2019 BMW X5 SUV

2019 BMW X5 First Drive

Everything in Balance

byKurt Niebuhr, Vehicle Test Editor September 26th, 2018

It's been nearly 20 years since the BMW X5 first went on sale. What was seen then as a bit of a curiosity has now become a staple of the brand, with over 2.2 million examples sold.

The X5 has always struck a good balance of performance, utility and economy. For the redesigned 2019 BMW X5, there's not only new off-road capability in the mix but BMW's latest iDrive entertainment interface. To many shoppers, technology might very well be just as important as the way a vehicle drives. Can the X5 still strike a critical balance 20 years on?

What's Under the Hood?

The 2019 BMW X5 comes in two versions, the xDrive40i and the xDrive50i. The xDrive40i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that makes a respectable 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque (up 35 hp and 30 lb-ft from last year).

Should you want something more robust, the xDrive50i's redesigned twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 now makes 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque (up 11 hp and down 1 lb-ft from last year). Regardless of engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive come standard.

What's Different Outside?

The first thing you're likely to notice is the larger BMW grille. It's bold, and it immediately separates the 2019 X5 from last year's model. Considerably more subtle are the increases to length, width and overall height, which range from 1 to 2 inches. All of these add up to a vehicle with considerable visual presence, even when equipped in standard trim. The headlights you see in the photos are trick laser headlights, but LED head-, fog- and taillights are standard.

That starting xLine trim is the most easily recognizable by its black wheel arches, silver front and rear accents, and 19-inch wheels. The M Sport, available on either the xDrive40i or xDrive50i, gets unique front and rear bodywork, black window trim, body-colored wheel arches and 20-inch wheels. Both 21- and 22-inch wheels are available, and thanks to the size of the X5, neither looks particularly out of place.

What's the Interior Like?

Immediately noticeable inside are the twin 12.3-inch digital displays (BMW's Live Cockpit Professional), one for the instrument panel and the other atop the dashboard for multimedia, navigation and vehicle settings.

The instrument panel is fully configurable, displaying navigation maps, audio sources, traditional gauges and efficiency readouts per the driver's wishes. Supplementing the digital instrument panel is an optional and configurable head-up display that can show speed and navigation information.

The standard panoramic sunroof lets a good deal of light into the cabin and illuminates your choice of seating surfaces, be it faux or real leather that's available in multiple colors. A thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard, too.

The X5 remains a two-row SUV with an optional third, and the newly lengthened wheelbase gives the second row a bit of extra legroom that we've felt it needed for some time. When fitted with the third row of seats, the second row becomes power-adjustable and can tilt forward to allow easier access to the back row. Despite the increase in legroom, the third row is best suited for children.

Out back, the rear hatch is split horizontally to include a tailgate. There's a hands-free option that enables the split tailgate to open when you swipe your foot below the rear bumper. Cargo volume runs from 33.9 cubic feet with the second row of seats up to 72.3 cubic feet with them folded, which is more than a Porsche Cayenne or an Audi Q7 offers.

What About Technology?

It should come as no surprise that the 2019 BMW X5 packs its fair share of tech. Most impressive is BMW's latest iDrive entertainment system that's more customizable and faster than before. The rotary controller now has haptic feedback, and the center screen can also be controlled by touch or by hand gestures. In our brief time behind the wheel, we found the gestures reliable in controlling things such as audio volume and screen selections.

No self-respecting luxury SUV would come without some serious audio hardware. While the standard stereo, and even the optional Harman Kardon setup is difficult to fault, there's a mega system on the options list. Made by Bowers & Wilkins, the Diamond surround-sound system uses 20 speakers and 1,500 watts of power to satiate even the most discerning audiophile.

Other notable tech bits include multiple USB and USB-C ports, heated and cooled front cupholders, and an optional rear-seat entertainment system with two 10.2-inch monitors and a DVD player and HDMI jack. There's also the optional four-zone climate control system, ventilated and massaging seats, and remote-start capability.

How Does It Drive?

Pleasingly, not much has changed in the way the X5 goes down the road. Most of our time was spent driving an xDrive40i loaded up with an off-road package, leather seats with massage and ventilation, 21-inch wheels with high-performance tires, and adaptive cruise control.

The front seats are comfortable but somewhat wide, and forward visibility is very good. When combined with the fairly light steering, the X5 maneuvers its way through a crowded city with ease. The height-adjustable air suspension that comes with the off-road package does a good job dispatching most bumps, even on the large wheels, and it manages to keep body roll to a minimum.

Getting the X5 up to freeway speeds takes a good whack of the throttle, but the turbo six-cylinder pulls smoothly up to redline. Power is adequate, so it's good to know there's a stout V8 available. Gear changes are quick and smooth, and the transmission calibration is well-balanced between fuel economy and response to throttle inputs.

Curving back roads prove that BMW still believes the X5 must be fun to drive. There's no hiding its size, but in its two sport modes, the X5 stays flat and composed with nicely weighted steering and more grip than your passengers might like to experience. The optional M Sport package furthers the cause of a good road thanks to its four-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, and electronically controlled anti-roll bar and limited-slip differential.

When equipped with the off-road package, the X5 can make easy work of light off-roading. Along with an air suspension and limited-slip differential, the package also adds hill descent control, multimode terrain selector and underbody protection. A brief excursion took us up and down slippery single-track hills with total confidence.

Is It Right for You?

This capability and technology don't come cheap. The 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i starts at $61,695 and the xDrive50i at $76,745, including destination. Add a few attractive options such as the Driving Assistance Plus, with features including adaptive cruise control, and it's easy to wind up with an X5 that costs in excess of $80,000.

Of course, it all comes for a price, but the X5 has long been a favorite of ours, and the 2019 model only solidifies our beliefs. If you're coming from an older X5, the new version delivers the strengths with newer technology and even better performance. If you're looking to step into a BMW for the first time, or even just the midsize luxury SUV class, put the new X5 near the top of your list.

2019 BMW X5 First Look

More of Everything, and Then Some

byDan Frio, Reviews Editor June 5th, 2018

BMW may not have pioneered the luxury SUV, but over the last 20 years the X5 has defined the class. Unveiled today, the redesigned 2019 BMW X5 represents the fourth generation. The most noticeable difference is right up front, with a larger version of the brand's signature kidney grille that takes angular cues from last year's X7 concept. Overall, this latest X5 is larger than its third-generation predecessor that debuted a scant five years ago. It gains 1.6 inches in wheelbase, about an inch in length and height, and 2.6 inches in width.

The new X5 goes on sale this November. Buyers can choose between the xDrive40i model and its turbocharged 335-horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine or the xDrive50i that boasts a 456-hp turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. BMW estimates the xDrive40i will do 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds and the xDrive50i in 4.6 seconds. Fuel economy figures were not available at the time of this writing.

Each engine comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard. To maximize efficiency, the all-wheel-drive system automatically decouples the front wheels when they aren't needed. Inversely, if you're tackling difficult terrain, a new optional Off-Road package adds an air suspension and a locking center differential. We expect additional engine choices in the future that will enhance both efficiency and performance.

On the inside, the design is an evolution of the previous X5, with a layout featuring two 12.3-inch displays — one for the gauge cluster and another for the center infotainment screen. Available feature highlights include a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats with massage functions, heated and cooled cupholders, Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, and a rear entertainment system that offers two 10.2-inch HD displays, a Blu-ray DVD player and an HDMI input. A third-row seating option will be available in December.

Advanced driver safety aids are well-represented. In addition to the typical features found in similar luxury SUVs, the X5 is available with adaptive cruise control that operates in dense stop-and-go traffic. It also offers a system that can make automatic lane changes when you hold the turn signal and it verifies the coast is clear. Another available assistance system can handle parallel and perpendicular parking on its own.

Check back with Edmunds for more information and driving impressions as we near the on-sale date.

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