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Mid-Size Luxury Crossovers: BMW X5 vs Lexus RX

If you want a stylish SUV that’s packed with premium quality and a spectacular amount of space, the Lexus RX and BMW X5 are immediate options. While noticeably different in size, both offer all the fine touches that make modern SUV ownership such a joy. The latter’s 2018 makeover has further raised the stakes, but how does it compare against the sophisticated Lexus? 

Brutishly sporty or futuristically sophisticated? 

The new BMW X5 is bigger than its predecessor, and a little lower to the ground too. It boasts some sharpened lines that bring an extra sportiness, although the design isn’t wildly different from what’s come before. The old and somewhat unnecessary opening on the nose has gone, allowing the classic BMW front grille to be made even more dominant. It’s a real improvement, sitting between the elegant LED headlights, while the taillights have an aesthetically pleasing three-dimensional quality to them. The front corner air intakes have been enlarged too, giving the front end an even more imposing look. They also provide a nice mount for the new front fog lights, while the headlamps come with BMW’s Laserlight system as standard. All in all, the X5 looks more aggressive and dynamic thanks to the sharpened lower body line and body coloured side skirts, while the rear end is wider and sportier. 

The Lexus RX is nowhere near as sporty or aggressive as the X5, fitting into the crossover category, clearly smaller than its full-blown SUV opponent. The RX’s lines are still emphatically bold though, with the front end, profile and rear all sporting futuristic lines and design cues. The unmistakably Lexus front grille brings a real presence to the nose, which also epitomises the futuristic feel with zig-zagged features including intakes and headlights. There are LED lights all around, while you get heated and auto-folding door mirrors as standard, as well as privacy glass. The Lexus comes in a 7-seater version, the RX L, which caters for the extra length without compromising on the styling. It’s slightly elongated past the rear wheels, holding onto the floating roof line for a little longer before the rear windscreen plunges down at a sharper angle. For reference, the X5 is available with third-row seating, but BMW are bringing us the X7 in early 2019, which is a genuine 7-seater. 

Conclusion: this one’s a matter of taste - do you prefer aggressive or sophisticated styling? 

Modern revamp vs expert sophistication

While the X5’s exterior has been somewhat subtly spruced up, the opposite’s true with the interior. There’s been a real shake-up inside, and BMW have brought a much more contemporary feel to the cockpit. High-quality Vernasca leather comes as standard, while the dashboard’s been completely revamped to bring a smoother and more minimalist aesthetic to the controls. The air vents are much sleeker and have a sportier feel, while the raised gearstick and infotainment controls have the same effect. Live Cockpit Professional is now standard across the range, and speaking of infotainment, BMW’s iDrive system meets a 12.3-inch display that integrates nicely with the instrument cluster. If you’re looking at options, the Bowers and Wilkens Diamond audio system has 20 speakers and 1,500 watts of power, while the Sky Lounge Panoramic glass sunroof is pretty spectacular too - especially when coupled with the ambient interior lighting that comes as standard. 

The RX, meanwhile, feels incredibly luxurious behind the wheel. From comfortable seats to ambient LED interior lighting, Lexus employ Takumi master craftsmen to bring a heightened human touch and quality to the RX’s design and aesthetics. The Japanese carmaker also partnered with renowned instrument makers Yamaha to help with the fit out; one of the benefits being the beautifully-crafted real wood veneers you’ll find in the cabin. There’s a 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display available, as well as the Lexus Enform Remote mobile app. The Lexus Safety System+ comes as standard too, which includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and intelligent high-beam headlamps. 

Conclusion: the RX has a luxurious feel but the X5 has really upped its game with a redesigned interior

A clear engine choice

  • The X5 comes with three engine options, with one of those a petrol offering. The xDrive40i needs to pack a punch to carry the BMW’s weighty frame, and it certainly does with 340hp at your disposal. That takes you from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, with a combined fuel consumption of 32.4-33.2mpg and emissions of 193-197g/km, depending on the wheel cluster you go for. 
  • The xDrive30d is likely to be the most popular diesel engine, producing 265hp and 45.5mpg. But if you want some serious diesel power, the M50d could be the model for you, with 400 boisterous horses beneath the bonnet and a 41.5mpg combined fuel economy. 
  • The RX keeps things pretty simple when it comes to engine options - there’s only one. Lexus are committed to green technology and are a true leader with their hybrid engines. 
  • The 450h is a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid with all-wheel drive. You can get a combined fuel consumption of 48.7mpg, while emissions are just 132g/km. With 313hp, it can do 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds. 
  • The 7-seater RX L has very similar performance figures. The acceleration is understandably a little slower, while emissions and fuel consumption are a touch higher. 

Conclusion: it all boils down to hybrid technology - the X5 has the higher-powered engines but if you want hybrid, the RX has mastered it

In numbers…








Power (HP)





Fuel (comb MPG)





Emissions (CO2, g/km)





Top Speed (mph)





0 – 62mph in…. (seconds)










Both of these SUVs are packed with luxury and style, so it may be that it comes down to a case of “size matters”. Either way, the BMW X5 and Lexus RX are well worth a look in the flesh, so head down to your local Cooper BMW and Inchcape Lexus where you can arrange a test drive.