BMW X5, anyone ever done one?

madmax718

Explorer
its a fine platform for about 90 percent of driving. If your not planning on getting hunters rash on your ride, you should be just fine with just about anything.
 

Frank

Explorer
I meant to post this a few months ago but time moves fast. Regardless, over the summer, I attended the BMW performance driving school. We went thinking that the entire day would be spent driving cars, but spent several hours behind the wheels of X5's. Why BMW doesn't advertise these capabilities is beyond me. They were very impressive.

(the music is an inside joke)
http://youtu.be/Ta0a0uXbO0w
 

dcg141

Adventurer
Bringing back this old thread. I have a X5 now and use as a touring camp/road trip vehicle. I have never had anything chew up long hwy mileage like this thing. Tows my small enclosed trailer like its not even there. I actually wanted something I could not "build". I have my Jeep aka "money hole" and its a Jeep..its great off road and is marginal on road. Now I only use the Jeep when I know the off road will be rough. Everything else and I pull out the X5, even light off road. Its an 06 with the 315 hp 4.4 V8. Gets 17-18 mpg on the hwy and will haul ***. Drives like a big sports car. Most of my serious off roading involves my KTM and alot of physical exertion. So getting to and from those excursions in comfort is really nice.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Bringing back this old thread. I have a X5 now and use as a touring camp/road trip vehicle. I have never had anything chew up long hwy mileage like this thing. Tows my small enclosed trailer like its not even there. I actually wanted something I could not "build". I have my Jeep aka "money hole" and its a Jeep..its great off road and is marginal on road. Now I only use the Jeep when I know the off road will be rough. Everything else and I pull out the X5, even light off road. Its an 06 with the 315 hp 4.4 V8. Gets 17-18 mpg on the hwy and will haul ***. Drives like a big sports car. Most of my serious off roading involves my KTM and alot of physical exertion. So getting to and from those excursions in comfort is really nice.
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I love the way these look (ditto for the X3) but my biggest fear is an expensive repair - see the OPs post #45: $8k in repairs. THAT is one thing that would kill such a vehicle for me.
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My impression of BMW cars (and Audi, too) is that when they run, they run awesomely, handle well and are a blast. But when they break, you will curse the day you were born because they are hideously expensive to repair and typically require specialty shops (IOW the gas station in Resume Speed, MT will not be able to do anything other than call a tow truck for you to take it to the nearest big city.)
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It's funny that I'm so leery of BMW cars because in 3 years I've put 17,000 trouble-free miles on this:
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My 2002 R1150R Roadster, "The Aggressive Bee." Has been stone-axe reliable since I got it in 2013 and I've even done 2 "saddlesore 1000" rides on it (rode 1000+ miles in <24 hours.)
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I'd love to believe that the horror stories about BMWs needing costly repairs are just a myth but then I see things like the OP's post above and it just reinforces my prejudices. Which is a shame because they do make gorgeous cars!
 

dcg141

Adventurer
I have owned 2 3 series cars. I fact my wifes DD is an 04 330i. Yea its expensive when it needs repairs but I buy them cheap and pay cash for them. When repairs come I just bite the bullet and do them. The key to BMW ownership is getting a really good independent BMW shop to do a inspection and pay for what they suggest. My experience with them is of you stay on top of things the cost of ownership is not that bad. People get scared of them after 100,000 miles so the values plummet. I grab them cheap and fix them as needed. BTW the 330 is getting close to 300,000 miles. I paid $8000 for it and have done about $4000 to $5000 in repairs over 8 years of ownership. Of course there are BMW's and there are BMW's ie 7 series are notorious money pits. 3 series on the other hand are not so bad. The X5 I have is the older E53 and the word on them from my BMW guy is they are not so bad with repairs and way less expensive than the newer X's.
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I have owned 2 3 series cars. I fact my wifes DD is an 04 330i. Yea its expensive when it needs repairs but I buy them cheap and pay cash for them. When repairs come I just bite the bullet and do them. The key to BMW ownership is getting a really good independent BMW shop to do a inspection and pay for what they suggest. My experience with them is of you stay on top of things the cost of ownership is not that bad. People get scared of them after 100,000 miles so the values plummet. I grab them cheap and fix them as needed. BTW the 330 is getting close to 300,000 miles. I paid $8000 for it and have done about $4000 to $5000 in repairs over 8 years of ownership. Of course there are BMW's and there are BMW's ie 7 series are notorious money pits. 3 series on the other hand are not so bad. The X5 I have is the older E53 and the word on them from my BMW guy is they are not so bad with repairs and way less expensive than the newer X's.
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That's a good take on it. I may yet go to a Beemer one day for a DD. I really like the X3 and X5 and the fact that you can get them in a manual transmission (at least up through the early 2000's - not sure about the later models) adds to the allure.
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However, when considering an "overlanding" vehicle, the problems with breakdowns are not just a money issue, there's also the question of when and where they break down.
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If my DD breaks down on my way home from work or while out running errands on the weekend, no biggie, I live in a major metropolitan area so I can have it towed to a dealer or independent mechanic and repaired.
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But if I'm in the Maze district of Utah, or somewhere in Death Valley, or the back country of Big Bend and I have a catastrophic failure, I am well and truly screwed because the local mechanics likely won't touch it (that's assuming I even COULD get it towed out of a back-country area) and then I'd be looking at a bill for hundreds of $$ just to get the thing TO a mechanic (which might be 500 miles or more away.)
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That's why my current "overlanding" vehicle is a Chevy Suburban. Any mechanic in any Podunk shop can work on a Chevy truck (ditto for Ford, Dodge, and even the popular imports like Toyota, Nissan, etc.)
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The aluminum suspension parts dont handle heavy loading and rough terrain very well. An X5 was professionally built up as a chase vehicle for Ewan Mcgregor's run of the big trans Sahara. They were able to deal with engine and systems issues. But complete failure of the Aluminum rear suspension arms was the final blow. Pretty sure they left it in the desert some place after the 2nd failure cost them big.

I would stick to vehicles with steel suspension parts for Expedition / heavy hauling efforts.
 

dcg141

Adventurer
Both valid points. If i were headed to Death Valley it would be in my Jeep for sure. My trailer is all aluminum and weights maybe 1500 lbs fully loaded. I built it specifically for the Jeep to handle and any small suv.
 

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RoyJ

Adventurer
The aluminum suspension parts dont handle heavy loading and rough terrain very well. An X5 was professionally built up as a chase vehicle for Ewan Mcgregor's run of the big trans Sahara. They were able to deal with engine and systems issues. But complete failure of the Aluminum rear suspension arms was the final blow. Pretty sure they left it in the desert some place after the 2nd failure cost them big.

I would stick to vehicles with steel suspension parts for Expedition / heavy hauling efforts.
That's a bit of a generalization. The Raptor uses aluminum control arms, and have been put through some very rough stuff (tougher than most expedition style usage). New Land Rovers also use aluminum, and have been all over the globe.

I'd contribute the X5's failure to the ultimate design of the vehicle - a desert chase vehicle was probably the last thing on BMW's mind!
 

cj-10

Member
The E53 is one of the worst cars I have ever owned. It drives great when everything is working properly. They have terrible factory flaws like valley pan gasket that requires the engine to be pulled and the leaky valve seals which requires machining of the heads also the gear in the transfer case is setup to fail down to little things like rusted out rear break lines and bad wiring. If I would not have had a warranty or done major jobs myself it would have been over $30k in repairs. The X-drive system is terrible. I would be terrified to take it off the pavement. You would destroy the sway bar links instantly.
 
I use my (deceased) wife's X5 35d (diesel) for a DD. It is deleted, gets 20mpg in winter, 23 mpg summer in city driving, >30mpg steady highway cruising at~70mph. It's a great DD, except I liked the 4WD system on our old 88 325iX a lot better. It had LSDs in center and rear diffs that hydromechanically could go to full lock. Far superior to ABS type "traction control".
I would never take it "offroad". I'd rather do that in the U500 (at least I have the Star computer, spare computer modules, oodles of spare parts and tools) with its' ground clearance, diff locks, ABS and huge tires. Or in my not yet completed FJ35 wagon with Cummins 6AT, NV4500, lockers, mild lift and 8.25R16s.
Charlie
 

BringMeWinch

New member
Add me to the list of noobs trying to take a BMW X5 where it probably shouldn't go. I've been wrenching on BMWs for a long time and admire the first gen X5 for its (in BMW land) rugged build. I can't wait to read comments on this: IMO, the 2000-2006 X5 is more durable than the later models and while it's clearly not meant to go rock crawling, seems to have enough Rover genes to tackle some dirt. It shuns troublesome electric coolant pumps, has a full size spare, more steel suspension parts than its brethren, enough ground clearance to leave pavement, a metal transmission pan that would survive minor contact and a few spots to secure a home-made skid plate/ sump guard for when the bottoming out isn't as minor. I've managed to fit 265/60-18 A/T tires at stock ride-height. So far the 4 wheel air suspension has survived and the electronic transfer case on my 2006 MY has done everything I've asked... so far.
That was the good. Like I said, been working on BMWs long enough to know my luck will run out eventually. I have no plans to get too far out there in the woods, but after our trip to Utah and Nevada with a few "road less traveled" detours, a part of me wants to see just how much I can get away with. So either I look for a vehicle with all the useful off-road attributes that drives on road like a truck or I make some improvements to the one I already have, bought and paid for. I'm new to this forum, but I plan to share whatever progress I make in in this endeavor.
 
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