2019 Toyota Highlander vs. 2019 BMW X5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Highlander are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Highlander and the X5 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Highlander the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The X5 has not been tested, yet.


Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Highlander 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X5. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the X5 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 4 times as many Toyota dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander’s warranty.


A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Highlander’s reliability 31 points higher than the X5.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 7th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. BMW is ranked 8th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Highlander LE Plus AWD V6 gets better fuel mileage than the X5 xDrive40i (20 city/27 hwy vs. 20 city/26 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Highlander uses regular unleaded gasoline. The X5 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Highlander’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the X5’s (38.7 feet vs. 41.4 feet).


The Toyota Highlander may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 700 pounds less than the BMW X5.

The design of the Toyota Highlander amounts to more than styling. The Highlander offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .33 to .34 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the X5 (.36 to .38) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Highlander get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Highlander has standard seating for 8 passengers; the X5 can only carry up to 7.

The Highlander has 4.4 inches more front legroom, 1.2 inches more rear headroom, 1 inch more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the X5.

Cargo Capacity

The Highlander’s cargo area provides more volume than the X5.




Third Seat Folded

42.3 cubic feet


Third Seat Removed


33.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

83.7 cubic feet

72.3 cubic feet

The Highlander’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X5’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.


The Highlander has a much higher standard payload capacity than the X5 (1370 vs. 849 lbs.).

The Highlander has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the X5 (1455 vs. 871 lbs.).


Consumer Reports rated the Highlander’s headlight performance “Good” to “Very Good” (depending on model and options), a higher rating than the X5’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

Model Availability

The Highlander is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X5 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.


The Toyota Highlander has won recognition from these important consumer publications:




Consumer Reports® Recommends

Top Pick


Car Book “Best Bet”



The Toyota Highlander outsold the BMW X5 by over five to one during 2018.

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

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