ENGINES – Unless you're made of money the petrol X5 can be an expensive car to run – especially if you opt for the V8. Alternatively you could go for a diesel X5. It’s worth knowing that the more recent cars run with a more powerful version of the stock 3.0-litre unit. Either way, diesel power will make life easier when towing - especially when coupled to an auto gearbox.
EXTERIOR – There's no question that the X5 is a familiar sight on the roads. There are elements of older generation 5 Series models wherever you look, although overall the big SUV very much possesses its own personality. If you’re worried about the car’s size, dark colours are more flattering than lighter ones if you want to disguise its bulk.
INTERIOR – While the current generation car predictably mirrors that of the rest of BMW's range, this car’s cabin is very much like an older generation 5 Series. As such, the interior look and feel is sensible and could be described as restrained. Space is good up front but could be a little better in the back. At the rear, the split tailgate opens to reveal a commodious load space.
DRIVING – The X5 is not your average SUV and rides and handles more like a mildly sporting estate car. It’s not something you would use for any serious off-roading either, as the X5’s big wheels, modest ground clearance, road-biased handling and basic four-wheel drive system are better suited to leaf-strewn winter roads than a muddy hillside. It’s true that the facelift cars received a powertrain upgrade, but overall the X5 is more suited to towing than climbing mountains.
OWNERSHIP – Buying an X5 is very much a conscious decision. Large family estates might be more enjoyable to drive, but big SUVs offer better visibility and road presence. And, don’t forget, four-wheel drive is a rare feature on estate cars. Opt for the diesel if you want to keep fuel and running costs to sensible levels, and always buy the best equipped example you can afford – X5s weren't terribly well equipped from new but many owners chose to raid the options list.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR – Anything that shows the battle scars of urban life – parking dents, kerbed alloys – should be given a wide berth. A comprehensive history is a must for a car this complex and with it being popular with thieves a thorough history check is also essential. If a tow bar is fitted always ask what it was used for – you don’t want to find out later if the previous owner overstretched the car. An unmarked interior is a good sign of a pampered existence, as is the lack of dog hairs in the boot.
2000: BMW launches its first attempt at a premium SUV. Biased heavily towards on-road use, the car offered executive saloon levels of refinement but was also capable of tackling the odd muddy track. Initially available with 3.0 and 4.4-litre petrol engines. 2001 saw 3.0-litre diesel engines introduced. Mid-life revision, including more power for diesel engines, cosmetic tweaks and new 4x4 system, occurred in 2004.
REASONS TO BUY – Premium image, affordability, diesel performance, versatile cabin, car-like driving experience
REASONS TO BEWARE – Tired and neglected examples, patchy history, less desirable manual gearbox, modest standard spec
PICK OF THE RANGE – X5 3.0d SE auto.
WHAT TO PAY
2005 05 9,880
2005 55 10,270
2006 06 11,215
2006 56 11,640
2007 07 12,875
Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.