The first thing that hit me getting into the 2013 BMW X5 is its comfortable and spacious interior. Once the X5 fires to life and I set off, the next thing that impresses is the direct and intuitive steering feel. It rivals that of some of the best sports cars in the world. As if the X5 says: “Yes, I am a BMW and I still hold the title of The Ultimate Driving Machine”.
This is a large, tall, nearly 5,000 lb vehicle and it won’t win many track sessions against smaller sports cars. Nonetheless, the X5 will hold its own against any SUV or Crossover out there. My test car had an ace up its sleeve, and it started with the letter ‘M’, as in M Sport and Performance packages. This equates to $4,100 worth of goodies that come directly from the M division. The M Sport suspension comes from the monstrous X5M and seems to defy the laws of physics by staying virtually flat through corners. You also get giant and light weight 20 inch M double spoke wheels that are staggered in size. The rears are wider at 315/35 and look menacing at full 11 inches of width.
My test car also had a weakness and it was under the hood. BMW’s smooth straight-6 twin-scroll turbo motor is an excellent power plant and the M package gives it an additional 15 horses to bring the total to 315 hp. However, it does not back up the muscular exterior looks, because the X5 is so heavy. This crossover would have done much better with a V8, which is also available and can be turned up to 430 horses with M pack. The six cylinder version is not a dog and the sport exhaust sounds wonderful. The six cylinder is backed up by the quick and smooth 8-speed automatic, and I managed 18.8 MPG after a week of driving on my standard test loop (mixed city and highway driving). However, this luxury people mover needs a stronger punch if you are really going for the sport.
The M exterior treatment includes wide body colored fender flares, M-like front and rear fascias, and large rectangular exhaust tips. The M wheels and the rest of M styling make this six cylinder look nearly identical to its macho X5M cousin. A casual eye may notice that there is something special about this X5. The overall character is aggressive and powerful, but not overdone. The xDrive35i and xDrive50i look identical after the M bits are added. However, a trained eye of an enthusiast will know that this is not a true X5M. The real deal has narrower squinted headlights and signature M quad exhaust tips.
The M package X5 wears run flat high performance summer tires, which are very dangerous in snowy conditions as I found out first hand. This rubber is OK on wet pavement and shows excellent performance in the dry, but these tires fail when you show it snow and or ice. I tried to venture out in my neighborhood during a snow storm. The xDrive all wheel drive got me moving without a lot of trouble, but when I needed to stop for a Stop sign – this X5 refused. Although I was going slow and braked early, it slid right through with ABS working overtime to no avail. If you live in the snow belt, you must get dedicated snow wheels and tires. No ifs or buts.
The 2013 BMW X5 comes in many flavors and most of the models are a big mouth-full to pronounce. This test car is an X5 xDrive35i Sport Activity with M Sport and Performance packages. Phew, that was a long name. Decoding this name is not that difficult. The ‘x’ in xDrive means all four wheels get power via BMW’s Intelligent AWD. The ’35i’ means that it has a turbo-charged straight six gasoline engine. The ‘Sport Activity’ is a little more tricky. It’s a trim level that sits above the base model and the Premium trim. ‘Sport Activity’ trim start at $58,595 (or nearly $10,000 more than the base X5) and it allows you to further option your X5 with unique exterior colors, interior combinations, and uber high tech features.
The level of customization possible on the X5 is simply mind boggling. I could write about all the options until my fingers fall off and you get dangerously bored, so I will spare you. Suffice it to say that BMW lets you add or decline a myriad of different options, so be prepared to spend some time thinking and deciding.
The X5’s interior is very functional and very spacious, however there is shortfall. If you searching for a crossover/SUV with true 3-row seating capability, the X5 is not it. My test car had a third row option and it’s one of the smallest I have seen. The second row does slide back-n-forth, but it still does not provide enough legroom for the way back. Perhaps, the third row would accommodate children who outgrew the booster, but have not yet hit the teenage growth spurt.
BMW compares the X5 to the Audi Q7 and Infiniti JX and these competitors are better at carrying seven passengers. However, no competitor can better BMW’s steering feel and handling characteristics. If you are looking for a comfortable five person luxury sports crossover, then you have to make a decision between the X5 and the Porsche Cayenne.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2013 BMW X5 xDrive35i Sport Activity M Sport Package a Lease It!
This decision is very simple. My test car stickered at $74,595 and had nearly every option you can add to xDrive35i. My opinion is: if you are choosing the M Sport package, you also need to include the 430 hp turbo V8. The xDrive50i does not cost much more, in fact you can get one for around $75,000 depending on what options you choose. I would give the V8 a definite Buy It.
Here is a full TFLcar video review of this X5.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.