2007 BMW X5 Review

2007 BMW X5 - Sport in SUV


<a href='/usedcars/BMW/X5/2007/'>2007 BMW X5</a>

Sports-car handling, Powerful engine, Top-notch interior materials

Goofy shifter, Confusing controls, Tiny third-row seat

Putting the "sport" in sport-utility
BMW's heritage and the traditional notion of a sport-utlility vehicle appear as contradictory ideologies. For generations of drivers, BMW means fun-to-drive. The opposite is said of most sport-utility vehicles. Yet, with its X5 and smaller X3, BMW hopes to bridge the gap between utility and fun-to-drive. The German automaker even dubs its sport-utility vehicles, Sports Activity Vehicles.

Regardless of what BMW calls it, the X5 is a midsize SUV with a luxury-car price tag. That means it comes with V6 or V8 power, seats five to seven passengers, has two or four-wheel drive and competes with vehicles like the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz M and R-Class, and Volvo XC90.

Though the shape may be familiar, the 2007 BMW X5 is completely redesigned. It grows 4.5 inches in wheelbase and 7.4 inches overall. It is also 2.5 inches wider and 2 inches taller. The size increase has allowed BMW to squeeze in a third-row seat to up passenger capacity from five to seven. Other changes for 2007 include larger and more powerful engines, revised suspension, variable-ratio steering, and keyless remote with pushbutton starting.

Two models are offered, the $45,900 X5 3.0si and the $54,500 X5 4.8i. The 3.0si comes standard with a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower. The 4.8i comes with a 4.8-liter V8 that develops 350 horsepower. Both come with all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission with separate shiftgate for manual operation. The all-wheel drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road use. Towing capacity is 6000 points.

Vehicle Tested

2007 BMW X5 4.8i

Base Price:
As-Tested Price: $63,620,465
Built in USA.
OptionsThird-row seat
Panoramic moonroof
Rear-door-window sun blinds
Multi-contour seats
Heated front seats
Park-distance control
Rear-seat entertainment
BMW Assist w/Bluetooth
Satellite radio

Engine: DOHC 4.8-liter V9
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: all-wheel drive

Standard safety equipment on both models includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-descent control, tire pressure monitor, and dual front, front side, and curtain side airbags. The curtain side airbags have roll-over sensors and protect first- and second-row occupants. They replace the tubular side airbags on the previous model. Front- and rear-obstacle detection and a rear-view camera are optional.

3.0si models include dual-zone air conditioning, power tilt-telescope steering wheel, cruise control, power driver seat, second-row split-folding seat, power mirrors, windows, and locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, steering-linked HID headlamps, roof rails, rear spoiler, and alloy wheels. 4.8i models add to 3.0si standard equipment leather upholstery, wood interior trim, and load-leveling suspension.

Options include navigation system with voice recognition and traffic information, BMW Assist System, panorama sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, satellite radio, HD radio, iPod connector, split-folding third-row seats, power liftgate, head-up instrument display, rear sunshades, active steering, and running boards.

The X5 is built in BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina, factory and has a destination charge of $775.

Get up and Go
The V8 engine in the 4.8i has ample power to motivate the 5300 pound X5. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of a scant 6.4 seconds. In real-world driving, there's a slight throttle lag, giving the X5 a sluggish feeling off the line. Once moving, acceleration is sports-car-like and passing power is outstanding.

Six-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly and downshifts quickly. The gear shift is unconventional. You push forward to go in reverse and backward to go forward. In addition, there's a Park button at the top of the shifter that's easily accidentally pressed. Luckily there is a lockout that prevents Park from engaging unless the vehicle is stopped. Even more confusing is the operation of the manual shift gate. Drivers push forward to downshift and pull back to upshift. This is the opposite of all other road cars. (It should be noted that race cars with sequential gearboxes shift in a similar manner to the X5.)

2007 BMW X5
The V8-equipped X5 is EPA rated at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. That's comparable to other V8-powered midsize SUVs. However, most of those vehicles offer more interior and cargo room. In routine driving expect the X5 4.8i to average 18.5 mpg, perhaps as high as 21 mpg if your commute includes lots of expressway driving. BMW says that both X5 engines require premium-grade fuel.

On the RoadIn a departure from traditional soft-riding midsize SUVs, BMW gave the X5 a very sporty ride. The good news is that means there's little bouncing or bobbing on rough roads. The bad news is there's lots of road feel--perhaps too much at times. The ride is never hard, but it also doesn't comfort. Bottom line: If you're looking for a sporty-riding SUV the X5 is perfect, if you're looking serene comfort, shop elsewhere.

The firm suspension, low-aspect-ratio tires, and sharp steering combine to give the X5 athletic moves that would make a sports car proud. The tires have tenacious grip and there is little body lean in fast turns or quick maneuvers. Brakes are impressively strong and the pedal is easy to modulate.

BMW calls the X5's all-wheel-drive system xDrive. It features an electronically controlled front/rear torque split. Based on driving dynamics the X5 can route a higher percentage of engine power to the front or rear of the vehicle to help control understeer (going straight when turning the wheels) or oversteer (back end looping around).

In practice, this works best in wet or snowy conditions. If you enter a corner too quickly and the vehicle doesn't follow steering input, the torque splitter will route power to either the front or the rear of the vehicle to help keep the vehicle on its intended path. The system only works if you keep your foot on the throttle, which is an unlikely scenario as most drivers will lift off the gas and reach for the brake pedal as a first reaction to a skid. In those situations, the standard stability control does its best to keep the vehicle on its driver-intended path.

2007 BMW X5
2007 BMW X5
The X5 isn't as quiet as some other luxury SUVs. There's a fair amount of road noise on coarse surfaces thanks to aggressively sized tires. However, wind and engine noise are low at highway speeds.

Behind the WheelIf you've been in a BMW before, you know they have certain refined-yet-modern feel. The X5 is no different. Colors are subdued, but not bland, and surfaces are nicely textured and expensive looking. The overall design layout is straightforward with clear gauges right in front of the driver. However, ancillary displays are placed in various locations across the dashboard and can make searching for temperature settings or radio station selection difficult.

Another drawback is BMW's iDrive control system. It was introduced five years ago on the BMW 7-Series and is intended to use a simple dial/toggle and display screen to eliminate most audio/climate/vehicle controls.

People complained so much that BMW resurrected many of the standard controls and simplified iDrive. However, what you end up with on the X5 is a confusing mix of simple dash-mounted buttons and knobs for some features and then secondary controls buried within iDrive menus. Not only does this system make changing the radio station or cabin temperature more difficult, it also distracts from driving the vehicle.

If you are a fan of soft, form-fitting seats that would typically be found in a Buick or Lexus, you're in for a BIG surprise. The front seats in the X5 are nicely contoured, but typical BMW HARD. They do offer an adjustable thigh support that is very nice for long-legged drivers. The driving position is excellent and there's plenty of leg room and adequate head room for large adults.

Outward visibility is good if you keep the rear-seat headrests folded. Parking is a snap thanks to the optional rear-view camera and parking assist system. Step-up is slightly higher than a traditional wagon, but lower than traditional midsize SUVs.

Second-row seats are firm and have a flat cushion. The backrest does recline, which adds to comfort. Head room is generous but leg room is merely adequate for 6-footers. Third-row seats are really just for kids as there's little leg room and the seat cushion is very short. Second-row seats don't flip and fold very easily, which makes getting back to the third-row difficult.

NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2007 BMW X5

Front Impact, Driver  NA
Front Impact, Passenger NA
Side Impact, Driver NA
Side Impact, Rear Passenger NA
Rollover Resistance NA
Cargo space is scant with the third-row seats in place, adequate if they are stowed. The cargo area floor hides a deep bin that's good for keeping small items contained. Both the second- and third-row seats fold to create a flat load floor. Two-piece tailgate opens like a clamshell--the window opens up and the lower half opens down.

Interior storage is merely adequate. The center-console bin is smaller than expected for a midsize SUV and there's little open storage space as well. Glove box and front-door map pockets are generously sized, though.

Bottom LineSomehow, BMW has managed to create a vehicle with the utility of a SUV and the driving dynamics of a large sport sedan. That, in a nutshell is the X5's appeal. It isn't the most fuel efficient, or the roomiest, or the quietest, or the most comfortable. However, it will meet the needs of most SUV buyers and put a smile on their face when the roads grow twisty.

Price is another story. With a base price of the $54,500, the X5 4.8i certainly isn't the least-expensive midsize SUV on the block. Add a bunch of options and the X5 will easily list for more than $60,000. That puts it in Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover territory. At that price, if your pocketbook will indulge your driving ego, the X5 is the SUV for the driving enthusiast.

Specifications, 2007 BMW X5 4.8i

4-door wagon



Wheelbase, in. 


Size, liters/cu. in. 

4.8 / 293

Length, in. 


Horsepower @ rpm 

350 @ 6300

Width, in. 


Torque (lb-ft) @ rpm 

350 @ 3400

Height, in.



6-speed automatic

Weight, lbs. 


EPA Estimates, mpg

17 city / 21 highway

Cargo Volume, cu. ft. 


Fuel Capacity, gals. 


Manufacturer's Warranty

Seating Capacity



4 years / 50,000 miles

Front Head Room, in. 




Front Leg Room, in. 



12 years / unlimited miles

Second-Row Head Room, in. 


Free Roadside Assistance 

4 years / 50,000 miles

Rear Leg Room, in. 


Free Scheduled Maintenance

4 years / 50,000 miles

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.