The BMW X5 may have been one of the first luxury soft-roaders on the scene, yet to this day few rivals have managed to make as big of an impact in the segment that BMW did when it launched the first-generation X5 back in 1999.
The X5 has now progressed into its second-generation, which has been with us since 2007, and remains one of the best options for buyers looking for a mid-size luxury SUV.
This is mainly thanks to its handsome styling, ample space for five passengers, and luxurious interior, but looking at the engine options we think it’s also a brilliant performer.
Even in base trim the 2012 X5 comes equipped with a 300-horsepower turbocharged engine and gas mileage as high as 23 mpg on the highway. For the green fans, BMW offers a turbodiesel option in the X5, in this case a 3.0-liter twin-turbo unit good for 265 horsepower and up to 26 mpg highway.
Move up a rung on the ladder and you get to the first V-8 equipped model in the 2012 lineup, which comes with a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 good for 400 horsepower and 20 mpg highway. The other V-8 option is a completely different beast.
We are, of course, talking about the X5 M from BMW’s storied M Division. This particular model also comes with a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 but with a generous 555 horsepower on tap. The X5 M also gets upgraded with a shockingly good suspension setup and brake package to help you make the most of all that power. Unfortunately, it costs roughly double the base X5.
It should be noted that BMW has unveiled a facelifted version of the X5 for the 2013 model year, though the updates are minor so the 2012 is still a good option if there’s a deal to be had.
What made the original X5 so good is still true for the latest version; it’s impressive ability to drive and handle more like a car than tall-riding SUV. We find the X5's handling pleasantly sports sedan-like, despite its size and bulk. Even in base form, acceleration is brisk, but in all models, turns don't mean fear--they mean fun.
Inside the X5, there's comfort to spare despite the sporty handling. Ride quality is very good on road and acceptable off-road. Likewise, materials quality is very good, with room for up to seven passengers, though the rearmost seats require small occupants. Storage and cargo space, while not excessive, are more than adequate.
For more details, head over to our sister site The Car Connection for the full review.