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2012 BMW X5

$11,230 — $23,758 USED
Sport Utility
5-7 Seats
17-22 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 5 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Performance potential
  • Fuel efficiency of xDrive35d
  • Upscale cabin materials
  • Much improved iDrive system

The Bad

  • Reliability
  • Small cargo area
  • Gets pricey with options
2012 BMW X5 exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2012 BMW X5
  • Turbocharged six-cylinder or twin-turbo V-8
  • Turbo-diesel six-cylinder (xDrive35d)
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission (xDrive35i, xDrive50i)
  • Regenerative braking
  • Standard AWD
  • Available 555-hp X5 M

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2012 BMW X5. It competes with the Audi Q5 and Acura MDX.

by Kelsey Mays -

Like an outstanding athlete saddled with an attitude problem, the 2012 BMW X5 has moments both of excellence and frustration.

You really want to love the SUV. But its driving flaws add up, and a decade of awful reliability stains any admiration. The X5 may appeal to some, but BMW has a lot to address in its next redesign, which may come as soon as the 2013 model year.

We tested a BMW X5 xDrive35i, whose turbo six-cylinder slots below the xDrive50i's twin-turbo V-8. BMW also offers a turbocharged six-cylinder diesel in the BMW X5 xDrive35d. After a host of updates for 2011, the X5 changed little for 2012; compare the two here. Five seats and all-wheel drive are standard, and an optional third row brings seating capacity to seven.

We cover the 555-horsepower X5 M separately on Cars.com, but you can compare it with the regular BMW X5 here.

Lagging Power
The BMW X5's 300-hp gasoline six-cylinder eats up the passing lane, turning 50 mph into 75 mph with hardly a dent to its reserves. Its 8-speed automatic transmission delays a bit kicking down, but the drivetrain's abundant power across the rev range masks the lag, and a Sport mode holds lower gears longer, lessening the need for a downshift at all.

The problem is getting to all that power.

Accelerator lag spoils the BMW X5's fun. Editors called the gas pedal hard to modulate, disconnected or just plain delayed. Throwing the transmission into Sport changes little. The light turns green, you step down, and the BMW X5 xDrive35i &hel...

by Kelsey Mays -

Like an outstanding athlete saddled with an attitude problem, the 2012 BMW X5 has moments both of excellence and frustration.

You really want to love the SUV. But its driving flaws add up, and a decade of awful reliability stains any admiration. The X5 may appeal to some, but BMW has a lot to address in its next redesign, which may come as soon as the 2013 model year.

We tested a BMW X5 xDrive35i, whose turbo six-cylinder slots below the xDrive50i's twin-turbo V-8. BMW also offers a turbocharged six-cylinder diesel in the BMW X5 xDrive35d. After a host of updates for 2011, the X5 changed little for 2012; compare the two here. Five seats and all-wheel drive are standard, and an optional third row brings seating capacity to seven.

We cover the 555-horsepower X5 M separately on Cars.com, but you can compare it with the regular BMW X5 here.

Lagging Power
The BMW X5's 300-hp gasoline six-cylinder eats up the passing lane, turning 50 mph into 75 mph with hardly a dent to its reserves. Its 8-speed automatic transmission delays a bit kicking down, but the drivetrain's abundant power across the rev range masks the lag, and a Sport mode holds lower gears longer, lessening the need for a downshift at all.

The problem is getting to all that power.

Accelerator lag spoils the BMW X5's fun. Editors called the gas pedal hard to modulate, disconnected or just plain delayed. Throwing the transmission into Sport changes little. The light turns green, you step down, and the BMW X5 xDrive35i … hesitates. It's maddening.

The 265-hp BMW X5 xDrive35d, which we last drove in 2009, runs short on steam at higher revs but starts off strong, thanks to less initial lag, a gutsy diesel engine and a more decisive transmission — with six gears instead of eight. We haven't driven the 400-hp xDrive50i, but BMW says its twin-turbo V-8-powered version hauls you to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Those are Porsche Boxster numbers, but they'll mean little in everyday driving if the lag persists. If you drive the xDrive50i back-to-back with the others, click the link at the end of this review to email me your assessment.

Ride & Handling
Our test car had BMW's $3,500 Adaptive Drive option. It combines adaptive shocks with active stabilizer bars to minimize body roll, with a stiffer Sport mode — independent of the transmission's Sport mode — for more aggressive driving. As such, the X5 stays planted over broken pavement and fights midcorner lean. The brakes impress, with powerful, linear stopping power. Too much spirited driving, however, reveals limitations. Crank the X5 into a hard corner, even in Adaptive Drive's Sport mode, and the initial wallow and pushy nose reminds you it's no 3 Series.

The steering drives the point home: There's meager power assist at low speeds and numb feedback around town. A $1,550 Active Steering option varies the steering ratio for improved feedback and less effort. Active Steering has impressed us in other BMWs, and the BMW X5 could well follow suit. But the standard setup disappoints, and the X5's yacht-like turning circle — 42 feet! — will have you cursing the low assist in close quarters.

It's hard to discern a difference in ride comfort between Adaptive Drive's Sport and regular modes. Either way, our X5 soaked up large bumps but fell into wavy up-and-down rhythms on uneven highway. Small imperfections peppered the cabin where our diesel X5, which had a fixed suspension, smothered them out. BMW offers standard and sport-tuned versions of the fixed suspension. Whichever you choose, save the money and skip the adaptive setup.

The Inside
BMW has yet to address the ill-fitting dash panels we noted in past X5 reviews, but the cabin feels rich otherwise, with low-gloss finishes, padding along your knees and elbows, and real wood and aluminum trim. Where the X3 gets cheap below eye level, the X5 stays consistent. BMW overhauled the earlier BMW X5 navigation system's wretched iDrive controller for 2011. It's much easier to use, albeit still less intuitive than Mercedes' Comand controller.

My 6-foot frame had a couple of inches' rearward seat travel to spare, and headroom in our moonroof-equipped model was excellent. Ditto for the sightlines. Thanks to large windows and oversized side mirrors, the X5 hides little — and rams home the fact you can't see a damn thing out of its sibling X6 crossover.

Typical for BMW, the X5's base seats are firm, but contour-adjustable seats and bolstered sport seats, both with unique cushioning, are optional. The second row has good legroom and headroom, but the seat sits too low to the ground, resulting in raised knees. Despite myriad other amenities, it doesn't adjust, as the seats in some competitors do. The optional third row can suffice for kids; don't consign any adults to it.

Cargo room behind the second row totals 35.8 cubic feet; with both rows folded, the BMW X5 has 75.2 cubic feet. Those figures beat the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, but the Home Depot crowd might favor BMW's Japanese competition. The Acura MDX and Lexus RX top out past 80 cubic feet.

Get the optional third row, and the resulting 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind it is generous — 8.2 cubic feet more than the MDX with its third row raised.

Safety, Features & Pricing
In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the BMW X5 scored the top mark, Good, in front, side and rear impacts. The SUV hasn't undergone IIHS' roof-strength test. If you buy the optional third row, beware: The BMW X5's curtain airbags don't cover it, as the curtains in the Q7 and MDX do. (Neither IIHS nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration evaluates third-row crash protection, so the BMW X5 and other vehicles with the same oversight skate by.) Click here to see a full list of safety features, and here for our evaluation of child seats.

Bad reliability has tarnished the X5 for a decade. Today's V-8 models rate average, but six-cylinders are poor. European luxury SUVs are a dubious bunch, but even among this mechanic-needy group, the X5 stinks, and BMW's four-year warranty is only par for the course.

The BMW X5 xDrive35i starts at $47,200, in line with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Q7 but a bit pricier than the MDX. In typical BMW fashion, many features that are standard on the competition — heated front passenger and driver seats, leather seats, a moonroof — are optional. Shell out the cash, and the luxury options go sky-high — among them are a rear entertainment system, multiple parking cameras, quad-zone climate control, a third-row seat, a panoramic moonroof, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a leather-lined dashboard and a massaging driver's seat. Check all the boxes, and a V-8 BMW X5 can balloon to nearly $90,000.

X5 in the Market
A lot of shoppers still choose the X5 for its sharp styling, decent utility and an interior that lives up to BMW's luxury reputation. Through 12 years and two generations, it's been a runaway hit; only the redesigned 5 Series and venerable 3 Series outsell today's model.

But the BMW X5 is slipping, confounded by problems large and small. BMW builds a lot of truly ­fun cars — and the first-generation BMW X5, despite its size, fit the bill. I'd like to see the nameplate ascend there again.

Send Kelsey an email  

 

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.5
63 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.2)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Love it

by SuziCue from Kyle, Texas on September 20, 2018

This BMW X5 is in amazing condition and it drives like it is new. I would definitely recommend it to a friend. Check it out! Read full review

(4.0)

Capable performer

by JGipp on August 27, 2018

This is the second BMW X5 i've owned. The first one was totalled out after a deer hit otherwise I would still be driving it. I have the X50i and it is a very capable high performance vehicle. Fun to ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2012 BMW X5 currently has 7 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 BMW X5 has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by BMW

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Certified Pre-Owned Elite with less than 15,000 miles; Certified Pre-Owned with less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    1 year/unlimited miles from expiration of 4-year/50,000-mile new car warranty

  • Powertrain

    N/A

  • Dealer Certification Required

    196-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2012 X5 Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The X5 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker