Mercedes GLE aside, the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 are the best-selling German luxury midsize SUVs in America. Whereas BMW SUVs are typically associated with a spirited drive and bold styling, Audi SUVs are known for their focus on passenger comfort and smart styling.
Does that still hold true for the latest models? Let’s find out—today we’ll be comparing the new facelifted 2020 Audi Q7 to the 2020 BMW X5, and declaring one of the two a winner.
The Audi Q7 and X5 are competitively priced, and both start from just under $60,000. However, the Q7 has better standard features on lower trims.
The price gap isn’t significant, but if you’re looking to spend the least, the Audi Q7 is cheaper. That’s because they offer it with a 2.0-liter engine, whereas the BMW X5 base model features a 3.0-liter straight-six.
BMW X5 charges a premium for all-wheel drive, pushing the price above $60k. All-wheel drive is standard across the Q7 range. To get a third row of seats in the X5 you’ll also need to option it, whereas it’s standard on the Q7. These options further increase the price gap, meaning the BMW X5 often ends up costing more than the Audi Q7.
New styling makes the 2020 Q7 one of the most sophisticated looking Audis yet. But those seeking a meaner and sportier look will love the X5.
The Audi Q7 was undoubtedly one of the most boring looking SUVs on the market back in 2019. Its design hadn’t changed since 2015 and it couldn’t compare to the aggressive styling of the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE or futuristic Lexus RX.
But new styling tweaks such as a redesigned grille, new side sills, chrome trim for the tailgate and revised exhaust tips, has made the facelifted Audi Q7 a much more attractive SUV than it was. It looks modern and oozes class and conservatism.
Meanwhile, the BMW X5 remains as stylish as ever, with its mean dual-kidney grilles giving it that mean look we love about BMWs. While the body dimensions are almost identical to the Q7, the X5 somehow has more visual presence on the road, whereas the Q7 looks a bit like a beefed up station wagon.
Overall the two SUVs are both attractive in their own right. The design changes to the Q7 bring it up to par, and ultimately it’s your call as to which vehicle suits your design tastes better.
The new Q7 interior feels more modern and less cluttered than the interior of the X5 (which is also excellent).
Ask me back in 2019 which interior I prefer and the answer would be simple—BMW X5. It has only just entered its fourth generation (G05) in 2018 and the interior was the best in the business. Meanwhile the Audi interior, though decent, was showing signs of age with its rather dull dashboard and old-school pop-out infotainment display.
However, for 2020, Audi have completely redone the interior. Interiors are definitely Audi’s strong suit, and the new Q7 interior is simply stunning. An immaculate, uncluttered look with premium, soft-touch materials throughout. Two high definition displays in the middle blend in nicely, as opposed to the old pop out system. And of course, the industry leading Audi Virtual Cockpit digital driver display makes sure all the important information is presented to the driver in a helpful way.
The 2020 X5 interior is still excellent, though, and it’s difficult to think of a better interior (before the facelifted Q7 came into existence, that is). High quality soft-touch materials are employed everywhere, even those places hidden from sight which are often culprits of cheap, scratchy plastics. Like the Audi, a wide touchscreen with click wheel and gesture controls comes as standard, although those hoping to use Android Auto will be out of luck—it’s only Apple CarPlay compatible.
Overall, the new Q7 interior is ahead of the X5’s. But make no mistake, these are the best interiors you’ll find on the market, beating out the likes of the Mercedes GLE and Lexus RX (when you factor in its poor infotainment interface).
Passenger Space and Comfort
The Audi Q7 is a 7-seater, whereas the X5 is a 5-seater unless optioned with a third-row of seats. The Q7’s rear seats can also recline and slide back and forth, unlike the X5’s.
One of the Audi Q7’s biggest advantages over its competitors is the fact that it comes with a third row as standard. This means it can seat up to 7 passengers.
By comparison, the BMW X5 is a natural 5 seater. There is the option to add a third row, but the configuration is a little more clunky and doesn’t feel as well thought out as the Q7.
While the BMW X5 offers slightly more headroom (40.7 inches vs 39.9 inches at the front), the Audi Q7 is roomier for passengers in the back. The Q7 offers middle row passengers 38.8 inches of legroom compared to the 37.4 inches of legroom in the back of the X5.
Not only that, middle row seats in the Audi Q7 are reclining and can slide back or forth. As comfortable as the BMW X5 rear-row seats are, the inability to recline them means the Audi Q7 is the more comfortable SUV for passengers.
Both SUVs are very comparable when it comes to cargo volume. However, the split tailgate of the X5 makes it easier to load cargo.
When the third row is folded down in the Q7, it has 35.7 cubic feet of space in the trunk. That’s slightly more than the X5’s 33.9 cubic feet.
However, when all seats are folded down, the X5 has a slightly larger capacity of 72.3 cubic feet. The Q7 has 69.9 cubic feet when all seats are down.
A nice feature of the BMW X5 is its electronic split tailgate. This makes it more convenient to put things into the trunk.
The Audi Q7 can be had with a 2.0-liter or 3.0-liter engine. The base model X5 has a 3.0-liter engine and BMW also offer a 4.4-liter engine.
Whereas the Audi Q7 comes with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (45 TFSI) or 3.0-liter six-cylinder (55 TFSI), the base model BMW X5 features a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
The X5 has even more powerful engines available: a beastly 4.4-liter V8 on the xDrive50i and M50i models.
Comparing the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines you can get on the Q7 and X5, numbers are very close. The Audi Q7 produces 329 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The BMW X5 produces 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. Both vehicles are fast off the line, although the BMW can do 0-60 mph in 5.2s, compared to the Q7’s 5.7s.
It’s also worth noting that whereas the Audi Q7 has quattro all-wheel drive across the range, the X5 is either rear-wheel drive (sDrive) or all-wheel drive(xDrive).
This makes the Audi Q7 the more affordable option for those who simply want all-wheel drive, especially if you are content with the smaller, 2.0-liter 45 TFSI engine.
Both SUV match their engines with 8-speed automatic transmissions.
The BMW X5 offers better gas mileage than the Q7 (unless you opt for the 4.4-liter engine).
The Audi Q7 (in either engine configuration) achieves 19/25 mpg (city/highway) for a combined 21 mpg.
The 3.0-liter BMW is slightly more fuel efficient, 21/26 mpg (city/highway) and a combined 23 mpg. Note that this drops to 20/26 mpg when all-wheel drive is chosen.
Of course, the larger engined X5s (xDrive50i and M50i) have the lowest gas mileage of all.
The BMW X5 has a sportier feel and more responsive transmission. The Audi Q7 isn’t so exciting to drive, but delivers a very smooth ride.
The Audi Q7 delivers a comfortable, if somewhat unremarkable driving experience. The 45 TFSI model can feel a little underpowered, so it’s worth considering the 55 TFSI for a little more oomph.
The Q7’s gearbox isn’t bad, but at times it feels a little slow to respond. The steering also feels very slightly over-assisted, but these shortcomings are made up for by the fact the ride is ultra smooth and the cabin is tightly insulated from outside noise.
Meanwhile, the BMW X5 is definitely the SUV for the spirited driver. As always, the BMW steptronic suspension is absolutely excellent, the vehicle feels well planted and it’s definitely the sportier feeling vehicle. You can also go for the M Sport package for stiffer suspension and thinner run flat tyres for an even more sporty drive.
The Audi Q7 fared better in NHTSA crash testing.
Both the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 fared well in crash tests conducted by NHTSA, IIHS and Euro NCAP.
Results for this year’s models aren’t out yet, but we can use last year’s results as a reference (the vehicle structures are the same).
The Audi Q7 was given the highest possible 5-star overall safety rating by the NHTSA. The BMW X5 scored slightly lower and received a 4-star overall rating.
Both SUVs have 6 airbags and essential safety assists like frontal collision warning, blind spot detection and pedestrian detection. Other driver assists like adaptive cruise control can be added on, but do not come as standard.
Thanks to the updated interior and various styling tweaks to the exterior, the Audi Q7 has really made a comeback. It is a natural 7-seater and passengers will enjoy a more comfortable ride than on the X5. Those who plan to drive in rougher conditions will also appreciate quattro all-wheel drive coming as standard.
However, the X5 definitely does what BMW does best—provide the ultimate driving experience. A better gearbox and options for more powerful engines spoils those behind the wheel.
While the BMW X5 was previously our favorite midsize luxury SUV, we’re happy to place the new Q7 up there alongside it. We’d definitely recommend booking a test drive in both to help you narrow your search.