Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2013 BMW X5 VS 2013 Ford Explorer Near Phoenix, AZ

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2013 BMW X5

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2013 Ford Explorer

Safety Comparison

The X5 has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Explorer doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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

The BMW X5 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Explorer doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The X5 offers an optional Top View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

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

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the BMW X5 is safer than the Ford Explorer:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Chest Movement

.6 inches

.8 inches

Abdominal Force

84 G’s

135 G’s

Hip Force

138 lbs.

295 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

19 inches

22 inches




Spine Acceleration

52 G’s

53 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 Explorer’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 Explorer’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X5 for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Explorer.

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the X5 has a standard 210 amp alternator (220 amp - X5 xDrive50i). The Explorer’s standard 175 amp alternator and largest (XLT/Limited/Sport) 200 amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

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 Explorer’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the X5’s reliability will be 132% better than the Ford Explorer 2WD and 215% better than the Ford Explorer 4WD.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 27th, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

The X5 has more powerful engines than the Explorer:



X5 xDrive35i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

300 HP

300 lbs.-ft.

X5 xDrive50i 4.4 turbo V8

400 HP

450 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

240 HP

270 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.5 DOHC V6

290 HP

255 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Sport 3.5 turbo V6

350 HP

350 lbs.-ft.

The X5’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 25 more horsepower (265 vs. 240) and 155 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 270) than the Explorer’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The X5’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 170 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 255) than the Explorer’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6. The X5’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 75 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 350) than the Explorer Sport’s standard 3.5 turbo V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the X5 xDrive35i is faster than the Ford Explorer:


Explorer turbo 4 cyl.

Explorer V6

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

9.2 sec

8.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

16.9 sec

16.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.5 MPH

82.9 MPH

88.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the X5 xDrive35i gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer Sport 4WD turbo V6 (16 city/23 hwy vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the X5’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Explorer doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The X5 has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Explorer (22.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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

X5 xDrive35i

X5 xDrive50i


Front Rotors

13.7 inches

15.2 inches

12.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.6 inches

12.8 inches

The X5 stops much shorter than the Explorer:



70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the X5 has larger standard tires than the Explorer (255/55R18 vs. 245/65R17). The X5’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Explorer (F:275/40R20 & R:315/35R20 vs. 255/50R20).

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 Explorer’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 Explorer’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X5 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Explorer.

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 Explorer doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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 Explorer’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 Explorer doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X5’s wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than on the Explorer (115.5 inches vs. 112.6 inches).

The X5 xDrive35i handles at .89 G’s, while the Explorer Limited 4WD pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The X5 xDrive35i executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Explorer Limited (28.3 seconds @ .59 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .56 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the X5 has a 1.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8.7 vs. 7.6 inches), allowing the X5 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis Comparison

The X5 is 6 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the X5 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the X5 xDrive35d is quieter than the Explorer Limited 4WD (73 vs. 75 dB).

Cargo Capacity Comparison

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the X5 easier. The X5’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 30 inches, while the Explorer’s liftover is 31.3 inches.

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

Ergonomics Comparison

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 Explorer doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 Explorer’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. With the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport’s power windows, only the front windows 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 Explorer can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The X5 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

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 Explorer’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

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 Explorer doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Consumer Reports rated the X5’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Explorer’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

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 Explorer doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The X5 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Explorer has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLT/Limited/Sport.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the X5 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Explorer 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 outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Ford only offers heated mirrors on the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport.

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 Explorer’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 Explorer offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the X5 and the Explorer 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 Explorer.

The X5 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Explorer and isn’t available on the Explorer Base.

The X5’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Explorer Base doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the X5, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Bluetooth costs extra on the Explorer.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the X5 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the X5 with a number “5” insurance rate while the Explorer is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The X5 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the X5 will retain a greater percentage of its original price after two and four years than the Explorer.



Four Year

39% to 43%

32% to 34%

Two Year

54% to 61%

48% to 50%

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the X5 is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because it costs $525 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the X5 than the Explorer, including $149 less for a water pump and $32 less for a timing belt/chain.

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