2019 BMW X5 vs. 2019 Ford Flex

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The X5’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Flex doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The X5 has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Flex offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The X5 has standard Active Protection, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Flex doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

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

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the X5’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Flex doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

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 Flex doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

A passive infrared night vision system optional on the X5 helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Flex doesn’t offer a night vision system.

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

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

The X5’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Flex doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

Warranty

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 Flex’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 Flex’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X5 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Flex.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 10 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The X5 xDrive40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 48 more horsepower (335 vs. 287) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 254) than the Flex’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6. The X5 xDrive50i’s standard 4.4 turbo V8 produces 91 more horsepower (456 vs. 365) and 129 lbs.-ft. more torque (479 vs. 350) than the Flex Limited’s optional 3.5 turbo V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the X5 gets better fuel mileage than the Flex:

 

 

X5

Flex

 

2WD

 

n/a

16 city/23 hwy

V6/Auto

4WD

xDrive40i/Auto

20 city/26 hwy

16 city/22 hwy

V6/Auto

 

xDrive50i/Auto

17 city/22 hwy

15 city/21 hwy

Turbo V6/Auto

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

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the X5’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Flex doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The X5 has 3.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Flex (21.9 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW X5, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Flex.

The X5’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Flex doesn’t offer launch control.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the X5 has larger standard tires than the Flex (265/50R19 vs. 235/60R18). The X5’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Flex (F:275/40R21 & R:315/35R21 vs. 255/45R20).

The X5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Flex SEL’s standard 60 series tires. The X5’s optional 275/35R22 front and 315/30R22 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the Flex’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X5 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Flex SE. The X5’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the Flex.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available 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 Flex doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The X5 offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The Flex doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The X5 offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Ford doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Flex.

The X5 has a standard 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 Flex’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the X5 is .7 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Flex.

The X5’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the Flex’s (54.4% to 45.6%). This gives the X5 more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The X5 is 7.5 inches shorter than the Flex, making the X5 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the X5 uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Flex doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the X5’s available third row seats recline. The Flex’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the X5’s available tailgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Flex doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The X5’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Flex’s (6603 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Ford Flex is only 4500 pounds. The X5 offers up to a 7209 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the X5 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Flex. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 46% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

The X5 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Flex 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 Flex’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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

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

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the X5 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Flex doesn’t offer cornering lights.

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 Flex’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The X5 has standard 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 Flex has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 is only available on the Flex SEL/Limited.

Recommendations

The BMW X5 outsold the Ford Flex by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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