BMW X3 vs. X5

By

Automotive Content Editor

Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, Automotive Content Editor - March 28, 2024
2024 BMW X5 front three-quarter view

BMW, like many other automakers, is focusing on building a robust lineup of SUVs. Unlike those other brands, BMW still focuses on making vehicles that are sporty and enjoyable to drive. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that BMW’s SUVs are some of the most entertaining in their respective segments.

Two of BMW’s more popular SUVs include the compact X3 and the midsize X5. For the majority of shoppers looking for an SUV, the X3 and X5 occupy the sweet spot in BMW’s lineup where they have the necessary space and features for most shoppers.

With both the X3 and X5 sharing a lot of the same features and design elements, choosing between the two SUVs may be more difficult than you think. Here’s a brief comparison that looks into the key similarities and differences between the compact X3 and midsize X5 to help you make the right choice for you.

BMW X3 vs. X5 Price

2022 BMW X3

As the smaller, more compact SUV, the X3 pulls out an obvious lead over the X5 when it comes to pricing. The X3 starts at $47,895 and the larger X5 carries a starting price tag of $66,695 (prices include destination). That’s a dramatic price difference of $18,800, though the difference in pricing between the two SUVs depends on trim, features, and powertrain configuration.

Unsurprisingly, the X3 is the more affordable SUV of the two to lease, though it’s by an immense margin. Current lease deals for the X3 are available for as low as $629 per month. The most affordable lease deals for the X5 require $949 per month. Both aren’t available with any financing deals this month but are being offered with loyalty discounts for current customers. The X3 is available with a $1,500 loyalty discount, while the X5 qualifies for $1,000 off.

Both of BMW’s SUVs are some of the most expensive vehicles in their respective segments, costing more than the majority of their European rivals. Luxury SUVs from Japan and South Korea are far more affordable than the X3 and X5.

X3 vs. X5 Dimensions

2024 BMW X5 front three-quarter view

As one would expect, the compact X3 is smaller than the midsize X5. The X5 is 8.4 inches longer, roughly five inches wider, and nearly three inches taller than the X3. For consumers looking to do some light off-roading or have to deal with a large amount of snow every year, the X5 has 0.7 extra inches of ground clearance compared to the X3, as the midsize SUV offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance compared to the X3’s 8 inches.

The difference in size gives the X5 the ability to be equipped with an optional third row that raises seating capacity to seven, while the X3 can only seat up to five. The X5’s larger size also results in more interior space, though passengers in the second row see the largest difference. Passengers in the X5 get an extra inch of legroom and two more inches of shoulder room.

While the X5 offers slightly more space than the X3 for passengers in the second row, the X3 has slightly more space in the first row. The X3 has 41.1 inches of headroom compared to the X5’s figure of 40.8 inches. When it comes to front legroom, the X3 has 40.3 inches, while the X5 has 39.8 inches of front legroom.

BMW X3 vs. X5 Cargo Space

2023 BMW X5 Trunk

The most obvious benefit of the X5’s larger body is its extra cargo capacity over the X3. The X5 offers up to 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 72.3 cubic feet of total cargo space behind the front seats. With the rear seats in place, the X3 offers up to 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space and a total of 62.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded.

In the compact class, the X3 offers one of the larger cargo areas, as few of the X3’s competitors have the same amount of total cargo space as BMW’s model. While the X5 has a usable amount of cargo space, segment leaders in the midsize SUV segment, like the Volvo XC90, offer more than 80 cubic feet of total cargo space.

BMW X3 vs. X5 Reliability

2024 BMW X3 front view

From a reliability standpoint, the X3 and X5 are evenly matched. According to Consumer Reports reliability data for the 2024 model year, the X3 earns a 73 out of 100 predicted reliability score and a four out of five predicted owner satisfaction score. Consumer Reports ranked the X3 in first place out of 23 total luxury compact SUVs.

The X5 has an identical 82 out of 100 predicted reliability score but has a slightly higher five out of five owner satisfaction score. In Consumer Reports’ rankings, the X5 sits at the top of its luxury midsize SUV list.

X3 or X5: Which BMW SUV Is Better?

If having a third row of seats is a necessity, only the BMW X5 will fit the bill. While the third seats aren’t roomy enough for adults, they’re more than large enough for children to use regularly. On top of having an available third row, the X5 is a better option for shoppers looking for a midsize SUV with a roomy cargo area, spacious rear seats, and a punchy optional V8 engine.

The more affordable and smaller BMW X3 will appeal to drivers who don’t need a third row. It’s much cheaper than the X5, is easier to drive, and has more space in the first row. In its class, the X3 offers a generous amount of cargo capacity. BMW gave the X3 a facelift with updated styling, revised tech features, and updated powertrains for the 2022 model, while the slightly newer X5 was refreshed in 2024.

We recommend doing your own research and looking into both SUVs for your unique priorities. For most drivers, the X3 will be the best option.

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Content Editor

Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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