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Q7 vs X5 review from former X5 owner

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Old 09-10-2017, 07:42 PM
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Default Q7 vs X5 review from former X5 owner

I have been buying BMWs since 2000 and have owned a bunch of X5s since then (over 10). This year I drove my first Audi in a long time, a 2016 A5 convertible and loved it. Later I tried the 2017 Q7 and also liked it. Three weeks ago I traded my latest X5 in for a 2017 Q7 which now has 1500 miles on it. Figured I'd write my comparison of the Q7 and X5.

I am comparing the Q7 Premium Plus with the 2017 X5 3.5i. The X5 has several trims for the 3.5i, my latest was the MSport trim. Lots to compare and I'll give it my best shot.

Steering

This is frankly what attracted me most to the Q7 (with the engine a close 2nd). The Q7 steering has a decent road feel to it where the X5 is very soft and isolated. The X5 issues started with the F15 in 2014, the old E70 did not have that issue.

Engine and Transmission

Two different approaches since the Q7 has a supercharger and the X5 a turbo charger. The X5 does have turbo lag and the base engine without the M performance pack lags a bit from a dead start. The X5 3.5 is superb at higher revs/speeds and passing is very strong. The Q7 impressed me because it is strong from a dead start. I really like how strong it feels initially. That said, the Q7 is a little slower at higher speeds/revs and you can feel it pulling the extra weight.

Both the Q7 and X5 use the same transmission from ZF but for some reason the Q7 downshifts more often. That appears to be related to the size of the Q7. The transmission is very smooth in both.

Overall gas mileage is similar with the X5 and Q7. Note I owned the X5 5.0i for a while. It is in a different league for performance but also expensive and unreliable.

Drive

The X5 softened with the F15 (I never bought the adaptive suspension) and that was fine. But the X5 does not feel as well put together in how it drives. The Q7 feels better planted and more luxurious when driving it. The Q7 suspension is a perfect middle ground between sport and comfort for me. Only negative for the Q7 is it is around 7 inches longer than the X5 and the X5 drives a bit better around tight corners.

Really remarkable how well Audi has made the Q7 drive for its size. BMW has work to do for the new X5/X7.

Seating

Not sure what happened to BMW and their seats in the X5. The ventilated seat they offer is terrible and painful on longer trips. The sport seat also loses it's comfort on longer trips. The multi-contour and base seats are better. The Q7 seats are wonderful and I love them. Very comfortable and I do not find myself moving around as often.

The Q7 offers more room in the rear seats. For the front seats there is a bit more leg room length in the Q7, but the Q7 feels a little more narrow since the center console is so wide.

General Ergonomics

Both the X5 and Q7 have a similar flat dash look and both use high end materials. The X5 does not offer anything close to the virtual cockpit which is awesome in the Q7. But -- I strongly prefer iDrive over Audi MMI. The touchpad in the Q7 baffles me and it a space waster. The steering wheel controls on the X5 integrate better with the dash and iDrive where the Q7 still feels a little separate. On the other hand, the virtual cockpit is so outstanding that I prefer the Q7 overall.

Most controls are similar in the two, I wish the Audi windows controls were a little more forward. The X5 allows start-stop to be permanently turned off, an annoyance in the Q7.

Air conditioning is much better in the Q7 - the X5 has had issues in the F15. I prefer the X5 sunroof since it goes back further.

Safety

The packages on the Q7 seems to make a little more sense than the X5 since more safety features are included. Blind spot detection on the X5 is hard to see while it is awesome on the Q7.

The X5 offers a donut spare which allows you to ditch the run flat tires which I always did. Props to BMW on that. I have the 20" Goodyear run flats on the Q7 and they drive surprisingly well but I would still prefer to have a spare available and more tire choices.

Misc Features

BMW does not offer a factory hitch for the X5 and chargers around $2K at the dealer. The Q7 offers it at a reasonable price from the factory. Enough said!

The BMW Harmon Kardon stereo upgrade is similar to the Audi Bose upgrade. The HK sounds a little quicker and the Bose has a little deeper base. I lean a bit toward the HK but both are fine for me and worthy upgrades over the base units.

Both navigation systems are nice but I like how Audi allows you to download updates over the air (but still don't get why Audi Connect is needed instead of using my phone). Google Maps is very nice on the Q7 and general internet type features are nicer on the Q7. But very close since BMW continues to update iDrive.

The Q7 hatch raises higher than the X5 and caught me by surprise with my garage door.

Heated seats are awesome on both, the Q7 has a better heated steering wheel switch.

Cupholders are a little nicer in the X5 - a bit larger.

The center armrest in the Q7 drives me nuts since it moves. Seems to slide too much where the X5 was stationary.

All that said, the X5 interior feels overall a bit dated compared to the Q7. Audi really did a nice job with the Q7.

Looks

The Q7 takes a beating on the X5 forums for its looks. I disagree and find the Q7 to look more modern/fresh than the X5. While I wish the Q7 didn't look so close to the Mazda CX-9, I love the clean lines and appearance which seems to maximize space inside.

Summary

I'm sure I missed something obvious - lots to cover. I really like the Q7. It is a well built and fun to drive car. The X5 feels a bit tired compared to it, bit the X5 will refresh in the next year with an all new model.

X5s are a bit more expensive but a lot easier to find and custom order. I was frustrated with how hard it is to find Q7s in Minneapolis where they sell like hotcakes.

Next step is seeing how the Q7 ages. The X5s I had were fairly reliable and rattle free even though my last one had some electronic gremlins.

OK, enough for now!
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Old 09-10-2017, 08:31 PM
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That X7 is huge.

Last edited by rsilvers129; 09-10-2017 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 09-11-2017, 04:34 AM
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Nicely summarized! The X5 was on my list too during initial shortlisting. In the end, the Q7 won due its overall better build, quality and technology. Not to forget the additional 3rd row (at no extra cost) for those moments when you need additional seating!
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:28 AM
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Agree on most points as this is similar to why I bought the Q over the X...its just getting a bit dated and needs a serious refresh. However, I think that the Q does not beat the drive and nimbleness of the X5. Its is lighter and smaller so that makes a difference. Lugging the Q around is hard work
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by A5007 View Post
Steering

This is frankly what attracted me most to the Q7 (with the engine a close 2nd). The Q7 steering has a decent road feel to it where the X5 is very soft and isolated. The X5 issues started with the F15 in 2014, the old E70 did not have that issue.

Engine and Transmission


Drive

The X5 softened with the F15 (I never bought the adaptive suspension) and that was fine. But the X5 does not feel as well put together in how it drives. The Q7 feels better planted and more luxurious when driving it. The Q7 suspension is a perfect middle ground between sport and comfort for me. Only negative for the Q7 is it is around 7 inches longer than the X5 and the X5 drives a bit better around tight corners.
Nice comparison, thanks for helping those of us trying to decide between the two.
Are you a spirited driver? I love driving my X5 through turns and corner and ramps and merges, it's very predictable, you know exactly how it will react. I think you are the first person to say XF does not feel as well put together. When I test drove Q7, it felt like driving a stretch limo or minivan, never drove a limo but drove minivans, and I thought the rear was going to slide off the road when I make quick turns. Like you said it could be the 7-10 inches talking when I make those turns, but Q7 did not feel as planted as my non-DHP '15 X5 did. I must admit, I keep it in Sport almost all the time.

X5 got a lot softer going from E70 to F15, that's for sure, but eventually it settles. I don't know if BMW put some kind of self adjusting or stiffening shocks on X5, maybe they want to impress the lexus or MB folks but eventually sink in to what it is today. The tires/pressure makes a big difference in X5. I never keep it at recommended PSI. When I test drove F15 first, I thought it was jumpy over bumps, not as planted, felt like it stayed up in the air longer than my old X5 did.. Eventually I never feel that way after 25k miles in mine.

I would love to hear from someone who went with X5 instead of Q7 after driving an Audi, but I don't think there are many people with new Q7 getting ready to buy end of life X5. EOL is one reason why I am considering Q7. Otherwise, still BMW drives much better than anything else I test drove, and I feel like I would have to adjust my driving habits if I get a Q7, My X5 can drift on tight turns with loose pavement and never makes me worry that it will tip over. No such feeling on Q7 or XC90.

How well does Q7 downshift on demand? One thing X5 made worse was engine braking and manual shifting, which could be better on Msport, but on regular trims when you go from gear 4 to 3 on highway, there is a gap where x5 rides on neutral and lunges forward before it down shifts and uses engine brake. I got used to this over time, but I wish it didn't downshift so slowly. How is Q7?
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by hayde_bre View Post
Nice comparison, thanks for helping those of us trying to decide between the two.
Are you a spirited driver? I love driving my X5 through turns and corner and ramps and merges, it's very predictable, you know exactly how it will react. I think you are the first person to say XF does not feel as well put together. When I test drove Q7, it felt like driving a stretch limo or minivan, never drove a limo but drove minivans, and I thought the rear was going to slide off the road when I make quick turns. Like you said it could be the 7-10 inches talking when I make those turns, but Q7 did not feel as planted as my non-DHP '15 X5 did. I must admit, I keep it in Sport almost all the time.

X5 got a lot softer going from E70 to F15, that's for sure, but eventually it settles. I don't know if BMW put some kind of self adjusting or stiffening shocks on X5, maybe they want to impress the lexus or MB folks but eventually sink in to what it is today. The tires/pressure makes a big difference in X5. I never keep it at recommended PSI. When I test drove F15 first, I thought it was jumpy over bumps, not as planted, felt like it stayed up in the air longer than my old X5 did.. Eventually I never feel that way after 25k miles in mine.

I would love to hear from someone who went with X5 instead of Q7 after driving an Audi, but I don't think there are many people with new Q7 getting ready to buy end of life X5. EOL is one reason why I am considering Q7. Otherwise, still BMW drives much better than anything else I test drove, and I feel like I would have to adjust my driving habits if I get a Q7, My X5 can drift on tight turns with loose pavement and never makes me worry that it will tip over. No such feeling on Q7 or XC90.

How well does Q7 downshift on demand? One thing X5 made worse was engine braking and manual shifting, which could be better on Msport, but on regular trims when you go from gear 4 to 3 on highway, there is a gap where x5 rides on neutral and lunges forward before it down shifts and uses engine brake. I got used to this over time, but I wish it didn't downshift so slowly. How is Q7?
Good points and interesting questions. I can see someone saying the X5 is more nimble overall, for me some of that is lost in the steering of the X5 which I think is too light. My Q7 has 20" tires which feel better and are a nice match for the size of the Q7.

Downshifting seems similar in both but I never had issues with my X5s. That said, the turbo lag is the X5 is noticeable and can lead to a harsher downshift as the turbo responds.

They are definitively two different SUVs. I just ended up liking the over feel of the Q7, perhaps some of it is the Q7 is different. But I do think the X5 needs significant updates to play in this market at these prices. X5 is a very good SUV - just different and older the the Q7.
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Old 09-11-2017, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by A5007 View Post
Good points and interesting questions. I can see someone saying the X5 is more nimble overall, for me some of that is lost in the steering of the X5 which I think is too light. My Q7 has 20" tires which feel better and are a nice match for the size of the Q7.

Downshifting seems similar in both but I never had issues with my X5s. That said, the turbo lag is the X5 is noticeable and can lead to a harsher downshift as the turbo responds.

They are definitively two different SUVs. I just ended up liking the over feel of the Q7, perhaps some of it is the Q7 is different. But I do think the X5 needs significant updates to play in this market at these prices. X5 is a very good SUV - just different and older the the Q7.

No doubt they are very different, and that's actually what I am afraid of. Now that lease end is approaching, I find myself appreciating X5 more and more and while I considered getting another, I am not sure if staying with same car 3 more years is going to be fun, especially when I see X7's and updated X5's on the street in about a year. Not saying I'd want 1st year BMW's but at least if I am in a different vehicle I won't feel as bad. There is a chance BMW might tempt me with an insane offer on 5.0 or 35i with DHP, that's a different story.

Only reason why I still didn't decide on Q7, as discussed in recent thread lack of auto hold is going to be very annoying, and the 3rd row is not as large as it should be with the size difference going from X5 to Q7. Even similarly sized XC90 has much more spacious 3rd row, and still have lots of cargo space. Where did all that space go on Q7, I can't figure out.

I agree 100% with some of the things you mentioned like half-usable blind spot monitoring, not only barely visible, but also inactive on slower speeds, and even when coded, not being able to tell that I am on a curve and going nuts when I make the turn at slower speed on two-lane-turns. I guess that's why it was active only at higher speeds. The lane shift detection worked very well, though, no doubt.

How would you compare the headlight performance on these two vehicles, how about leg comfort on long drive. I found myself never keeping my foot on foot rest because BMW didn't feel like a vehicle I should be stretching my left leg. Maybe because the seats have so much shoulder and hip room, keeping my foot near seat felt more comfortable. I believe Q7 has narrow hip room on front, more cozy seating than super wide feeling X5?

Have you considered other vehicles?
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by hayde_bre View Post
No doubt they are very different, and that's actually what I am afraid of. Now that lease end is approaching, I find myself appreciating X5 more and more and while I considered getting another, I am not sure if staying with same car 3 more years is going to be fun, especially when I see X7's and updated X5's on the street in about a year. Not saying I'd want 1st year BMW's but at least if I am in a different vehicle I won't feel as bad. There is a chance BMW might tempt me with an insane offer on 5.0 or 35i with DHP, that's a different story.

Only reason why I still didn't decide on Q7, as discussed in recent thread lack of auto hold is going to be very annoying, and the 3rd row is not as large as it should be with the size difference going from X5 to Q7. Even similarly sized XC90 has much more spacious 3rd row, and still have lots of cargo space. Where did all that space go on Q7, I can't figure out.

I agree 100% with some of the things you mentioned like half-usable blind spot monitoring, not only barely visible, but also inactive on slower speeds, and even when coded, not being able to tell that I am on a curve and going nuts when I make the turn at slower speed on two-lane-turns. I guess that's why it was active only at higher speeds. The lane shift detection worked very well, though, no doubt.

How would you compare the headlight performance on these two vehicles, how about leg comfort on long drive. I found myself never keeping my foot on foot rest because BMW didn't feel like a vehicle I should be stretching my left leg. Maybe because the seats have so much shoulder and hip room, keeping my foot near seat felt more comfortable. I believe Q7 has narrow hip room on front, more cozy seating than super wide feeling X5?

Have you considered other vehicles?
Sounds like you lease. Then I'd do the Q7 because a new X5 will be out on the road in the next 1-2 years as BMW cuts its regular 7 year lifecycle short. Then you can get back in one later

Agree, where is the cargo space. For as big at the Q is, its usable cargo space is inadequate. I think the slope in the back takes away a bunch of height and space

I think the headlights are seriously the worst feature of this car. The LEDs are not as good as standard BMW Xenons. They dont brighten up as much, and dont swivel on turns either....wtf?!?! Even 10 year old BMWs do that....
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BigKutta View Post
I think the headlights are seriously the worst feature of this car. The LEDs are not as good as standard BMW Xenons. They dont brighten up as much, and dont swivel on turns either....wtf?!?! Even 10 year old BMWs do that....
Agreed, not a big fan of the Audi LED headlights. Thats because the NA got dumped with the non-matrix LED lights that is otherwise available in rest of the world. We need to update our regulations!

However, as per my understanding and recollection from a previous discussion on this forum, Audi has moved beyond the need for headlights to swivel. Instead the LEDs brighten up in response to steering wheel direction to illuminate the road ahead.

Audi Lighting Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5bB...ature=youtu.be
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sr007 View Post
Agreed, not a big fan of the Audi LED headlights. Thats because the NA got dumped with the non-matrix LED lights that is otherwise available in rest of the world. We need to update our regulations!

However, as per my understanding and recollection from a previous discussion on this forum, Audi has moved beyond the need for headlights to swivel. Instead the LEDs brighten up in response to steering wheel direction to illuminate the road ahead.

Audi Lighting Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5bB...ature=youtu.be
I hear you about the regs, but BMW has been hit with them too for their LED technology. However, the lights are just better, period! I see how the Audi is trying to compensate, but it just doesnt pass mustard atleast based on my real-life experience with it
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