It might seem like BMW has been making SUVs forever, as they’ve become so popular you can’t drive on any street, anywhere in the world, without seeing at least a handful. However, BMW is actually relatively new to SUVs, having only been making them for about 20-percent of its entire history. Having said that, BMW has made some very good SUVs over the years and it’s probably making the best SUVs it’s ever made right now. So let’s take a look at the current crop of Bavarian utility vehicles to see which is best.
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The smallest, cheapest SUV BMW makes could potentially be one of its best. Due to its good looks, surprisingly enjoyable handling and impressive interior space, the BMW X1 is a genuinely great small, premium crossover. What’s interesting is that it’s the least BMW-like SUV in the lineup, due to its front-wheel drive layout and more practical nature. Despite that, the X1 is an underrated little car that really impresses. As a daily driver for enthusiasts who keep their sports cars in the garage until the weekend, the X1 is a great choice.
Among BMW’s SUV lineup, the X2 is the biggest oddball. It has the strangest looks of all of the brand’s SUVs, it’s smaller than the X1 despite having higher numeric nomenclature and yet it’s more expensive. It’s more fun to drive than it should be, to be honest, and there’s an M Performance version which is also surprisingly fun. Having said that, the X2 seems like an answer to a question that nobody asked. There’s really no need for an X2, except for customers who just want something funky looking.
This new generation of BMW X3 is the best generation and is easily a contender for not only the best SUV BMW currently makes but one of the best that it’s ever made. What’s special about the BMW X3 is that it’s great at every level. Everything from the entry-level X3 all the way up to the high-performance X3 M is excellent in its own way. There’s even an electric version, the BMW iX3, that gives customers yet another powertrain option. Though, it’s the X3 M that gives the entire X3 range its biggest boost because of how outstanding it is.
Another oddity, with the BMW X4. However, the X4 is a more useful oddity than the X2. Not only is it bigger but it’s also based on the same great bones as the X3. Sure, it looks a bit weirder but those slightly stranger looks are actually quite popular and give it a bit of character. It loses some practicality to its X3 sibling but at least it keeps the same great dynamics. So while it’s a bit of an oddball, unlike the X2, it’s an oddball with some purpose.
When it comes to luxury vehicles, the BMW X5 might actually pose a problem for other BMWs. The X5 is so luxurious and so lovely to drive that it sort of makes the 5 Series irrelevant. The X5 drives down the road with a smoothness and fluidity that makes luxury sedans seem coarse. Yet, it has a higher ride height that gives its driver a more commanding view of the road and a bigger cabin for more interior space. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t feel like a big SUV and is actually surprisingly enjoyable to drive. Also, the BMW X5 M is an absolute monster.
We’re back at another oddball but this one is purely about style. The BMW X6 is the most extreme looking of all the “Sports Activity Coupes” that BMW makes at the moment. It’s nice to drive, there’s no doubt, but no one buys the X6 for the way it drives. X6 customers care only about style and front passenger luxury. The X6 M is a car that defies physics but you have to really want the different style to get it over the X5 M.
I distinctly remember the heavy criticism for the BMW X7 prior to its release. Enthusiasts mocked just the very existence of the X7 before even driving it. However, the X7 surprised a lot of enthusiasts, yours truly included, with just how good it is to drive. The BMW X7 is the best luxury vehicle the brand makes, regardless of size or body shape. Its interior is fabulous, it packs an incredible amount of space and it both rides and drives better than the 7 Series. Its grille is horrid but that’s a small price to pay to have an outstanding luxury car.
So Which is Best?
To choose from all of these SUVs, just one to be the best of them, is surprisingly difficult. I’ve personally gone back and forth on a couple of them and I’m sure the one we choose is going to be debated in the comments but that’s a good thing. Such discourse is healthy. If we have to choose just one of these, though, the best SUV that the Bavarian brand makes is the BMW X5.
As a whole, the X5 is almost impossible to beat. Personally, I would choose the X3 do to its superior driving dynamics, but the X5 isn’t far off and it offers a smoother ride, a more luxurious cabin and more cargo/passengers space. Sure, it’s not exactly cheap but it offers all the car anyone would ever realistically want in a daily driver. Plus, there are so many variants to choose from that the BMW X5 can fit anyone’s taste.
Need something luxurious and efficient? No problem, there are a suite of diesel engines available, depending on market. Like a bit of eco-tech? Great, there’s a hybrid model. Want something with a bit more punch but don’t want to lose its comfy ride? The BMW X5 M50i is for you. What about an SUV that can haul your family and haul ass when you’re not? The BMW X5 is one of the best performance SUVs in the world.
So if we had to choose just one, out of all the surprisingly good SUVs that BMW makes, the X5 would be our sole choice. It does everything really well and never seems to have an egg on its face.