BMW X5 Reliability, Problems, & Driving Experience

The BMW X5 began its life in 1999, just a few years prior to the release of the X3. BMW refers to the X5 as a SAV, or sport activity vehicle. The X5 is still in production today, now in it's 4th generation. In this article, we discuss the four generations of the X5 along with reliability, problems, and driving experience of each. There's a lot to discuss, so let's jump right in.

X5 Generations

The four generations of the X5 are:

  • E53 X5 (1999-2006)
  • E70 X5 (2007-2013)
  • F15 X5 (2014-2018) & F85 X5M (2015-2018)
  • G05 X5 (2019+)

Each X5 generation has a handful of gasoline and turbodiesel engines, too. The SAV offers many different configurations with a broad range of options and horsepower to meet your needs. We'll get more into the specifics below.

1) BMW E53 X5

BMW E53 X5Pin

The first generation X5 - the E53 chassis - hit the markets in 1999 and remained in production through 2006. BMW owned Land Rover at the time of E53 X5 development; this generation shares some components with the Range Rover L322 model. However, the X5 engines and electronic systems are still from BMW directly. Many of them are shared with the E39 5 series.

E53 X5 Engines & Common Problems

The X5 uses many different engines so covering every common problem in this post would be challenging. We'll provide an overview of reliability below. However, let's first lay out the E53 engines and provide links to helpful articles.

E53 X5 Reliability

If you click into any of the above posts you'll likely notice each E53 X5 engine has its share of problems. None of them are terribly unreliable, but we're also talking about BMW here. BMW's aren't built to be the ultimate reliable machines, and the X5 is no exception. It's also important to note - the E53 is currently in the ballpark of 14-21 years old. Low mileage examples may still be out there. However, age is often as tough as mileage on a car and engine. Rubber gaskets, hoses, seals, etc wear down with age. That doesn't mean the E53 X5 is unreliable, it's just something to consider.

On the bright side, the E53 generation began before the world of endless electrical components. While these X5 engines may be aging and prone to problems the electricals are likely a bit less concerning than on newer models. The E53 X5 has also withstood the test of time well in many regards; the transmissions, suspension, brakes, and steering system are all reliable. Most reliability issues will really come down to the engine. However, again, the E53 is only getting older and almost any problems are fair game.

E53 X5 Performance & Driving

Gasoline powered E53 X5 models offer anywhere from 228 horsepower on the 3.0L inline-6 up to 355 horsepower from the 4.8is V8. The 355 horsepower N62 X5 was capable of 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. This is pretty stout performance for the early 2000's. For comparison, the 2003 Mustang GT was capable of 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds. Of course, this is what the X5 was designed to do. It's supposed to be a large, comfortable vehicle that retains sporty performance.

That said, the E53 X5 isn't the best off-roading car. It's not the best for towing. It's not the biggest SAV/SUV around. This applies to many of the X5 models we discuss throughout the rest of this post. They're not built to be the best at any one thing, but rather the X5 is built to be a well rounded vehicle. It can tow moderate loads, comfortably fit a family, do some minor off-roading, and offer respectable performance on the road.

The E53 was a large success due to these abilities. It paved the way forward for BMW to break into the SUV market. In summary, the E53 X5 is a well rounded car that still does a lot of things well - even to this day. We also think the E53 aged well as it's still a nice looking vehicle.

2) BMW E70 X5

BMW E70 X5Pin

The success of the E53 BMW ultimately led to the release of the X3 and X6 and continuation of the X5. The X5 received its first major overhaul for model years 2007-2013 in the form of the E70 X5 chassis. As BMW covered the market for smaller SAV's with the X3 they actually increased the size of the E70 X5. It sits 2.4" wider and 6.5" longer than the outgoing E53. The E70 also received a handful of technological updates; these include iDrive, comfort access, heads up display, active steering, and active suspension to name a few.

E70 X5 Engines & Common Problems

Sticking with the trend, the E70 X5 is available in a handful of different configurations. BMW also took things a step further with an X5M variant for those wanting a ridiculous amount of power and performance. Below are links to some articles for E70 X5 common problems:

E70 X5 Reliability

Well, there are quite a few engines for the E70 generation X5. Each of the gasoline engines has its fair share of problems. However, we recommend avoiding the 50i variant with the N63 engine. It's the original N63 engine in the E70, which was plagued with many issues. Later N63 engines found in the F15 and G05 is a significant reliability improvement. The naturally aspirated N52 and N62 engines are likely the best bet for reliability. X5 35i models with the N55 engine should be solid, but the engine does have a few common (and expensive) oil leaks. The S63 engine in the X5M is a stout motor that's pretty reliable. However, basic maintenance is expensive on the X5M due to large brakes, tires, etc.

Outside of engines, the E70 X5 is a pretty reliable car. They do have a few more electronics than the previous E53. BMW's sometimes get electrical gremlins as they age so that's something to consider. Expect the transmission, suspension, brakes, and steering system to be very reliable on the E70. It's also important to note - the engines are all great internally. It's all the stuff around them like gaskets, seals, coolant hoses, water pumps, and expansion tanks that have issues. Most of this stuff is reasonably cheap to repair if you're able to DIY.

Overall, the E70 X5 earns an "OK" for reliability. The expensive stuff like engine internals, transmissions, etc are stout. It's all the stuff around the engine that can turn expensive. The early E70 models are also getting fairly old, which can increase maintenance and repair requirements.

E70 X5 Performance & Driving

The N52 inline 6 provides the least power - out of the gasoline engines - with 268 horsepower. Still respectable. However, it pales in comparison to the 547 horsepower and 502 torque from the S63 engine in the X5M. The remaining gasoline engines come in around 300-400 horsepower. These engine offerings should encompass the needs for most in the SUV market.

The 268hp N52 is plenty for those primarily wanting a spacious, comfortable, and sporty X5. BMW's X5M sacrifices some comfort in favor of a more aggressive SUV that can run with some seriously fast, much smaller performance cars. Those who plan to tow or off-road are likely best suited to the diesel models or the mid-range N55, N62, and N63 engines.

The E70 X5 was a solid update over the previous E53 generation. It's a slightly larger SUV overall that offers a great combination of space, comfort, towing, off-roading, and on-road performance. Certain models handle specific tasks better or worse than others. However, the E70 X5 line-up has something for everyone and remains a well-rounded SUV.

3) BMW F15 X5 & F85 X5M

BMW F85 X5MPin

The third-generation X5 rolled out for model year 2014 sitting on the F15 chassis. BMW also designed a new F85 chassis for the X5M models. Through this section we'll simply refer to the F15 as encompassing the F85, too. The F15 models grew a fraction wider and an inch longer than the previous E70 models. Most importantly, BMW worked on reducing weight for the F15 X5. Similarly equipped it's nearly 150-200 pounds lighter than the E70. Of course, being a newer vehicle it comes loaded with more standard tech and more options. Looks are subjective, but we believe this is the best looking X5 to date.

F15 X5 Engines & Common Problems

Below is an outline of the F15 X5 engines and links to common problems:

  • 35i X5 - N55 3.0L inline 6 turbo
  • 50i X5 - N63tu 4.4L V8 twin turbo
  • X5M - S63tu 4.4L V8 twin turbo
    • X5M S63tu Common Problems (In progress)
  • 40e X5 - PHEV N20 2.0L inline 4 turbo
  • 25d - N47 and B47 inline 4 twin turbo diesel
  • 30d - N57 inline 6 turbodiesel
  • 40d - N57 inline 6 twin turbo diesel
  • M50d - N57 inline 6 triple turbo diesel

F15 X5 Reliability

In the past decade, BMW has made some solid improvements to engine reliability. The N55 35i X5 models are likely the least reliable of the group. However, even the N55 is a respectable engine aside from a few common oil leaks and cooling system issues. BMW's N20 engine has some common issues with the timing chain, but it's a solid motor otherwise. Finally, the N63tu is a huge upgrade over the previous generation N63 engine. Both the N63tu and S63tu are great engines all around. However, the larger V8 higher-end models will likely cost a bit more in maintenance.

The BMW F15 is definitely a reliability improvement over the previous E53 and E70 X5's. Stout transmissions, suspension, brakes, and steering system remain. It's rare to experience any of those issues other than standard maintenance. These engines are a decent bit more reliable than some of the engines in previous generations. All things considered, expect the F15 X5 to be reliable. However, it is a BMW SUV so expect costs of ownership to be higher than average compared to smaller cars or more reliable brands, like Honda or Toyota.

F15 X5 Performance & Driving

BMW's N55 inline 6 turbo is the weakest gasoline engine of the group with 302 horsepower. Meanwhile, the X5M receives a shattering 567 horsepower and 553 torque from its S63tu twin turbo 4.4L V8. It's also good for a 4.2 second 0-60mph sprint. Highly impressive performance for an SAV. However, the F85 X5M does sacrifice some things in favor of insane performance figures.

Avoid the X5M if you're more so in the market for a great all-around SUV and care less about performance. The lowered powered N55, N63tu, and N20 hybrid still provide respectable performance and are better rounded SUV's. The same goes for all of the diesels. All F15 X5's are great cars that can do a little bit of everything at a pretty high level.

4) BMW G05 X5

BMW G05 X5Pin

BMW's fourth-generation X5, the G05, recently rolled out in 2018 and is the current X5 in production. Sticking with the trend, the G05 grows 1 inch longer and 3 inches wider compared to the F15 X5. Unlike the previous generation, the BMW X5M shares the same G05 chassis as the standard X5 models. As the newest models, the G05 comes loaded with the most tech and features. Despite the X5 continuing to grow in size and features it's actually become lighter and lighter. A similarly equipped G05 comes in about 50-100 pounds lighter than the F15.

G05 X5 Engines & Common Problems

Fourth-generation G05 X5 models have the following engines and common problems:

  • 40i X5 - B58 3.0L inline 6 turbo
    • B58 40i X5 Common Problems
  • 50i X5 - N63tu3 4.4L V8 twin turbo
  • X5M - S63 4.4L V8 twin turbo
    • S63 X5M Common Problems (In progress)
  • 30d X5 - B57 inline 6 turbodiesel
  • M50d X5 - B57 inline 6 quad turbo diesel

G05 X5 Reliability

There are a lot of positive things for G05 X5 reliability. For one, these engines are some of the most reliable BMW engines of the past couple decades. The B58 is awesome. Earlier we said to avoid the N63 50i models. However, the N63tu3 in the G05 generation is basically a completely different engine from top to bottom. It's also highly reliable as with the S63tu powered X5M. All the G05's are powerful engines, though. Standard maintenance can be more expensive than your average car or SUV. This is especially true for the X5M.

Another thing the G05 has going for it is age. Most G05's should still be under warranty, and for those with a deep wallet you can buy a brand new one. Time will tell how well the G05 X5 ages, but all signs are green so far. The B58, N63, and S63 in this generation are all great engines. All G05 X5's also have reliable transmissions, suspension, steering systems, etc. Chances are you'll have a solid, reliable experience with any of these SUV's. We suspect they'll be prone to a few of the typical BMW engine issues as they near 6-8+ years old and 80,000+ miles. A lot of these engines are newer so it's tough to say much about the long run. However, BMW has made a few solid updates to its engines that should minimize certain failures.

G05 X5 Performance & Driving

All gasoline powered G05 X5 models provide truly impressive performance. That's not to say the previous generations didn't, too. However, the G05 has taken a step towards next level performance. The slowest 335 horsepower B58 model reaches 60mph in a mere 5.5 seconds. Standard X5 50i's feature 456 horsepower and make it to 60 in 4.7 seconds. X5 M50i models receive a more potent N63 capable of 523 horsepower and 4.3 second 0-60 times. Finally, the X5M Competition boasts an incredible 617 horsepower and hits 60 in 3.7 seconds. All of these numbers are highly impressive for a family SAV that's become larger and larger over time.

As with the previous generations, the X5M truly provides breathtaking performance. However, it does sacrifice some abilities in favor of borderline supercar-like performance. Stick with the diesel models, B58, or N63 for a great all around SUV that still provides great performance. All of these engines can also be easily tuned for an extra 60-100+ horsepower. Today, the G05 X5 is truly a shining example of what a sport utility vehicle should be.

BMW X5 Summary

The X5 has changed quite a bit throughout the years. It's nearly a foot longer and 6" wider than the early E53 generation. Despite getting larger and larger, the newest F15 and G05 models actually managed to shed some weight. As with most cars, power and performance has continually trended up for the X5 throughout the generations. However, they're all very stout performers for their times. Even the lower power models should offer enough performance for those looking for a well-rounded SUV/SAV. Meanwhile, performance enthusiasts should appreciate the high power N63 and S63 twin turbo V8's.

We believe the X5 has something to offer for everyone. This remains true across the E53, E70, F15, and G05 generations. They're great all-around SUV's and the decision likely comes down to budget, performance, and/or reliability. If budget allows we believe the newest F15 and G05 X5's will offer by far the best balance of performance and reliability. The G05 is an excellent example as the engines found in this generation offer highly improved reliability over many BMW engines of the past couple decades.

That said, it's hard to go wrong with any of the X5 models. If you're buying an older example take your time and find one that's been well maintained. Also, look for something in your budget that meets your needs and goals for the car. The X5 is truly an excellent SAV that has a little something for everyone.

What X5 do you own, or which are you considering? Drop a comment and let us know!

Or check out of X3 Guide if you're torn between an X3 or X5

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3 thoughts shared

  1. We have a 2015 x5 diesel and love it. It pulls our 19 foot airstream without issues. Just hit about 80k miles and running strong. Other than a sensor problem, no issues to date.

  2. help my 2008 x5 e70 had park brake failure, got a replacement sadly from china and this failed again after two months. now sitting at panel shop for unrelated ding and park brake has decided to initiate but can’t release
    the replacement park brake. manual release in boot is just a loop of steel cable and lifting it does not cause a manual release…. any ideas? car is not going anywhere fast

  3. I love our 2011 X5M and agree that it has a great engine. I do all maintenance by myself and it saves me a lot of money. One of the best Bimmers I have/had for sure!