Should You Take the BMW X5 Off Road?

The BMW X5 with xDrive is capable on most terrain, but not ideal for serious off-roading.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
The BMW X5 is a highly customizable luxury SUV—its optional off-road package allows drivers to adjust the air suspension to suit even the trickiest terrains.
If you’re looking for a good adventure, you’ll need a reliable off-roader to handle the trickiest terrains. Not only does a trusty vehicle keep you safe on rugged paths, but it also makes venturing through uncharted territories less frustrating. The biggest question is, which vehicles are the true off-road heroes?
We're here to break down the off-road capabilities of the BMW X5. We’ll take a look at the key factors that are essential to an off-road vehicle and other options for this luxury SUV.

Can the BMW X5 go off-road?

Yes, but don’t expect to scale mountains in it. Any BMW trim with ‘xDrive’ has all-wheel drive, making it better suited for off-roading. This mid-size SUV is also equipped with front-facing off-road cameras, which allow drivers to see what’s ahead as they go on a downhill descent. Drivers can also opt for the off-road package which allows for adjustments to be made to the air suspension to handle the rough terrains.
Starting at around $61,595, the X5 can be equipped with features and optional add-ons to do some light off-roading.
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Ground clearance

When shopping for an off-road vehicle, checking the ground clearance is important. The X5’s minimum ground clearance is 8.3 inches for the trims without xDrive or 8.7 inches for the xDrive trims. The X5 xDrive trims have a higher ground clearance, which is more suited as an off-road vehicle. 
The ideal ground clearance range for off-roaders is at least 8.8 inches. Higher clearance is advantageous for uneven terrain to minimize the risk of damage to the undercarriage. 


Turning power is more important than speed for successful off-roading. Power is essential for climbing over bumpy terrain without getting stuck. Low-end torque (torque at lower rpm) is characteristic of a good off-road vehicle, as it gives the driver better control.
The X5’s 3.0-liter inter-cooled turbo I-6 engine produces a maximum torque of 330 lb-ft @ 1,500 RPM. This is an impressive amount of low-end torque which allows the X5 to power through uneven and rough surfaces you may encounter, but may not be enough to crush extreme terrain conditions. 


The X5 is outfitted with a set of ultra high-performance Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires
All-terrain tires
, or A/T tires, are designed to handle different off-roading terrains as well as smoothly paved roads. The PZ4 tires give the X5 better control and track in wet conditions, however, they may wear out faster than standard all-season tires depending on your driving style. If you need to replace the tires more often, it will increase the cost of ownership for an X5. 


The X5 xDrive trims come standard with all-wheel drive, which is important when tackling rough terrain but is still best with off-road tires and significant ground clearance.


The vehicle’s approach angle and departure angle determine what sorts of obstacles, like large rocks, it can safely climb.
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle of a ramp at which the vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle of a ramp at which the vehicle can descend without damage
The X5 has approach and departure angles of 25 and 24 degrees respectively, which isn’t spectacular—ideal angles are over 28 degrees. A lift kit and larger tires compatible with the X5 can also be installed to help increase the angles but should be done by a professional.

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

We’ve rated the BMW X5 using
DIRT rating system, which stands for:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited for highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions under dire circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles capable of handling casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles that can tackle a range of terrain and road conditions
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After looking at the key features, the X5 earns an R rating. Although the X5 is trail-ready on a casual basis, this luxury SUV does its best work on pavement. 

The best off-road alternatives to the BMW X5

If you’re looking for a mid-size SUV that can tackle serious off-road trails with no hiccups, the X5 may not be the best choice. 
Here are the best alternatives to the BMW X5:
Best comparable alternative
Audi Q7
Powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 248 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. It also has a ground clearance of 9.4 inches, allowing it to handle rough terrains better than the X5.
Best affordable alternative
Volvo XC90
This more affordable alternative is still packed with luxury. It is powered by a 2.0L turbo I-4 engine that produces 316 hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission all-wheel drive. The Advance Package includes a 360-degree camera system that would be useful for off-roading.

How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Finding the best off-roading vehicles will bring a world of joy in exploring new territories. However, they also have a greater cost of ownership compared to a regular vehicle since insurance rates are higher. 
What’s the solution? Shopping with
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Jerry users save an average of more than $800 per year on
car insurance
. Those savings could go towards some off-road mods like a lifted suspension, or you could save up for a bigger and better off-roader! 
“After I bought my new car, the insurance companies tried charging me $315/month.
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