Reviews

BMW X5 Reliability

The Ultimate Driving Machine’s ultimate luxury SUV.

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY The Drive Staff / LAST UPDATED ON March 16, 2021

Uwe Fischer/BMW AG

BMW’s X5 SUV was, and still is, one of the most well-known luxury vehicles on the market. Though some would argue that Land Rover’s Range Rover began the luxury SUV trend, there are others who’d rightly point to the original BMW X5, which debuted in 1999.

Since then, there have been four successive generations that run the gamut from sporty to “I may as well be King for the day” opulence. What that means, however, is that a lot of people have had their hands on the Ultimate Driving Machine’s luxury SUV. Customers have been putting hundreds of thousands of miles on them and running into all the manufacturing and reliability quirks you can think of.

Here at The Drive, we want you completely informed on your next vehicle purchase.If you’re looking at the BMW X5 and wondering about its reliability, well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this guide to help you gauge exactly that and ensure you don’t get hoodwinked. 

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability

Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

BMW X5 Specs

Vehicle Type: SUV

Doors: 4

Engine options: 2.0 L B47 I4-T (diesel), 3.0 L B58 I6-T (PHEV), 3.0 L B57 I6-T (diesel), 3.0 L B57 I6-QT (diesel), 4.4 L N63 V8-TT, 4.4 L S63 V8-TT

Total internal combustion range: 370 miles

Total hybrid range: 400 miles

Is The BMW X5 Reliable?

As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the BMW X5 is reliable or unreliable.

To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the X5’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The X5’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the X5’s issues throughout the years.

2020

Recall: Rearview Camera Image Malfunction/FMVSS 111, Possible Loss of Braking Assistance and ABS, Front Axle/Right Control Arm Not Welded Properly, Headlights Contain Non-conforming Lens/FMVSS 108, Extra Bolt Incorrectly Attached to Starter Motor, Loose Steering Column Shaft Bearing Plate, No Back-Up Camera Display Image/FMVSS 111, Steering Rack May Fail

Complaints: 5

2019

Recall: NA

Complaints: 0

2018

Recall: Risk of Shock or Fire from Charging Cable, Lower Control Arm May Break, Improperly Torqued Wishbone Suspension Bolts

Complaints: 10

2017

Recall: Coolant Leak Within EGR May Cause Fire, Incorrect Tire Information Label/FMVSS110, Passenger Frontal Air Bag Inflator May Rupture

Complaints: 27

Common BMW X5 Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all X5 models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic X5 offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

2011 Model Year Engine Stalling

Repair Costs: $7,000, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“I was driving my BMW x5 on July 17,2015 when the engine light came on for the second time. The car stalled and then died in the road while I was driving. This is the second time this has happened. Unlike the first time, I was able to re-start the car. The car sputtered and jerked and I was barely able to get it off the highway.

The car was towed to Moses BMW where they informed me the car was in "limp mode". I was told mechanics looked over the car and could find nothing wrong and have no idea at all why the car malfunctioned. They said it could have been an electrical issue, although they could not find anything to explain it. I am not waiting for another problem that puts lives in danger. Breaking down on the highway while driving twice is enough.

Since this has happened twice now, I very rarely drive my x5 because I don't feel safe in it. I also have not allowed my now 5 year old son to ride in the car at all. I have been driving a rental car until I get rid of the x5.” 

2008 Model Year: Water Leakage

Repair Costs: $10,000, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“My X5 E70 which was only 4 months out of its 3 year warranty and which only has traveled 58,500 kms was recently parked outside. We had a full day of heavy continuous rain, mindful though there was no flooding caused by the rain. Anyway I went to start the car and was unable to even access the car. Tried all keys and eventually gave up.

The following day the car started, I didn't drive it though. I took it the following day to the BMW dealership and explained it wouldn't start previously and then on the way to the dealership the car kept on stating it was about to immobilize itself, indicators kept stopping and starting along with a lot of flashing gadgets. BMW subsequently contacted me and advised that the water was unable to drain sufficiently from the sunroof drain tubes and water flooded into the tire recess and flooded the electrics; all of this was not readily visible. BMW have advised I need to deal with the issue through my insurance and seem unconcerned that an expensive supposedly well engineered car could have such a basic issue. I certainly would recommend not getting a sunroof and I will be looking at alternate car manufacturers.”

2013 Model Year: Transmission Issues

Repair Costs: $5,500, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“My car only has 53,000 miles with a transmission malfunction that costs $5,500 to fix!”

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.”

2021: 80/100

2020: 80/100

2019: 74/100

2018: 77/100

2017: 79/100

2016: 79/100

2015: 80/100

2014: 79/100

2013: 81/100

2012: 78/100

FAQs About the BMW X5

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is The X5 Expensive To Maintain?

A: They can be, though again, that depends on how you treat it, how the previous owner treated it, and if you’ve followed the X5’s regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Q: Is an X5 High Maintenance?

A: That depends on the generation and, more importantly, if you or the previous owner followed its regularly scheduled maintenance.

Q: How Many Miles Does an X5 Last?

A: According to Consumer Reports, new cars are all designed to exceed 8 years or about 200,000 miles. However, individual mileage may vary based on, as stated above, how you treat your car. 

Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the X5?

A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. If it’s a loose body panel, likely not. BMWs, however, are subject to higher prices for parts thanks to their global manufacture and shipping.  

Video

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote