The SUV sector is a hive of activity at the moment and, in the world of large SUVs, new arrivals such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 have left a previous favourite, the BMW X5, trailing.
But that’s not to say the popular BMW isn’t still worth a look, though – not least because, with prices starting from £44,575, it’s appreciably cheaper than some of its newer competitors; odd as it may seem, it’s now one of the most affordable premium SUVs on the market.
It also remains a very capable alternative to its newer rivals as well, not least because it remains such a good machine to drive: here are five reasons why we think it’s still worth a look…
1: Well equipped
The X5 SE is the entry-level trim but even this has heated leather seats, sat nav, Bluetooth, parking sensors and 18in alloy wheels. You really don’t need anything more.
2: Excellent on-board systems
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is still leagues ahead of most rivals. It’s clear, slick and user-friendly, meaning anyone should find the rich-looking sat nav and other systems intuitive to use.
3: Comfortable and seats up to seven
The big, roomy X5 is man enough to pack in a fistful of six-footers without anyone grumbling about a lack of space. There’s even a seven-seat version, with an extra row of seats that flip up from the boot floor – although these are rather less commodious…
4: Commanding visibility
The high-up X5 gives a great view out, both front and rearwards. It feels confident and commanding to drive, and even includes standard front and rear parking sensors to make maneuvering the big machine easier.
5: Good to drive
One of the X5’s biggest draws is the satisfaction it offers behind the wheel. For an SUV, it’s very crisp and sharp, with lots of grip and much more agility than rivals such as the Volvo XC90. It’s a genuinely sporty ‘sports utility vehicle’.
You can save even more money by buying a used BMW X5, of course. The first generation went on sale in the late 1990s and the much-improved second generation model was sold between 2007-2013.
They’re well-liked by owners and are generally proving reliable, although we have seen some reports of poor interior build quality. Parking sensors can become faulty, as can the Bluetooth system, while replacing the tyres on models with run-flat rubber is expensive. Engines can also run rough and engine failures aren’t unheard of either.
Speaking of engines, bargain-hunters should look for the petrol-powered models, as they hold their value well. Just remember, fuel bills and road tax will be higher.
That’s why most new buyers went for diesel, meaning there’s plenty of choice on the used market. Our pick is the 232bhp 3.0-litre turbodiesel: it’s fast and smooth, while SE specification includes a good level of kit including climate control and cruise control.
Prices for this era of X5 start from less than £6000 and our best-buy xDrive30d will cost from around £14,500. It’s readily available with less than 50,000 miles on the clock, meaning there will be plenty of life left in it despite the massive saving over buying a surprisingly similar-looking brand new one.