Diesel SUVs'


I am looking to purchase either an Audi Q7 TDI or BMW X5 diesel engine SUV. I would like to hear from current owners what they think of these vehicles and how safe they are to drive. I live in Central Alabama so 4WD is not a big issue but I would like to have something that is safe for future grandkids.

Why diesel?

Any modern vehicle will be safe; they have to pass rigorous testing to even be able to sell a vehicle here in the US. I’d be more worried about the extra money that’ll be needed for these vehicles. Diesel fuel is more expensive, as is maintenance and repairs since they’re Euro brands

We have a 2011 diesel X5. It’s been great so far. The passing and merging power is outstanding; most of the time you don’t even need to downshift. The fuel economy has been good, although I don’t really track the exact numbers, and the range is huge (over 600 miles on the highway). The ride is a bit on the firm side but not uncomfortable. The electronics and controls are somewhat complicated, so you’ll probably need to spend some extra time reading that part of the owner’s manual. You’ll want to put disposable plastic gloves in the car to use when filling up, as the nozzle handles always seem to be covered in fuel. We do need to find gas stations with the car-sized nozzles; the truck-sized ones can only be used if it’s urgent because a special adapter is needed and things get messy.

I don’t know about these specific models today, but generally BMW is more reliable than Audi (but less reliable than the Asian brands).

When buying any car this expensive, the diesel motor is just one part of the decision. The savings possible in fuel economy pales in significance if the car is over priced to begin with and unreliable or has maintenance restrictions to a few high priced dealers. Having a diesel motor would be way down on the pecking order for an SUV not used for purposes that diesels excel at. Having driven and owned vehicles with diesels, at this time I find they have little advantage in SUVs that aren’t used in ways you can take advantage of the diesel motor especially given the $4600 price difference.

Just about any new car or SUV of this class will be extremely safe. Both the Audi and the BMW will be fairly expensive to maintain, once you’re past the warranty period. You might also consider the Mercedes GL and ML diesel models. But something like a Honda Pilot or Buick Enclave would be just as functional.

Since 2007, both the X5 and Q7 have had minimal problems according to MSN Autos. They will be more expensive to fix if something goes wrong, but that is more a function of being luxury vehicles with a diesel engine than the manufacturers being inherently unreliable. If you buy new and take meticulous car of it, you should have few, if any, problems.

FWIW, the X5 is assembled in Greer, SC while the Q7 is assembled either in Bratislava, Slovakia or Sarajevo, Bosnia. You could pick up the X5 at the factory and drive it on the BMW road course nearby.

The Q7 predicted reliability from Consumer Reports is ‘much worse than average’, the X5 is ‘average’.

Audi still hasn’t demonstrated improved reliability, and their history is poor. BMWs better, MB better still.

Neither vehicle is safe for you wallet!!! Even if they used no fuel at all they would still be very expenisive in upkeep. Not sure why you want one.


If we look at the Warranty Week data, BMW reliability is excellent, MB is worst, and Audi is not reported. Also, I used MSN Autos reliability ratings, which are based on Automotive Information Systems data. When you ignore the hype, the following information posted by MSN Autos tells how much data is available:

“MSN Autos obtains its Reliability Ratings from Auto Information Services (AIS), the nation’s largest technical support service for the aftermarket auto repair industry. AIS fields about 250,000 calls from subscribing auto repair shops each year – roughly 20,000 per month. In addition, AIS maintains the nation’s most comprehensive on-site library of factory vehicle service manuals, some 5,200 volumes. The staff at AIS includes 31 factory-trained, ASE-certified Master Technicians with over 550 years of combined experience dealing firsthand with vehicle diagnostic and repair problems. AIS produces MSN Autos’ Reliability Ratings by analyzing patterns displayed by thousands of repair requests the company receives from automotive technicians all across the country.”

That information is at least as reliable as Consumer Reports, and I think it is much more reliable.

@jtsanders - I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t write off CR, either, they have 1,300,000 surveys per year.5X AIS.

Have to agree with Docnick. Why do you want one? Do you need to tow or is it fuel economy? If the latter I’d say you really need to look at the numbers. I did a quick calculation and based on current prices at the pump (if I were buying the car with cash) I would probably be better off or break even by placing the difference in price into CDs or the stock market.

On the safety issue I think you would be hard pressed to find an “unsafe” car made in the last couple of years. It seems that “safe” is a rolling definition. Not to get too off-topic, but the safety is also relative to the driver. I remember seeing statistics that while you are less likely to die in a multiple vehicle accident in a light truck, you are more likely to die in a single vehicle accident. Opposite was true for smaller vehicles- I believe much of this had to do with rollover risks, which has been mitigated to an extent with stability control systems. I think the source of the statistics was either NHTSA or IIHS, don’t remember which. That and I doubt diesels are going to be any safer than their gasoline powered equivalents. Unless you get in a firey wreck.

Jtsanders…I appreciate the validity of your source. But, do they include dealer service deparments ? If not, where more then half of the original owners go to receive their service, then the sources for AIS would be lacking.

Any new vehicle is plenty safe for grandkids. Safety isn’t a real issue. Now, access and ease of installing and removing car seats and getting the kids in and out of said seats is an issue. I

Whether to buy a diesel version or not, that is an issue. If you must have a diesel motor, go for it. It will cost you more money over a gas motor, significantly more. The diesel will require more maintenance, and significantly more expensive maintenance. And if the diesel requires non warranty repairs someday, that will be a lot more expensive too.

Then there is the cost of fuel. The extra mpg you get is partly offset by the significantly higher cost per gallon of diesel in the US. So, if you get 20% better mpg and spend 20% more per gallon it is a wash. Don’t buy the diesel versions of these SUV’s without running the numbers to see if you will realize any real savings and benefits.

If you drive a lot of miles per year (like 20-30K) and trade the vehicles before the factory warranty expires then it could be a good deal. If you just drive 6000-8000 miles a year and want to keep the SUV for 10 years I don’t think the numbers support that decision.

If you need the pulling power fine,otherwise the payback is hard to realize-Kevin

For what it’s worth, the payback was a lot better in 2010, when BMW offered a rebate and the federal government gave a tax credit, adding up to around $6,000 if I remember correctly. That more than canceled out the extra cost of the diesel model.

The tax credits help with the purchase of EVs as well, but. I philosophically have a problem with paying myself through my own tax dollars to buy a car. House insulation, efficient energy use and other long term pay back capital expenses, yes.

Cars are now expendibles and the payback for my tax dollar is questionable. If they can’t or won’t make energy efficient cars for a reasonable consumer price, the govt. needs to step in on the front end and mandate it as they do with lots of items on cars now and help with the technology from the defense industry like they have for years with other products…

I just don’t like my tax dollar going directly for CEO bonuses and some one else stock dividends. Let the diesel rise and fall on it’s own accord. I love them but don’t want to pay twice.