On most aspects of quality, style, exclusivity, and class, the X5 was rated highly by owners.
The so-called F15 generation BMW X5 hit the road in 2013, offering more of what made the brand’s legendary luxury sports ute so popular for the generations before it. Luxurious, comfortable, capable, and dialled in for confident driving in all conditions, this world-class hauler could be had in a wide range of configurations to suit virtually any need or taste.
Look for flexible seating and cargo provisions, plenty of ground clearance, standard xDrive AWD, a drive mode selector, and nothing less than the market’s latest and greatest safety, connectivity, and convenience tech.
Feature content included performance lighting, premium stereo provisions, a panoramic sunroof, a power tailgate, a head-up display (HUD), climate-controlled seats, rear-seat entertainment provisions, and plenty more. An advanced camera-based parking system and radar cruise were also available.
The X5 is BMW’s largest SUV model, taking a position above the X1 and X3 within the lineup. This generation ran from 2013 to 2018 inclusive – meaning newer used copies will likely benefit from remaining factory warranty.
Most used copies of the X5 from this generation will run a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, with output rated between 300 and 315 horsepower, depending on the specific model. Available was a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, good for 445 horsepower. A 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine was also available, good for 265 horsepower. Look for an eight-speed automatic with electronic shifter, and xDrive AWD as standard.
The X5 was also available in an extreme-performance X5 M designation, as well as a plug-in hybrid model. For this review, we’ll focus on the more popular gas- and diesel-powered models.
What Owners Like
On most aspects of quality, style, exclusivity, and class, the X5 was rated highly by owners. Traction is abundant in inclement weather, the commanding driving position is easy to appreciate, and the X5 inspires plenty of confidence, almost no matter the weather. A comfortable ride on most models, as well as a generous cargo hold and plenty of at-hand storage for smaller items helps round out the package.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes are often model-specific, with many owners of sport-package-equipped models complaining of harsh and jarring ride quality in an off-road setting, on account of the larger, run-flat tires. Though these models pack elevated handling capability, ride quality on rough surfaces takes a hit. Some owners also wish for a lighter feel and action from the steering wheel at lower speeds, for easier manoeuvrability. Lastly, some owners say that getting on board is slightly awkward, thanks to the height and thickness of the floor and rocker panel.
Here are some owner reviews.
Pro Tip: Calculate the Total Cost
Watch your budget, and understand that the X5’s purchase price and fuel bill are far from the only costs you’ll incur in owning one. As a flagship premium product, maintenance and repairs can be pricey – so be sure to understand the costs of tires, brakes, replacement lighting provisions, and all ongoing service requirements, before agreeing to purchase.
Pro Tip: Winter Tires
Don’t forget the winter tires. The X5 is fitted with numerous features and systems designed to enhance safety and grip in slippery situations – but none of these features actually creates traction, and they only work as well as the tires installed. A high-quality set of winter tires is absolutely vital to maximize the effectiveness of the X5’s traction-assisting systems in inclement weather.
Pro Tip: Considering a Diesel?
If you’re buying a diesel-powered model, be sure to perform all checks advised below, and also, to have the fuel system and emissions control system checked fully by a BMW technician for maximum peace of mind. Confirm any remaining warranty coverage on the emissions system is still intact, and hasn’t been compromised or voided by some failure of a past owner to properly maintain the vehicle. Software updates may be available to improve the performance or reliability of the complicated diesel engine’s emissions system, so be sure these are all up to date for the model you’re considering, too.
Pro Tip: Inspect the Hybrid
If you’re buying a hybrid-powered model, be sure to perform all checks advised below, and also, to have the vehicle treated to a full diagnostic scan of its driveline and hybrid system and battery by a BMW technician. Confirm that any remaining warranty coverage on the hybrid driveline is in full effect, and check all charging cords and associated provisions for signs of damage or wear, which could be a safety hazard and may require replacement.
The Test Drive
Watch for Modification
According to this thread, many owners have modified the factory engine programming of their X5 to increase power output and driving enjoyment. When buying a used BMW X5, ensure you’re buying a unit that’s never been subjected to this type of modification, which can be detected by a dealer even if it’s removed, and will almost certainly void any remaining warranty coverage. If in doubt, ask a dealer to check the vehicle’s VIN number (you may need the seller with you for this), and to confirm that the warranty is still in good standing. Do not underestimate the ability of a dealer service department to nuke any remaining warranty coverage on models that have been, or remain, modified with non-factory parts or programming.
Full Electronics Scan
Purchasing a used X5 without a full diagnostic scan of all electronics systems by a dealer technician is strongly not advised. This procedure uses special equipment to have a look inside of the X5’s numerous computer brains, and can reveal a multitude of possible problems across a wide range of systems. If any need attention, or are at risk of a malfunction, you’ll want to know before you buy.
Sporadically, numerous owners have reported noise-related issues with wind blowing past door seals, rattly tailgates, squeaking or buzzing from the instrument cluster cowl area, and more. In most cases, these issues are repaired quickly by a dealer technician, often via some adjustment or the addition of some sound-insulating tape or cushioning pads. There’s more information on these gripes, and others, here.
Numerous owners have reported random or continual non-functionality with the X5’s back-up camera. Try this several times on the course of your test drive, to confirm it works properly. It should activate immediately upon engaging reverse gear. If that’s not the case, some attention is required. Possible culprits include a bad wiring ground, the need to reboot the system, or the need to replace the camera(s) or computer module that controls the camera system. Here’s some more reading. Note that user error may be the cause of a non-functional back-up camera system, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the workings of the system as outlined in the owner’s manual.
Engine Problems (or Not)
According to this discussion about reliability and engine problems, it looks like the statistical majority of owners of this generation of X5 have enjoyed solid all-around reliability from their engines, though some owners have had engines and associated components repaired or even replaced under warranty. These issues seem to mostly affect the “50i” model, that is, the X5 with the V8 engine. As it went with the previous-generation X5, the straight-six looks like the better choice for trouble-free long-term ownership.
Rare problems listed with the X5s V8 engine include cylinder scoring, failed valve seals, and oil consumption – though none was reported with enough frequency against total sales volume to warrant much concern.
Still, given the possibility of potentially crippling out-of-warranty costs, many owners say they w
ouldn’t considering owning this generation of X5, specifically with a V8 engine, outside of warranty. Shoppers are strongly advised to consider an add-on extended warranty for maximum peace of mind. What would we buy? An X5 with the straight-six engine and a good add-on warranty, just to be safe.
Wheels and Tires
Carefully inspect each wheel and tire for signs of damage, especially on models with the large wheels and low-profile tires. Note that bubbling or lumpy tire sidewalls (on either the inner or outer surface) indicate damage and the need to replace the tires. Look for curbing damage on the outer edges of the wheels, too. Call any problems you find into your pricing negotiations.
Has the X5 you’re considering been fitted with all available software updates for all systems? With the VIN number in hand, a dealer service desk should be able to check for you, quickly. Numerous software updates are available to fix or correct possible or occurring issues across a multitude of vehicle systems. Running the latest software updates can improve fuel mileage, reliability, performance from the vehicle’s battery, and more. They also help ensure that all of the X5’s extensive electronic systems work consistently at all times. Be sure the unit you’re after is running the latest software, for maximum peace of mind.
Here’s a lengthy list of recalls. You can look up if any of them apply to the vehicle you’re considering by entering the VIN on BMW’s online tool.
Mind your budget. For best results, shoppers set on a used BMW X5 from this generation should include, at minimum, a full dealer-performed mechanical and electronic inspection, and a good add-on warranty package, in their pricing calculations. The X5 is a vehicle loved by many around the globe for many reasons, but being cheap to run isn’t one of them. Protect yourself against potentially pricey repairs via warranty coverage, and careful adherence to all maintenance requirements.
Crash Test Results
IIHS: results here
NHTSA: 4/5 Stars (2013)