. It’s visually busy, and doesn’t have the range of layout options you get in Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit, although you still get the information you need about speed, revs, and your trip computer.
Rear seat space is solid, although the X5 is shaded by the marginally larger (similarly priced) Audi Q7 in the second row. Headroom is excellent back there, even with the panoramic sunroof fitted, and there’s plenty of legroom for tall teenagers.
The tall windows mean it feels bright in the second row, and all the amenities you’d expect feature. There’s a fold-down central armrest, air vents with their own temperature controls, and decent door bins for road trip snacks.
There’s also four USB ports back there. Along with the two USB-C ports at the base of the transmission tunnel, there are two on the front seat back alongside a tablet mount for the kids on long road trips.
ISOFIX points feature on the outboard rear seats, and there’s a trio of top tethers back there for child seats.
Boot space is a claimed 650 litres with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1870 litres with them folded flat.
BMW deserves points for sticking with its split tailgate, which makes it easier to slide heavy things into the boot – or works as a seat when you’re watching your kids play sport.
The X5 xDrive30d is powered by a 3.0-litre inline six turbo-diesel generating 195kW (4000rpm) of power and 620Nm (2000-2500rpm) of torque. BMW claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.5 seconds.
All BMW X5 variants feature an eight-speed ZF automatic as standard, as well as xDrive all-wheel drive.
Claimed fuel economy is 7.2L/100km, equivalent to 189g/km CO2. We saw 7.8 litres per 100km over a week of mixed driving.
The fuel tank holds 80 litres, which makes for a theoretical range of more than 1000km.
This is meant to be the base BMW X5 (in Australia), but you wouldn’t know if from behind the wheel.
The 3.0-litre inline-six turbo-diesel is effortless, all the time. There’s no real lag off the line, and it surges through the mid-range with way more determination than you’d expect.
Save for a hint of turbo whistle it doesn’t sound like a truck inside, and the linear way it delivers its performance puts it on a different plane to the average diesel engine. Our videographer, who daily drives a Ford XR8 ute, hopped out and said it feels like a naturally-aspirated V8.
Of course, the eight-speed ZF automatic plays a role in that as well. At a cruise it slurs effortlessly through the gears, rarely letting the engine rev beyond around 2000rpm, but it’s also willing to hang onto ratios longer and tap into the torque-rich mid-range when you dip the throttle further.
Although there are paddles behind the steering wheel, the transmission is smart enough to give you what you need, when you need it most of the time – and there’s Sport mode for when you’re running late for school.
At school run speeds the steering is light and direct, making it easy to place what’s a big car in small spaces, and BMW offers some of the clearest cameras in the business. Throw in the high driving position, and there’s no excuse for kerb strikes.
Although it’s been tuned to feel sporty by SUV standards, the M Sport suspension tune does a good job keeping pimply city streets out. It’s also nicely settled on the highway, where you get the feeling the X5 could just truck along forever without ever feeling flustered.
Not only is it quiet and comfortable, it’s fearsomely efficient at 100km/h. We saw economy as low as 5.5 litres per 100km at a cruise which, when you consider the 80L fuel tank, would be good for well over 1000km on a single fill.
With no more component shortages, BMW says it’s no longer taking active driver assists out of its new cars. That’s a good thing, because they’re some of the best.
The adaptive cruise control smoothly maintains a gap to the car in front, the lane-keep only intervenes when it really needs to, and the blind-spot monitor doesn’t jump at shadows. BMW also deserves points for making it simple when you want to turn them off, placing a button prominently on the dashboard to access all your driver assist settings.
As for when you want to test out the old Ultimate Driving Machine tagline? There’s no escaping the fact the X5 has evolved into a two-tonne hulk, but it does control its mass better than most large SUVs.
There’s enough weight in the steering to inspire confidence, and the all-wheel drive system provides excellent traction in slippery conditions. It doesn’t feel reactive, and the rear bias in day-to-day driving means you don’t get the feeling of the front wheels slipping off the mark when the road is wet, nor is there any torque steer.
X5 xDrive30d highlights:
- M Sport Package
- 20-inch M light alloy wheels
- Adaptive 2-axle aur suspension, self-levelling
- Panorama glass sunroof
- M Aerodynamics package
- M High-gloss Shadow Line
- M Roof rails in high-gloss Shadow Line
- Adaptive LED headlights
- LED tail lights
- Electric folding side mirrors
- Anti-dazzle function (driver)
- Auto dipping function (passenger)
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional
- 12.3-inch instrument display
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Satellite navigation
- Voice control
- USB-A + USB-C ports in Row 1
- 2 x USB-C ports in Row 2
- DAB+ radio
- 10-speaker HiFi audio, 205W amplifier
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Vernasca leather upholstery
- Door sill finishers with M designation, front
- Aluminium ‘Mesheffect’ interior trim finishers
- M leather steering wheel
- Anthracite headliner
- Instrument panel in Sensatec leatherette
- Auto tailgate
- 2.5-zone climate control
- Electric front seats incl. driver memory
- Heated front seats
- Comfort Access
- BMW Digital Key
- Floor mats in velour
- Sports seats, front
- 40:20:40 2nd row backrest
- BMW ConnectedDrive
- Intelligent Emergency Call
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Vehicle apps (News, Weather)*
- BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant*
- Connected Package Professional*
Indulgence Package: $7000
- Active seat ventilation, front
- Comfort seats, front
- ‘Crafted Clarity’ glass trim application
- Seat heating, front and rear
- Massage function, front seats
The X5 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2018 date stamp, based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP.
However, this rating only covers 3.0-litre petrol and diesel models, with plug-in hybrid and V8 variants remaining ‘unrated’.
The X5 scored 89 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 75 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 71 per cent for safety assists.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- 7 airbags incl. driver’s knee
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Adaptive cruise with stop/go
- Front, rear cross-traffic alert
- Steering & Lane Control Assistant
- Lane keep assist
- Side Collision Warning
- Lane Change Assistant
- Crossroads warning
- Evasion Aid
- High beam assist
- Parking Assistant Plus
- Active Park Distance Control rear (sensors)
- Reversing Assistant
- Surround View (360 cameras)
- Panorama View
- 3D View
- Speed Limiter
- Speed Limit Info
As of October 1, 2022, all new BMW vehicles are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. No longer does BMW lag behind arch rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz, nor the likes of Genesis, Lexus and Volvo.
Owners also receive complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance for three years with purchase as well.
In terms of scheduled maintenance, BMW Australia offers Service Inclusive pre-paid packages that cover the first five years or 80,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
The standard Service Inclusive Basic costs $2750 for the core X5 range.
There’s an update coming, but the current BMW X5 has plenty to offer.
The ‘base’ diesel engine is far from basic, with more than enough performance and impressive economy, and the cabin hasn’t really dated since launch.
The addition of a slick, one-piece infotainment screen to the 2024 model looks good on paper, but in our experience the latest BMW iDrive isn’t necessarily easier to use than the system it’s replacing. That’s worth keeping in mind.
Also worth keeping in mind is the fact the 2024 X5 diesel will be $8000 more expensive than the 2023 model you see here.
If you don’t want to wait for the update to arrive, you really aren’t missing out on much. Whether or not it’s the original luxury SUV, it’s still one of the best.
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MORE: Everything BMW X5