The BMW X5 is a luxurious, gadget-rich SUV whose handling somehow manages to defy its size. What do you need to know before you buy a BMW X5? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

BMW says they “launched an entire segment” with the 1999 X5. Really, what they launched was a new buzzword: SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle. That’s the terminology they use to describe their X line of, let’s face it, SUVs. Really, Land Rover and Mercedes were in the luxury SUV segment before BMW, so the Bavarians weren’t first, but there is something to be said about BMW’s SAV, namely that the first letter in the acronym holds true. Very true.

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Yes, the BMW X5 handles well. Like, How The Heck Is This An SUV well. In Andrew Collins’s review, he said BMW’s big luxury SUV “feels like a car, and wants to go fast,” and that it’s “better balanced than you’d expect in a vehicle this shape.”

Add to that the gorgeous interior, the awesome available head-up display and great safety and infotainment gadgets, a great transmission, a more-than-willing 3.0-liter turbo inline-six engine and decent cargo space and you end up with one of the best-handling, cutting-edge SUVs on the market.

No wonder they’re selling so well.

What’s New About The 2016 BMW X5

The third generation BMW X5 debuted in 2013 and later launched for the 2014 model year. The new car brought updated exterior styling with a new fascia, a new diesel engine, a revised interior and a lower base price thanks to an available rear-wheel drive model. Based on the same platform as its predecessor, the third generation F15 X5, even with its bigger, bolder grille and headlights, was more of an evolution than a revolution from the old E70 X5.

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The second model year brought King Kong to the X5 lineup: the 567 horsepower X5 M. That powerful, 5,260 pound beast rockets to 60 MPH in four seconds flat. In addition to the X5 M debut, 2015 saw an increase in fuel economy for the xDrive50i trim by one MPG.

This year, the 2016 X5 sees a new plug-in hybrid model join the lineup. Called the xDrive40e, the new model combines a 2.0-liter turbo four with an electric motor to make 308 total system horsepower. Electric ranges is limited to 13 miles, though in gas-only mode, the xDrive40e will achieve 24 MPG combined.

Which One We’d Buy

The BMW X5 comes in six main versions: the I6 gasoline-powered sDrive35i and xDrive35i, the diesel xDrive35d, the plug-in hybrid xDrive40e, and the V8-powered xDrive50i and X5 M.

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All X5s come with electric power steering, a multi-link rear suspension design and a double-wishbone setup in the front. Brakes for non-M models are 12.6-inch vented rotors in the front and 13.7-inch vented discs out back. The M gets big ol’ stompers: 15.6-inch pizzas in the front clamped by six-piston calipers and 15.2-inch pies in the rear clamped by single-piston floating calipers.

We really enjoyed our xDrive35i test car, and that’s likely the one we’d spring for if we were in the market for an X5. Its 300 horsepower turbo six is enough to make the vehicle feel quick, shooting it to 60 MPH in 6.1 seconds.

Standard features on that $56,200 car include 19-inch alloy wheels, Hill Descent Control, power folding mirrors, Xenon Adaptive headlights with auto-leveling, LED fog lights, heated power leatherette seats, wood interior trim, power tilt/telescoping steering column, Dynamic Cruise Control, Navigation with 10.2-inch high-resolution screen, iDrive infotainment system with controller, panoramic power moonroof, automatic dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, Park Distance Control, and a 9-speaker audio system with 205-watt amplifier.

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If we needed a third row for small children, we’d add that option for $1,700. If not, we’d just stick with the $1,400 Driver Assistance Package, which includes the much-coveted head-up display, and maybe the $4,500 Dynamic Handling Package, which gives us torque vectoring, resulting in a total price of $62,245 including destination.

[Build Your BMW X5]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $53,900-$98,800 Top Speed: 155 MPH (estimate)

Acceleration: ~6.0s to 60 (estimate)

MPG: 23 city/ 31 hwy / 26 combined [xDrive35d]

Engines: 3.0L turbo I6, 4.4L twin-turbo V8, 3.0L turbodiesel

Max Horsepower/Torque: 567 hp/553 lb-ft

Curb Weight: 4,680-5,260 pounds IIHS Rating: Not Fully Tesed (‘15MY)

Transmissions: 8-speed automatic (ZF 8HP45)

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, RWD/AWD

Photo credit: BMW