BMW x3 vs x5

BMW has being doing more crossovers in its SUV segment. While the x5 was predominantly the flagship model in the SUV segment now we have the x3 and x1. The x5 is the bigger brother to the x3 with its larger cargo area and more comfy interior. It also can seat seven persons hence making it an ideal companion for travel excavations. But, how well does it perform against the x3. This review, shows you side by side how the two SUVs perform against each other.

What are the key differences between the x3 and x5?

BMW x3
BMW x5
2.0 liter 1-4
3.0 liter 1-6
Maximum seating capacity
Maximum cargo (cubic feet)
Fuel economy (city)
23 mpg
20 mpg
Fuel economy (highway)
30 mpg
26 mpg
258 lb-ft
330 lb-ft

X3 vs. X5 – How do they compare?


The BMW x3 is a compact crossover while the X5 is the midsize model. The engines differ a lot with the x3 spotting a 2.0 Liter engine that is capable of delivering 248HP and 258 lb-ft of torque. The X5 offers a more powerful engine 3.0 liter V6 engine that is capable of delivering more than 335HP at 330 lb-ft of torque. If you desire more power from your X3 you can upgrade to the six cylinder M version that comes with 382HP. The X5 engine performs better and is faster than the X3, you also get multiple engine options.

Fuel efficiency and comfort features

The smaller x3 engine means you are going to be getting better fuel economy at 30mpg for highways compared to the x5 24mpg. When it comes to standard comfort amenities you will get heated and cooled front seats in both cars as well as steering wheel mounted audio controls, leatherette seat trim and voice activated navigation. However, due to the higher price you are paying for the x5 you will expect to get a longer list of accessories like sunroof and better consoles and navigation. However, note that you can still pack your x3 with more executive features through various executive upgrades.

Cargo Handling and seating

The X5 is larger than the x3 and can handle 7 seated passengers as opposed to 5 on the x3. You also get a bigger cargo handling area of 72.3 cubic feet as opposed to the 62.7 cubic feet for the x3. What this means is that if you have a larger family then the x5 is the way to go. Though you pay extra for the car. The longer wheelbase on the x5 means you get more legroom and cargo space. Without folding the back seats in the x5 it still offers more storage space at 33.9 cubic feet as opposed to the x3 28.7 cubic feet. The difference becomes even more significant when you fold the seats.

X3 vs. X5 – A Comparison Overview

X3 – Overview

The x3 is compact BMW that is in-between the smaller x1 and the larger x5. It comes with some nice amenities like an 10.3” console, great safety features, enhanced handling and agility and you get some nice fuel efficiency to get you through city traffic without burning your pockets. For wheels you get 18” wheels, rear view camera and leatherette upholstery.

The x3 is available in two main versions; the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that is capable of delivering 228 Horsepower or the more powerful M40i engine that delivers 382 HP and get you from 0 to 60Mph in 4.4 seconds. This is better than the 6 seconds offered in the 2.0 liter engine.

On the dashboard you get super-sized 10.3” infotainment display with a matching display on the gauge display. Buyers can also opt for an upgrade and instead go with the 12.3” console. The screen comes with Apple CarPlay, in-dash navigation, and Android auto. You also get one USB port and Wi-Fi hotspot. For fuel economy the x3 does well coming in at 30mpg for highways and 23mpg for city traffic. The seating capacity is limited at 5 passengers but you do get plenty of cargo space of 62.7 cubic feet.

The x3 comes with some standard BMW amenities like Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel mounted audio controls, leatherette seat trim, heated and cooled front seats, and voice activated navigation. Like most BMW models you can request for more upgrades so as to make your car more executive. The rear occupants do also enjoy some comforts like reclining seatbacks and cushioning is present on all seats. This will come in handy for those long trips.

Like most of the other BMW models, the X3 is well-known for its safety features. You get standard automated emergency braking, available adaptive cruise control and standard lane departure warning.

What we liked:

  • Fuel efficient especially for city traffic and highways
  • Agile handling
  • More powerful M40i model
  • Affordable SUV with sedan handling

What we did not like:

The exterior mirrors are too small

X5 – Overview

The x5 combines a posh interior with excellent handling abilities both on and off-road. It also offers a wide range of engine options including a plug-in hybrid model and a superfast twin-turbo V8 engine. The vehicle is stylish and executive with some standard BMW amenities like leatherette seat trim, cooled front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and voice-activated navigation. To top it up there are numerous executive upgrade options available for customers. Some of the x5 competitors include the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE class.

For the 2022 models the existing xDrive50i has now being replaced with a hybrid xDrive45e. This engine is a turbocharged 3.0 liter in-line six with an electric motor that is capable of delivering a massive 389 of horsepower. However, the in-house 24kwh battery is only capable of delivering 30 miles of electric only driving. When it comes to performance the xDrive40i is capable of delivering 4.8 seconds from 0 to 60mph. Another thing you need to know about the x5 is that it offers three distinctive drivetrains – sDrive40i, xDrive40i which are powered by a turbocharged in-line six 335HP engine.

If you thing this is not enough you can go for the more powerful M50i which comes with a twin turbo V8 that is capable of delivering 523 horsepower. All the drivetrains are  powered by an eight-speed automatic transmission. The x5 is quite stable and handles great even at higher speeds.

If you go with the hybrid electric please note that its 24kwh battery is only good for 30 miles and can be charged at home on 110 volt and 220 volt outlets. With such massive engines you would expect the X5 to be a fuel guzzler but it is in fact quite economical. When put to various efficiency tests, the x5 was able to get 24 mpg on highways and 20mph on city traffic.

The interior of the x5 is quite luxurious and comfortable. It can seat 7 passengers with additional rear seat. You also get quite some cargo space at 72.3 cubic feet. While spacious the back rear seats will seat kids comfortably while adults may complain a bit due to leg room. Inside you have plenty of charging ports and the cabin is lined up with high quality materials. It is standard for the x5 to have front powered seats with memory.

You also have on all models panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable steering column, dual-zone automatic climate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power rear liftgate, remote start, massaging seats, customizable ambient lighting, acoustic glass, soft-close doors, and leather dashboard. Nothing has being left to chance when it comes to interior styling.

You also have many options for your x5 like Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio with some cool diamond-domed tweeters. Entertainment is via twin-12.3” displays with one screen serving as a digital gauge display. The car runs on the latest BMW iDrive software and this means you are going to be controlling the system through various gesture controls. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard on all model consoles.

What we liked:

  • Interior is super-charged with luxury features
  • Wide range of engines to choose from
  • Intuitive infotainment system with gesture controls
  • Spacious cabin with generous cargo handling space

What we did not like:

The third row is quite tight and only suitable for children

Verdict: So, which is better – x3 or x5?

For this one we will have to give it to the x5. The model comes with the benefit of multiple engine types to choose from. All the engines perform quite well with exceptional handling. For a large family the x5 offers generous cabin and cargo space with the only shortcoming that the third row seat can be quite uncomfortable and only suitable for kids. When it comes to luxury the x5 beats the x3 on multiple areas from the seats to the console.


Does the x5 have a hybrid models?

Yes, it does; the iDrive45e comes with a 24kwh battery that is capable of giving you 30 miles all electric

Can I do modifications for my x3?

BMW does allow their customers to make certain upgrades to their cars during purchase

Jurgen Shmidt works as an automotive engineer, his duties revolve around vehicle design, development manufacture, and testing. Shmidt is also involved in marketing, sales, and the after-sale care of cars, apart from his 8 hours job, he interacts with enthusiasts who have concerns or wish to learn about the various models of the BMW luxury cars. Shmidt believes that the demand for detailed information surpasses its availability and that is why he dedicates most of his free time, researching and compiling reliable information. The information compiled on bmwexpert has been derived from hands-on experience and not some snazzy press release, thus we believe you will find answers to your troubling questions about the BMW.

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