Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

2018 BMW X5

Can the X5 Be a Good Off-Roader?

The right vehicle can make a drastic difference when out in nature off the beaten path. Some vehicles just aren’t meant for off-road environments. They may lack the necessary engine and drivetrain or fail to provide the reliability that true off-roaders have. Choosing the wrong vehicle can be detrimental and unsafe. That is why it is important to know what to look for to find that perfect option. The best off-roader will be a vehicle that gives you the capability and reliability to keep on going in tough, challenging conditions without breaking down. On the surface, finding the right vehicle is rather easy. As long as it has some horsepower under the hood, four-wheel-drive, and some extra cargo and passenger space, you’re good to go. In most cases, this can be enough, which is why a good SUV often fits the bill for extended trips. Unfortunately, it is not always that easy to find the right vehicle. Going with an SUV alone isn’t always a guarantee for success since some SUVs are better than others for off-roading purposes. To know how to tell the difference, you need to keep your eye on a few important vehicular traits the next time you are searching for a great off-road vehicle. Check out the BMW X5.


Forgetting About Brands

It is tempting to think that purchasing a vehicle of a particular make and model is enough to find that perfect vehicle. That is why so many people invest a lot of money into certain brands like Jeep, Chevy, or Ford right off the bat.

While many manufacturers have built a respectable reputation for off-road-oriented vehicles, restricting your search to just these brands can be a bad choice. For one thing, specific models within a particular manufacturer are not always the best off-road choices. Even particular model years can range in off-road quality, meaning you may not be buying the best option right off the bat.

Second, there are plenty of other makes and models that may lack the established reputation of these brands that can still be a great off-roading platform. For example, something like the BMW X series is a respectable off-road SUV with the right modifications and setup.

If you want to give yourself the best range of options to consider before purchasing a new vehicle, forget about focusing on just certain brands. Instead, pay attention to the specifications and performance metrics that matter most in off-road settings. A vehicle that has a good set of specifications geared for off-roading environments will be a better bet than a model from a well-respected manufacturer.


Performance Under The Hood

One of the most important things to look at when finding your next off-roading SUV is the power and capability of that vehicle. This means you will have to look under the hood and at the undercarriage to see what kind of engine and drivetrain the SUV has.

Most off-roading vehicles come with V-6 or V-8 engines. While you can get great results with a four-cylinder engine, the extra cylinders provide the horsepower and torque required for navigating challenging terrain and difficult driving conditions. When searching for the model with the best engine, pay attention to the torque output the engine provides. In off-road settings, torque can help propel a vehicle through difficult terrains such as mud and snow and is a better indication of capability than horsepower alone.

The choice of the right drivetrain is also important. By far, the standard of off-road vehicles is four-wheel-drive. This is slightly different from all-wheel drive since a 4 x 4 drivetrain includes a setting for front or rear wheel drive only. This makes the four-wheel option reserved for off-roading conditions while the standard two-wheel drive is used for normal, everyday trips and commutes.



A good off-roading vehicle doesn’t take much to survive in its natural environment. For starters, as long as you have a great engine and drivetrain combination, you’re halfway there. Still, a few extra upgrades and accessories can go a long way to increasing your vehicle’s performance or making the ride a smooth, comfortable experience.

This is why you have to pay attention to the customizability of a potential SUV you’re considering. The right SUV should have some upgrade packages and options straight from the manufacturer if it is a new model. If it is used, it should be able to accept some typical off-roading upgrades and accessories.

One of the most common upgrades is a lift kit. This type of kit raises the suspension and chassis of the vehicle to increase ground clearance and allow room for larger tires. In the end, this kind of upgrade can be done on most SUVs, particularly ones with solid axle configurations.

The space you have for carrying passengers and cargo is an important consideration for the best off-roader as well. Long off-roading and overland trips will require extra supplies and tools. The best SUVs offer plenty of space for such supplies.

If an option doesn’t have the most amount of cargo space, all is not lost. Accessories such as cargo and roof racks are good for expanding the cargo capacity of the vehicle. In this case, an SUV with built-in roof racks may be a better purchase to save money down the road.


Finding The Right Option For Yourself

It doesn’t take much to find the perfect new or used off-roading SUV for your next overland adventure. Knowing where to look and what to look for is the best way to quickly and efficiently find the perfect option. Keep an eye out for the right engine, drivetrain, cargo space, and customizability potential. A vehicle that hits most of these checkboxes will be a good choice to consider. When you have the choices narrowed down to a couple of possibilities, be sure to get some test rides in for that personal experience behind the wheel. There is no better way to know an SUV than when you drive it.

For the best results, check out how lesser-known options like the BMW X series might be the perfect off-road vehicle for you.