In this ultimate guide, I will break down all BMW X5 generations, highlighting BMW X5’s best years to buy and the worst BMW X5 years to avoid.
Drawing from authoritative sources such as NHTSA, J.D. Power, and Kelley Blue Book, I’ve comprehensively analyzed data, reviews, and first-hand accounts to present a detailed perspective on the most reliable BMW X5 years.
Get ready to journey through the X5’s storied lineage, discover BMW X5’s best and worst years, and understand the intricacies of its resale value fluctuations over time.
So, let’s dive right in.
Table of ContentsShow
BMW X5 Generations
The BMW X5, initially introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model, marked BMW’s foray into the luxury SUV segment. This first generation (E53) was a landmark for the Bavarian automaker, offering a blend of performance, luxury, and versatility.
Touted as a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) rather than an SUV, the X5 was built on a car-like platform which, combined with BMW’s signature driving dynamics, made it stand out in a segment dominated by more utilitarian offerings.
Below is a table providing a brief overview of all the BMW X5 generations from 2000 to the present:
|1st generation (E53)||2000-2006|
|2nd generation (E70)||2007-2013|
|3rd generation (F15/F85)||2014-2018|
|4th generation (G05/G18)||2019-Present|
Understanding generational changes is crucial as they often encapsulate the technological advancements, aesthetic evolutions, and performance tweaks that could be the deciding factor for many prospective buyers.
BMW X5 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years
In our comprehensive rankings and categorizations of the BMW X5’s best and worst years, we heavily consider various crucial factors, including but not limited to:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmunds owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
The upcoming graph combines all ratings from the sources mentioned using our in-house algorithm, providing a comprehensive view of the BMW X5’s performance.
Next, we’ll present a table categorizing all model years, distinguishing them as the best, neutral, or worst BMW X5 years based on combined metrics.
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
|1st generation (E53)||2005|
|2nd generation (E70)||2013||2012||2007|
|3rd generation (F15/F85)||2018||N/A||2014|
|4th generation (G05/G18)||2019|
When we refer to “Neutral Years,” we mean those model years that neither stood out exceptionally in terms of positive feedback nor did they garner significant negative feedback. They offer balanced performance and experience for the average owner.
It’s essential to understand that some factors such as the number of NHTSA recalls can paint a car in a less favorable light. A higher number of complaints and recalls generally indicates diminished vehicle reliability.
Let’s dive into the specifications of the BMW X5’s best, neutral, and worst years.
Best & Worst Years for BMW X5 1st Generation (2000-2006)
The BMW X5, introduced in 2000, marked BMW’s entry into the SUV segment coined as a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), fusing the brand’s sporty DNA with the practicality of a larger vehicle.
Later years – 2005 and 2006 are the BMW X5’s best years to buy from this generation. Some early year models – 2002, and 2003 are still reliable, but 2001, 2003, and 2004 are the BMW X5 years to avoid.
NOTE: Considering the high number of NHTSA recalls for the first-generation BMW X5, it is strongly recommended to do thorough research and check via VIN.
The Best Years: 2005, 2006
Despite being part of the tail end, 2005 and 2006 – BMW X5’s best years in this generation showcased significant improvements over their predecessors.
The powertrains offered a harmonious blend of performance and efficiency, delivering a driving experience that lived up to BMW’s sporty pedigree.
Technologically, these models were better equipped than earlier years, featuring advanced safety systems such as Dynamic Stability Control and optional adaptive headlights.
The 2006 version even saw a mild facelift, enhancing its aesthetic appeal.
However, despite these advancements, the 2006 X5 faced recalls concerning rear shock absorbers and Occupant Detection System (ODS). The lower rubber mount of these absorbers might not adhere correctly to its housing and ODS sensors might be defective.
The Neutral Years: 2002, 2003
The 2002 and 2003 BMW X5 models stand out as the neutral years due to their balanced mix of pros and cons.
These models expanded on trim and powertrain options, offering a more dynamic driving experience. The 2002 model, for instance, introduced a powerful 4.6is V8 engine, turning the X5 into a true performance SUV.
These years also witnessed advancements in technology, including BMW’s iDrive system, which was at its nascent stage. However, this system was often criticized for its complexity.
The 2003 model didn’t have any significant recalls, but owners frequently raised concerns about an oil separator issue, which could lead to fluid leaks and consequential smoke from under the hood.
The Worst Years: 2000, 2001, 2004
Undoubtedly, 2000, 2001, and 2004 are the BMW X5 years you should avoid.
The 2000 BMW X5 model suffered from faulty window regulators and malfunctioning windshield wipers.
Recalls were issued concerning the transmission gear position indicator switch in the 4.4l engine variants, which could disrupt electrical contacts and activate the emergency transmission program.
Another critical recall pertained to the brake pedal arm pivot shaft, potentially compromising brake performance.
In 2001, yet another recall was issued addressing brake line chaffing, which could lead to brake fluid loss and increased stopping distances.
As for the 2004 BMW X5, while it carried forward many enhancements from the previous years, it was plagued by two major recalls.
One concerned the battery cable insulated bulkhead connector, which posed a fire hazard due to overheating, and the other was related to the brake vacuum pump, which could reduce power-assist braking performance.
Additionally, owners often reported a jerky transmission in the 2004 model.
Best & Worst Years for BMW X5 2nd Generation (2007-2013)
Introduced in 2006 for the 2007 model year, the second-generation BMW X5 was set to build upon the success of its predecessor. 2013 is BMW X5’s only best year in this generation and 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 are the BMW X5 years to avoid.
NOTE: The 2nd-generation BMW X5 models have a considerably high number of NHTSA recalls and low ratings, therefore extra caution is needed. Do thorough research and check before purchasing.
The Best Years: 2013
With a relatively low number of NHTSA recalls and owner complaints, 2013 is the BMW X5’s best year in this generation. This model year benefits significantly from the lessons learned from previous iterations.
By this point, the powertrain options were thoroughly refined, with choices ranging from the base 3.0L inline-six engine to the more powerful 4.4L V8, and even an efficient diesel option for those seeking torque and fuel economy.
According to Consumer Reports, this generation’s models have an average fuel consumption of 12 mpg for city and 25 mpg for highway driving.
It also boasted BMW’s then-latest iDrive system, which had undergone several revisions to address earlier criticisms, making it more intuitive.
Safety features, such as lane departure warning and a head-up display, began to trickle down into the X5’s feature list.
2013 BMW X5 is the only model to hit 80 points in J.D. power in the second-generation X5 linage.
The Neutral Years: 2012
2012 marked a year of transition for the BMW X5.
While still offering many of the technological and luxury features the brand is known for, this year’s model sat squarely between the early challenges faced by the 2nd-gen models and the refinements of the 2013 edition.
Powertrain options remained similar to previous years but with enhanced fuel efficiency and some tweaks for better performance.
This year also saw a reduction in the number of recalls and complaints compared to the early years of this generation.
However, it still faced some challenges, notably a recall concerning the power-assist braking system, which, if malfunctioned, could increase the risk of a crash.
The Worst Years: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 BMW X5s were marred by a variety of issues, resulting in numerous recalls and customer complaints and thus are the BMW X5 years to “avoid like the plague”.
Here are some of the owner complaints and recalls for these BMW X5 model years. To see all 2007-2011 NHTSA BMW X5 recalls, and owner complaints click the links at the end.
The 2007 BMW X5 faced recalls concerning the rear brake disc, where incorrect materials were used, potentially leading to reduced braking performance.
In 2008, the X5 saw recalls related to the front driveshaft universal joint, which could break and impact vehicle handling.
Specifically for the 2008 BMW X5 SAVs equipped with 6-cylinder engines, BMW issued a recall concerning fuel pump malfunction which can cause engine stalling.
The 2009 BMW X5 wasn’t immune either, with recalls focused on potential fuel filter heater issues which could cause short circuits, leading to a fire risk, and engine belt idler pulley bolt which may loosen and break causing the vehicle to lose power steering assist unexpectedly and increasing the risk of a crash.
While showing improvements in some areas, the 2010 and 2011 BMW X5 models continued to grapple with recalls.
For instance, the 2010 BMW X5 model had a recall related to the fuel gauge displaying inaccurate readings, while the 2011 BMW X5 faced concerns regarding a potential power steering fluid leak, which could lead to a fire hazard.
Best & Worst Years for BMW X5 3rd Generation (2014-2018)
The third-generation BMW X5 was introduced in 2013 for the 2014 model year, marking a significant evolution in design, technology, and performance.
With impressive ratings, 2018 is BMW X5’s best year in this generation while 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 are the BMW X5 years to avoid.
The Best Years: 2018
What year BMW X5 is the most reliable? The 2018 BMW X5 model, and here is why:
By 2018, BMW had refined the X5 to near perfection. These years saw a more mature SUV, equipped with the best of BMW’s technological advancements.
The 2018 BMW X5 model year introduced optional laser headlights, a more advanced iDrive system with gesture control, and a sophisticated off-road package.
In terms of powertrain, customers had a broad selection, including the 3.0L turbocharged inline-six, the 4.4L twin-turbo V8, and plug-in hybrid variants, ensuring there was an X5 to meet diverse driving requirements.
Consumer Reports indicated the fuel consumption for the third generation X5 model at 14 mpg for city and 28 mpg for highway driving on average.
Safety was also front and center, with BMW’s Active Driving Assistant, including forward collision warning, blind-spot detection, and lane departure warning, becoming standard.
The Worst Years: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
The early years of this generation – 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 are the BMW X5 years to avoid.
Only the 2014 BMW X5 has relatively serious issues and 2015, 2016, and 2017 still have quite good ratings like 81 points from J.D. Power.
The 2014 BMW X5 model year had issues concerning the VANOS system, which adjusts the position of the intake and exhaust camshafts, leading to a recall. This could result in reduced engine performance and increased risk of an accident.
The 2015 BMW X5 continued to face problems, with recalls related to the airbag system. A malfunction could lead to airbags not being deployed in the event of a collision, significantly increasing the risk to occupants.
Moreover, the fuel pump flange in some models posed a potential leak risk, possibly leading to a fire.
The 2016 BMW X5 made strides in improving upon the X5’s reputation but wasn’t free from setbacks. This year was marked by issues concerning the child seat anchors, which might not have been welded properly, reducing the protection for the child in case of an accident.
2017 was the year when BMW began ironing out the majority of these challenges. However, a major recall was centered around the risk of the vehicle rolling away after being parked, due to a transmission malfunction.
This, coupled with concerns over the rear suspension, meant that while improvements were evident, the shadow of reliability issues still loomed.
BMW issued a recall in 2018 for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 BMW X5 xDrive35d SAV models equipped with an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) module with an integrated cooler concerning coolant mixing with diesel engine soot and melting the intake manifold which can increase the risk of a fire.
In 2021, BMW issued another recall for certain 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 X5 xDrive35d models considering high-pressure fuel pumps which may fail and cause the engine to stall.
Best & Worst Years for BMW X5 4th Generation (2019-Present)
The fourth-generation BMW X5 was unveiled in 2018 for the 2019 model year, ushering in a new era of luxury, technology, and performance for BMW’s mid-size SUV segment.
2019, 2022, 2023, and 2024 stand out as the BMW X5’s best years while 2020 and 2021 are the BMW X5 years to avoid in this generation.
The Best Years: 2019, 2022, 2023, 2024
2019, 2022, 2023, and 2024 are undeniably the best BMW X5 years in fourth generation linage.
BMW’s focus on refining and improving the X5 becomes evident in the 2019, 2022, 2023, and presumptively the 2024 models.
By 2022, BMW had introduced a wide array of technological advancements. The iDrive 7.0 system, standard on these models, offered an intuitive interface combined with voice-controlled features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became standard, ensuring seamless smartphone integration.
Safety, as always, was paramount. The 2022 model saw the addition of the BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional package, providing drivers with semi-autonomous driving capabilities and improved lane-keeping assist.
Powertrains offered in these years continued to provide a balance of efficiency and performance, with the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid variant gaining attention for its impressive electric range and reduced emissions without compromising on power.
The Worst Years: 2020, 2021
The beginning years of the fourth generation, namely 2020 and 2021, are the worst fourth-generation BMW X5 years and are recommended to avoid.
In 2020, a primary concern reported was related to the vehicle’s braking system. NHTSA documented issues where the brake assist could malfunction under certain conditions, potentially increasing the stopping distance and risk of an accident.
The 2021 model, despite boasting enhancements like a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for the sDrive40i and xDrive40i models, was not without issues.
Recalls were issued concerning the potential for fuel leaks within the engine compartment, increasing the risk of fires. Furthermore, certain models faced issues with the rearview camera not displaying the image correctly, which posed risks, especially during reverse maneuvers.
BMW X5 Average Resale Values
The following graph illustrates the average resale values of BMW X5 models over the years.
As we wrap up this guide, it’s pretty clear that the 2006, 2013, 2018, and newer models emerge as the best BMW X5 years worth considering.
Do you have any experiences with one of the BMW X5’s best or worst years? Which are the most reliable years for BMW X5, in your opinion?
Share your experiences and insights in the comments below!