I'll be the first to admit that I see luxury crossovers merely as wagons on tall tires. They have on road performance in mind, aren't really aimed for heavy duty use and perhaps the most challenging terrain these things will ever come across is an unpaved carpark.
For me, if you're getting a luxury SUV, go all out. Get an LX 570, a Range Rover, or even an Land Cruiser or Patrol Royale. Get something plush and has the ability to go off-road. You already have the ground clearance, why not venture off-road?
So why am I swooning over the BMW X5 all of a sudden? A four-cylinder diesel X5 for crying out loud. Yes, there are four-pot turbodiesels under the hood of the X5 these days. What a world we live in today.
The BMW X5 xDrive25d (quite a mouthful, eh?) is the base model of the local range and, in all fairness to BMW, it doesn't look that basic at all. The handsome 19-inch alloys fill the wheel wells and the strong, muscular stance and wide grill show off quiet authority. Granted, it doesn't have the mass of the aforementioned Land Cruiser or Range Rover, but the X5 sure has presence. They even threw in a huge panoramic sunroof as standard.
Yes, it's been around since 2014 but the design has aged rather well. There's a clear evolution of the X5 lineage in this model which, by the way, is about to bow out soon. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite fully appreciate the design of this outgoing model because of the silver paint.
It looks good on the outside, but what about the inside? You'll be impressed by its build quality with high grade materials and soft touch panels surrounding the cabin. The chunky, thick-rimmed steering wheel is begging to be used and the classic BMW arrangement is still there. Its driver-oriented center stack wraps around you and ergonomics are spot on; you won't really need an owners manual to get used to it.
However, BMW interiors are not what I'd call luxurious. Now, this is more of a personal thing but I see the overall design leaning towards function rather than form. Don't get me wrong but if you're looking for flair, you might want to look elsewhere. On the flipside, you get a decent amount of legroom, a large cargo area and comfy seats with memory.
On to the engine and it's pretty standard BMW fare. It is four-cylinder turbodiesel, displacement is at 2.0-liters and it's closely related to the 320d and 520d you see in roaming around business districts. Yes, the '25d' in the badge isn't exactly accurate, but there is more power over the other BMW sedans. From its 2.0-liter block, the X5 25d makes 231 PS and, more importantly, 500 Nm of torque. Don't expect a manual in here, shifting is done via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
As luxurious and elegant as the X5 is, it's not exactly refined when you start it up. The turbodiesel grumbles and judders into life, which somewhat diminishes the poise and finesse the exterior design exudes. While diesel grumble is difficult to fully eliminate, it would've been better if there was less clatter, more so given that the X5 isn't what you'd call affordable.
But all is forgiven once you close the door and get moving. 231 PS doesn't sound much on paper for some, but the engine pulls the portly 2.1 ton crossover with ease. It's smooth in operation and it's paired really well to the eight-speed automatic transmission. The result is a near-seamless transition from one gear to another. Leave the engine mode in its default setting and performance is more than adequate for most. Put it in Sport Plus and the four-cylinder X5 zooms straight to the horizon without losing much steam. Just imagine what the straight-six turbodiesel will be like.
The engine's a sipper too, delivering good fuel economy figures. Now, the X5 comes with EcoPro mode which optimizes the engine management system to use as little fuel as possible. I didn't use it for the most part to see what it's like in the real world and without the assistance of stop-start tech.
Averaging 18.3 km/h in the city, the base X5 returned 8.8 kilometers per liter. Out on the highway at 97 km/h, the figure was just almost double of the city consumption at 16.2 kilometers per liter. Not bad considering the X5 was fully loaded on its highway run. On EcoPro mode, fuel consumption in the city improved to 9.4 kilometers per liter (average speed: 17.9 km/h). The figure was achieved without the use of stop-start mode.
You expect a BMW to ride well and the X5 doesn't disappoint. It does a good job keeping the ride level without much wallow or pitch. That means you won't get carsick in the X5, nor will end up with back ache, even after a long drive or a stint on rough roads.
Despite that, handling is still living up to the marque's 'dynamic' reputation. Now, it's not like BMWs of the past but if you take out your rose tinted glasses, you'll appreciate the grip, the roadholding, and the confidence it inspires.
Steering is a little too light for my liking but it's much better than BMW's first attempts at electronic power steering. Granted, it's no 3 Series, nor an M Sport, but for a crossover, it handles well. Of course, you can't fight physics but adjust your expectations and the X5 will prove to be a surprisingly involving steer.
As someone who isn't a fan of crossovers, the X5 has changed my opinion on these wagons on tall tires. Yes, it doesn't have the off-road capabilities of Land Cruisers or Patrol Royales, but it drives so well that there were times I had the impression that I was driving something lower to the ground. The all-wheel drive system can get you out of trouble for most of the time, so long as you don't head to hardcore trails. In some ways, it reminds me of the old 5 Series I had with its combination of space, soft ride and good handling.
The impressive package doesn't come cheap. Then again, it has a BMW roundel so it perhaps comes as no surprise. At Php 5,590,000, it's out of reach for most but when you think about it, it's not that bad for a large luxury crossover with a lot of badge appeal. It's priced lower than its rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz too. At the end of the day however, a luxury vehicle is never going to offer spectacular value, and it's mostly an emotional choice.
Nevertheless, the X5, even in its base form, is a great package you won't regret choosing when you go treat yourself to nice things.