BMW X3 vs X5

BMW X3 vs X5

The Lowdown

The BMW X5 is a midsize SUV that's more powerful, more spacious and more expensive than the X3, which is BMW's compact SUV offering.

2021 BMW X3 sDrive30i

2021 BMW X3 sDrive30i

Body Type
3,931 lbs
MPG (City/Hwy)
25 / 29
2021 BMW X5 sDrive40i

2021 BMW X5 sDrive40i

Body Type
4,828 lbs
MPG (City/Hwy)
21 / 26

Note: Images shown may not represent trims

Debuting in 1999 as the first ever BMW SUV, the X5 was BMW’s best-selling SUV in the U.S. all the way up until 2018. However, in 2018 the newest third-generation X3 overtook the X5 to become the best-selling BMW SUV, and also beat out the likes of the 3 series to become the best-selling BMW in North America.

The X3 is a compact luxury crossover SUV whereas the X5 is a midsize luxury SUV, meaning the X3 is smaller. Although that’s the main gist of it, let’s take a closer look at exactly what separates the two models.


The X3 is the cheaper of the two and starts at $41,000 for the sDrive30i base model. To get the AWD xDrive30i, you’ll need to spend at least $43,000.

The X5 starts at $60,700 for the base xDrive40i.

BMW X3 rear view
Photo: BMW
BMW X5 rear view
Photo: BMW


The smaller of the two, the BMW X3 measures 185.9 inches from front to back. By comparison, the X5 is almost 10 inches longer at 194.3 inches. The X5 is also around 3 inches taller and 4 inches wider than the X3.

The bigger X5 makes for a roomier interior but also makes it slightly less nimble and troublesome to park.

BMW X3 interior
Photo: BMW
BMW X5 interior
Photo: BMW

Passenger Space

Both cars can seat 5 passengers, but the X5 can optionally be fitted with a third row to give it a maximum seating capacity of 7 passengers.

While passengers will be comfortable in either model, the X5 offers slightly more generous shoulder room in both the front and back rows and more legroom in the back row.

Cargo Space

The X3 has a maximum cargo capacity of 62.7 cubic feet. The X5 has a maximum cargo capacity of 72.3 cubic feet.

To put that into perspective, the extra 10 cubic feet of space means the X5 can fit 1 additional large suitcase and 1 additional small suitcase.

Engine Performance

The BMW X3 30i is powered by a  2.0L I-4 engine that produces 248 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. The larger X5 40i boasts a more powerful 3.0L V6 engine that produces 330 ft-lbs of torque. The X5 is naturally more hungry for petrol, getting just 20/26 mpg (city/hwy) vs the X3’s 23/30 mpg.

Drivetrain Availability

The base model X3, the sDrive30i is rear-wheel drive. However, the more popular X3 model is the slightly more expensive xDrive30i which is an all-wheel drive version of the sDrive30i.

The BMW X5 is currently only available with xDrive AWD. However, BMW do have plans to add a cheaper sDrive model to the X5 lineup in 2020.

Standard Features

Both models feature an extensive list of standard features for comfort and convenience:

  • Voice activated navigation
  • Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Leatherette seat trim
  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls
  • HD Radio™
  • SiriusXM®
  • Apple CarPlay Compatibility
  • Available advanced real-time traffic information
  • Available head-up display

However, the base X5 model offers some additional standard amenities which are optioned extras for the X3:

  • Heated front seats
  • Panoramic Moonroof
  • Active Blind Spot Detection
BMW X5 M50i rear taillight
Photo: BMW
The BMW X3 and X5 also have high-performance M variants

Direct Competitors

The BMW X3 competes with the likes of the Audi Q5, Lexus NX, Lincoln Corsair and Range Rover Velar in the compact luxury crossover SUV segment

On the other hand, the X5 competes in the midsize luxury SUV segment against the likes of the Audi Q7, Mercedes GLE and Lexus RX.


Most buyers should now have a good idea about which BMW SUV suits their needs better. The X5 is more spacious but costs significantly more and is less nimble than the X3 which is more convenient for inner-city driving. For those still undecided, booking a test drive at your local BMW dealership is the best way to get a feel for each SUV in person.

Full Comparison Table

2021 BMW X3 sDrive30i2021 BMW X5 sDrive40i
Engine2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Hybrid
Horsepower248 hp @ 5200 rpm335 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque258 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm330 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission8-Speed Automatic8-Speed Automatic
DrivetrainRear-Wheel DriveRear-Wheel Drive
Steering TypeRack-PinionRack-Pinion
Turning Diameter (ft.)39.441.3
Front SuspensionStrutDouble Wishbone
Rear SuspensionMulti-LinkMulti-Link
Front Wheel Size18" x 7"19" x 9"
Rear Wheel Size18" x 7"19" x 9"
Front TireP225/60HR18P265/50HR19
Rear TireP225/60HR18P265/50HR19
Fuel Economy
MPG - Combined2723
MPG - City2521
MPG - Hwy2926
Gas Tank Size (gallons)17.221.9
Cruising Range - City (miles)430459.9
Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)498.8569.4
CO2 Emissions, 15K mi/year (tons)6.67.7
Exterior Dimensions
Length (in.)185.9194.3
Height (in.)6668.7
Max Width (in.)74.478.9
Front Width (in.)63.866.1
Rear Width (in.)64.466.9
Wheelbase (in.)112.8117.1
Weight (lbs.)39314828
Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity55
Legroom - front (in.)40.339.8
Headroom - front (in.)41.140.8
Shoulder Room - front (in.)57.660
Legroom - rear (in.)36.437.4
Headroom - rear (in.)39.138.7
Shoulder Room - rear (in.)5658.1
Hard Disk DriveOptionalStandard
HD RadioStandardStandard
Satellite RadioStandardStandard
MP 3 PlayerStandardStandard
Premium Sound SystemOptionalOptional
Wifi HotspotStandardOptional
Aux Audio InStandardStandard
Entertainment SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Head Up DisplayOptionalOptional
Navigation SystemStandardStandard
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsStandardStandard
Power LiftgateStandardStandard
Power Mirror SStandardStandard
A CStandardStandard
Adaptive Cruise ControlOptionalOptional
Automatic ParkingOptionalOptional
Climate ControlStandardStandard
Cooled Front Seat SOptionalOptional
Cooled Rear Seat SNot AvailableNot Available
Cruise ControlStandardStandard
Hands Free LiftgateOptionalNot Available
Heated Front Seat SOptionalStandard
Heated Rear Seat SOptionalOptional
Heated Steering WheelOptionalOptional
Keyless EntryStandardStandard
Multi Zone A CStandardStandard
Power Driver SeatStandardStandard
Power Passenger SeatStandardStandard
Remote Engine StartNot AvailableOptional
Remote Trunk ReleaseStandardStandard
Seat MemoryStandardStandard
Universal Garage Door OpenerStandardStandard
Seat MassageNot AvailableOptional
Rear A CStandardStandard
Keyless StartStandardStandard
Navigation From TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Interior Trim
Bucket SeatsStandardNot Available
Cloth SeatsStandardStandard
Leather SeatsStandardStandard
Leather Steering WheelStandardStandard
Premium Synthetic SeatsStandardStandard
Vinyl SeatsStandardStandard
Woodgrain Interior TrimStandardNot Available
Sun MoonroofOptionalStandard
Back Up CameraStandardStandard
Cross Traffic AlertStandardStandard
Rear Parking AidStandardStandard
Blind Spot MonitorStandardStandard
Lane Departure WarningStandardStandard
Lane Keeping AssistOptionalOptional
Night VisionNot AvailableNot Available
Tire Pressure MonitorStandardStandard
Brake AssistStandardStandard
Stability ControlStandardStandard
Traction ControlStandardStandard
Driver Air BagStandardStandard
Front Head Air BagStandardStandard
Front Side Air BagStandardStandard
Knee Air BagStandardStandard
Passenger Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Head Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Side Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Seatbelt Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Basic4 Years / 50,000 Miles4 Years / 50,000 Miles
Corrosion12 Years / Unlimited Miles12 Years / Unlimited Miles
Drivetrain4 Years / 50,000 Miles4 Years / 50,000 Miles
Maintenance3 Years / 36,000 Miles3 Years / 36,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance4 Years / Unlimited Miles4 Years / Unlimited Miles