BMW Celebrates 15 Years of the X
First BMW "Sports Activity Vehicle" Introduced in 1999
Love it or hate it, the BMW X5 has been a runaway sales success. Even in its worst full year of sales, the brand delivered nearly 27,000 X5s from their American showrooms, and the model consistently sells better than most luxury SUVs. It’s totally reasonable, then, that BMW wants to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its X-series “Sports Activity Vehicles.”
The first-generation X5 was a somewhat new take on the luxury-SUV segment. Unlike the much larger Lincoln Navigator and the more off-road friendly Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, the X5 was much more fun to drive on the pavement. Using many components from the 5-Series sedan and wagon, the X5 even featured a manual-transmission option for the first generation, befitting BMW’s branding as the Ultimate Driving Machine.
The manual transmission was discontinued in the U.S. after the X5 was redesigned for 2007, unfortunately. However, the X5 was still a sporty, fun drive, and the second generation introduced third-row seating to the SUV, sorry, SAV.
We’ve driven the third-generation X5, and we think it’s a very pleasant, luxurious vehicle. Devotees of the brand will love the new X5’s evolutionary styling and pleasant interior fittings, and we won’t be surprised if it maintains the brand’s dominance among its competitive set.
Since their introduction, the X series of vehicles has expanded to include the middleweight X3 and compact X1 crossovers. The group also includes a line of “Sports Activity Coupes,” the fastback X6 and the recently released X4. BMW even built a limited-production X5 M and X6 M from 2009 to 2013, complete with a bonkers twin-turbo V-8 and nearly 550 hp. Almost all of BMW’s X SUVs are built in the company’s South Carolina production facility.
There’s no denying that the X has been a very successful lineup for BMW. According to BMW, nearly 33 percent of the cars they sell are X models, and since 1999, more than 3 million have been sold worldwide. That’s a huge contribution to BMW’s bottom line, and with a full-size X7 coming soon, the lineup will likely be more popular than ever.