Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 BMW X5 VS 2012 Toyota Highlander Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2012 BMW X5

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2012 Toyota Highlander

Safety Comparison

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All Wheel Drive is standard on the X5. But it costs extra on the Highlander.

The X5’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Highlander doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The X5 offers an optional Top View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Highlander only offers a rear monitor.

The X5 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Highlander doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the X5 and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

The X5 comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The X5’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Highlander’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X5 for 2 years and 25000 miles longer than Toyota pays for maintenance for the Highlander (4/50,000 vs. 2/25000).

Reliability Comparison

The battery on the X5 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the X5’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Highlander’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine Comparison

The X5 has more powerful engines than the Highlander:



X5 xDrive35i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

300 HP

300 lbs.-ft.

X5 xDrive50i 4.4 turbo V8

400 HP

450 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

187 HP

186 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 3.5 DOHC V6

270 HP

248 lbs.-ft.

Highlander Hybrid 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid

280 HP


The X5’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 78 more horsepower (265 vs. 187) and 239 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 186) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The X5’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 177 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 248) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the X5 xDrive35i is faster than the Toyota Highlander V6:



Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.5 MPH

87.7 MPH

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the X5’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the Highlander:


X5 xDrive35i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

1300 RPM

X5 xDrive50i 4.4 turbo V8

1750 RPM

Highlander 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

4100 RPM

Highlander 3.5 DOHC V6

4700 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The X5 has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (22.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The X5 has 3.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander’s standard fuel tank (22.5 vs. 19.2 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the X5’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander:

X5 xDrive35

X5 xDrive50i


Front Rotors

13.7 inches

15.2 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.6 inches

12.2 inches

The X5’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

The X5 stops much shorter than the Highlander:



70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the X5 has larger standard tires than the Highlander (255/55R18 vs. 245/65R17). The X5’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (F:275/40R20 & R:315/35R20 vs. 245/65R17).

The X5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander’s standard 65 series tires. The X5’s optional 275/40R20 front and 315/35R20 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Highlander’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X5 has standard 18 inch wheels. Smaller 17 inch wheels are standard on the Highlander. The X5’s optional 20 inch wheels are larger than the 19 inch wheels optional on the Highlander.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X5 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Highlander doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The X5 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The X5 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The X5 offers an optional automatic rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Highlander doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The X5 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X5’s wheelbase is 5.7 inches longer than on the Highlander (115.5 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

The X5 xDrive35i handles at .89 G’s, while the Highlander SE AWD pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The X5 xDrive35i performs Car and Driver’s emergency lane change maneuver 2.4 MPH faster than the Highlander SE AWD (57.8 vs. 55.4 MPH).

The X5 xDrive35d executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Highlander SE AWD (27.5 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the X5 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander Hybrid (8.7 vs. 8 inches), allowing the X5 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The X5’s minimum ground clearance is .6 inch higher than on the Highlander (8.7 vs. 8.1 inches).

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The X5’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the tailgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Highlander’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Ergonomics Comparison

When three different drivers share the X5, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Highlander doesn’t offer a memory system.

The X5’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The X5 offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and navigation instruction readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the X5 and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the X5 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The X5’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Highlander’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left down on the X5 the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The X5’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Highlander’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the X5 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Highlander doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The X5 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Highlander doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the X5 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the X5 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Highlander doesn’t offer cornering lights. The X5 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The X5’s standard power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Highlander’s standard power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

When the X5 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Highlander’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The X5 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the X5 and the Highlander offer available heated front seats. The X5 also offers optional heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated second row seats aren’t available in the Highlander.

The X5’s optional air conditioned front seats cool the driver and front passenger and help take the sting out of hot leather in Summer. The Highlander doesn’t offer air conditioned front seats.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the X5 offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Highlander doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Optional BMW Apps for the X5 allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, tagging songs to buy them later, following twitter accounts and other online activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The Highlander doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The X5 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The Intellichoice estimates that the X5 will retain 49.18% to 95.23% of its original price after five years, while the Highlander only retains 45.81% to 54.84%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the X5 is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because it costs $308 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the X5 than the Highlander, including $98 less for front brake pads, $253 less for a starter, $332 less for fuel injection, $1072 less for a fuel pump and $513 less for a timing belt/chain.

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