2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d AWD SUV – Review

2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d 8 speed auto front view

Anthony Hood reviews the 2011 BMW X5 xDrive30d 8 Speed Automatic AWD SUV. The BMW X5 makes a great family wagon with the BMW driving experience tempering the AWD SUV experience.

The other day Rob rang me and said do you want to go for a drive in a BMW X5 and I said hand over the keys ill see you in a couple of days.

First impressions are good. This is one smooth looking car. When you hop inside you are surrounded by high quality leather and wood grain, even what little plastic there is, is good looking.

2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d 8 speed auto front three quarters

Next was the interesting process of sorting out my driving position. Some of the controls were not the easiest to figure out or find but after a bit of trial and error I got it right. Driving off I was impressed by how much power the 3 litre turbo diesel has with 180kW and 540Nm of torque and how smooth the 8-speed automatic transmission delivers the power to the road.

Plenty of power to move you along, even enough to have some fun with some spirited driving. The xDRIVE provided predictable handling along with the usual stability features and this made driving a breeze, even when I tried to get a bit of sideways action in the rain happening, the X5 just hooked up and powered through the turns. The X5 comes with all the usual stability and tractions aids including hill decent control.

When I got home I decided to figure out the stereo. That was an interesting experience; everything to control most of the functions in the X5 is done through the iDRIVE controller including the stereo. After a few false starts I managed to get the auxiliary port to work but that was as far as it got, there are just too many functions in the stereo to figure out in a couple of days.

2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d 8 speed auto dash view

Sound quality was reasonable though the vehicle on test was fitted with the standard system, the premium ones would sound better. I then went for a browse through some of the other functions available through the iDRIVE.

As I mentioned, just about everything in the car is controlled by this controller. You can adjust the heads up display, security settings and so much other stuff that I got overwhelmed and stopped looking. Once you have the X5 set up to suit you I would leave most of the functions alone. Other features include climate control, electric seats, electric tailgate, braked cruise control, reverse camera and sensors as well as Front Park assist to name just a few.

The wide navigation screen is without doubt one of the best in the business, its clear and works brilliantly. The heads up display though is not visible with some sunglasses though.

Inside comfort levels are first class with all seating positions being good though you can’t really put three adults in the second row for extended trips.

2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d 8 speed auto side view

Safety wise the X5 is up there with the best having a 5 star ANCAP rating. There are lots of airbags combined with the traction aids to help keep you safe.

Security wise the X5 is good to being one of the hardest vehicles to break into witch I have firsthand experience with, but we will discuss that later.

Driving around I found the BMW able to handle everything I asked of it. It took all the shoddy roads I threw at it in its stride as well as the good high speed ones. The eight-speed auto was always in the right gear to keep us moving and the engine was smooth and quiet.

Even though the X5 is all wheel drive I wouldn’t venture past maintained dirt roads as there is little ground clearance. Towing is impressive at 2700kgs though there wasn’t a towbar fitted for me to see how well it towed. I can’t imagine it struggling in this department though.

What’s good:

  • Fit and finish
  • Power and handling
  • Impressive features

What’s not so good:

  • Fiddly controls for many of the functions
  • Run flat tyres are expensive to replace and tell if flat from looking at
  • Artificial intelligence for door locking

2011 BMW X5 xDrive 30d 8 speed auto rear view

All in all I was impressed with the X5. It did everything I asked without fuss. You could comfortably cart the family around till the kids hit their late teens or disappear for the weekend by yourself. Even commuting to work daily would be a breeze.

My only issue with the X5 is with the security system. Part of the security setting is that if you open any and don’t turn the ignition on then when you shut the door the car locks and goes into shut down mode, this wouldn’t be a problem apart from the fact that you need the keys to open the doors again. One hot afternoon after putting my son in his car seat I shut the door only realising that I had left the keys on the seat next to him when the car locked itself.

After some frantic calls to the NRMA and BMW, the NRMA was forced to smash a window to gain access to him, as even BMW couldn’t guarantee their technician would be able to open the car. This is a function I would personally have deactivated if I was going to buy one as I only takes a split second for something like this to happen.

To my way of thinking if I tell a car to open and then open a door I want the car to stay open till I tell it to lock not decide it knows better than me.

The X5 sells for a MLP of $101,794

2011 BMW X5 30d xDrive 8 speed auto AnyAuto Ratings

Article Copyright © all rights reserved – Auto Alliance Group Pty. Ltd. 2011

About Anthony Hood 13 Articles
Anthony is an avid motor enthusiast. His interests lie in street rods, drag racing, 4WDriving and camping, burn out competitions, circuit racing and hill climbs. He is our resident hoon. Married with two children and a qualified diesel mechanic and fitter he brings a very laid back approach to reviewing vehicles.


  1. this is one of the best SUV of this year with eight speed transmission system which enhances the fuel economy and the driving ability of the vehicle.

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