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Original MSRP: $47,500 - $64,200
MPG: 14 City / 20 Hwy
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2012 BMW X5 Review

This review was written when the 2012 BMW X5 was new.

The 2012 BMW X5 is one of the sportiest SUVs on the market, and reviewers love how nimble this family hauler can be. However, the X5 is more expensive than comparably-equipped rivals, and its third row of seats is only suitable for the smallest of passengers.

Nearly every reviewer agrees that the 2012 BMW X5 is one of the best-driving, best-handling SUVs on the market, but reviewres say the X5 certainly has its downsides, like its high price, complicated iDrive infotainment system and nearly-unusable optional third row of seats. "But even with these drawbacks in mind," says Edmunds, "the 2012 BMW X5 is a top pick among a strong group of competitors."

Auto writers say the interior of the BMW X5 is well-made and luxurious, and its driving dynamics are precise and powerful. They add that the X5 is surprisingly nimble for a vehicle so tall and heavy, and even its base engine, a twin-turbo inline six-cylinder, is plenty powerful for most drivers. Shoppers should keep in mind, though, that the X5 is only an SUV in the loosest sense of the word. BMW calls its crossover a “sport activity vehicle,” which means that those who need burly, go-anywhere capabilities should look elsewhere.

Still, the BMW X5 isn’t all rainbows and sunshine for reviewers. They consistently report that BMW’s efforts to simplify and improve its complex iDrive infotainment system don’t go far enough. While the system is better than the original version, it’s still complicated and requires a lot of the driver’s attention to operate. Plus, the X5’s base price doesn’t offer many features that other SUVs include standard. Still, the consensus remains: If you have the money to spend and want an SUV with sporty handling, the 2012 BMW X5 is a great choice.

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Other Luxury SUVs to Consider

If you’re in the market for a luxury midsize SUV with fun driving dynamics but a less-shocking price tag, take a look at the Saab 9-4X. Reviewers say it’s a surprisingly sporty vehicle, especially considering its roots in the lackluster Cadillac SRX. Plus, its top-of-the-line Aero trim comes standard with features like leather seats, navigation, Saab’s DriveSense adjustable suspension and remote start for $48,010. That’s only $810 more than the base X5’s price and it comes with a lot more features.

If you’d rather have a luxury SUV that hauls seven in comfort and keeps fuel costs low, and don’t mind sacrificing the X5’s performance edge, check out the Audi Q7 TDI. The base Q7 TDI diesel starts at $51,450 and includes seating for seven, front and rear parking sensors, heated, leather, 12-way adjustable front seats and a power tailgate. In contrast, the X5 xDrive35d starts at $51,800, which is comparable to the Q7 TDI, but you’d have to add at least $4,400 in options to equip it similarly.

Details: 2012 BMW X5

The BMW X5 comes in three trims, starting with the $47,200 xDrive35i. The base xDrive35i comes standard with features like all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, 10-way power-adjustable leatherette front seats and a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD player with iPod and USB adapter. The xDrive35d diesel comes similarly-equipped, but commands a $4,600 price premium over the base xDrive35i for the diesel engine.

You can also opt for the xDrive35i Premium or Sport Activity, depending on the type of extras you want. The xDrive35i Premium starts at $54,800, which adds $7,600 compared with the base model. This upgrade will get you three-stage heated front seats upholstered in real leather, slightly larger wheels, a panoramic moonroof and a power tailgate. On the other hand, opting for the $57,300 xDrive35i Sport Activity will earn you standard 20-inch wheels and the option to add the $5,650 M Sport Package. This package includes exterior tweaks and a sport suspension with adaptive drive.

The top-of-the-line X5 xDrive50i comes standard with a larger engine than the base model, four-way lumbar support for front-seat occupants and navigation. It starts at $63,800, which is about $16,600 more expensive than the base xDrive35i’s price.


  • "The 2012 BMW X5 remains a top choice among luxury crossover SUVs thanks to its athletic performance and refined interior." -- Edmunds
  • "Although the price cut is certainly welcome, what's surprising is how much equipment remains optional, including leather upholstery (!), on the base car and the diesel; the third-row seat; navigation, even on the most expensive versions; Bluetooth; and satellite radio. So be prepared to spend a bit more than the base price." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "If you're a BMW fan, particularly of the X5, this is a nice upgrade. And yes, that is a reason to consider putting it in your garage. More power. Same comfort. Classy, understated looks. It's all here. And it's a well-executed package." -- AutoWeek
  • "Any model is pricey, but if you crave an SUV with an emphasis on ‘Sport’, this BMW might be the one for you." -- Consumer Guide
  • "BMW's refreshed X5 continues in its quest for total perfection in the luxury crossover/SUV realm by incorporating engine and drivetrain improvements that continue to keep the Sport Activity Vehicle, or whatever they want to call it, relevant in an extremely competitive segment. If your bottom line is healthy, our bottom line says it's definitely a ‘ute worthy of your consideration." -- Left Lane News
Review Last Updated: 10/9/13

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