BMW X3 vs X5: Comparing BMW’s Two Best-Selling SUVs

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.

Quick Summary

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.

BMW X3 front 3/4 view
BMW X5 front 3/4 view


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
BMW X5 rear view


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
BMW X5 interior

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 M50i
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.

Comparison Table

2021 BMW X32021 BMW X5
Engine2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
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
Rear SuspensionMulti-LinkMulti-Link
Rear Wheel SizeP225/60HR18P265/50HR19
Front SuspensionStrutDouble Wishbone
Front Wheel SizeP225/60HR18P265/50HR19
Turning Diameter (ft.)39.441.3
Fuel Economy
MPG/MPGe - Hwy2926
MPG/MPGe - City2521
MPG/MPGe - Combined2723
Gas Tank Size (gallons)17.221.9
Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)498.8569.4
Size and Weight
Height (in.)66.068.7
Length (in.)185.9194.3
Weight (lbs)39314828
Max Width (in.)74.478.9
Wheelbase (in.)112.8117.1
Interior Dimensions
Seating Capacity55
Front Seat Leg Room (in.)40.339.8
Front Seat Head Room (in.)41.140.8
Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)57.660.0
Rear Seat Leg room (in.)36.437.4
Rear Seat Head Room (in.)39.138.7
Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)56.058.1
Infotainment Features
HD RadioStandardStandard
MP3 PlayerStandardStandard
WiFi HotspotStandardOptional
Satellite RadioStandardStandard
Bluetooth ConnectionStandardStandard
Entertainment SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Premium Sound SystemOptionalOptional
Auxiliary Audio InputStandardStandard
Smart Device IntegrationStandardStandard
Hard Disk Drive Media StorageOptionalStandard
Interior Trim
Cloth SeatsStandardStandard
Vinyl SeatsStandardStandard
Leather SeatsStandardStandard
Premium Synthetic SeatsStandardStandard
Bucket SeatsStandardNot Available
Leather Steering WheelStandardStandard
Woodgrain Interior TrimStandardNot Available
Comfort Features
Rear A/CStandardStandard
Seat MemoryStandardStandard
Seat-MassageNot AvailableOptional
Keyless EntryStandardStandard
Keyless StartStandardStandard
Cruise ControlStandardStandard
Multi-Zone A/CStandardStandard
Power LiftgateStandardStandard
Climate ControlStandardStandard
Head-Up DisplayOptionalOptional
Power Mirror(s)StandardStandard
Automatic ParkingOptionalOptional
Navigation SystemStandardStandard
Power Driver SeatStandardStandard
Cooled Rear Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Hands-Free LiftgateOptionalNot Available
Heated Rear Seat(s)OptionalOptional
Remote Engine StartNot AvailableOptional
Cooled Front Seat(s)OptionalOptional
Heated Front Seat(s)OptionalStandard
Power Passenger SeatStandardStandard
Remote Trunk ReleaseStandardStandard
Heated Steering WheelOptionalOptional
Adaptive Cruise ControlOptionalOptional
Navigation from TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Universal Garage Door OpenerStandardStandard
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsStandardStandard
Safety Features
Brake AssistStandardStandard
Night VisionNot AvailableNot Available
Rear Parking AidStandardStandard
Traction ControlStandardStandard
Stability ControlStandardStandard
Blind Spot MonitorStandardStandard
Cross-Traffic AlertStandardStandard
Lane Keeping AssistOptionalOptional
Tire Pressure MonitorStandardStandard
Lane Departure WarningStandardStandard
Knee Air BagStandardStandard
Driver Air BagStandardStandard
Seatbelt Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Passenger Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Head Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Side Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Front Head Air BagStandardStandard
Front Side Air BagStandardStandard
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