First Look – 2019 BMW X5
Fourth Generation of the Bestselling Bimmer Gets Bigger and More Powerful
The BMW X5 was introduced for the 2000 model year and quickly became one of the brand’s bestselling models. Currently, the X5 appears second on BMW’s yearly sales charts, topped only by the entry-luxury 3-Series lineup, and as one of the bestselling Bimmers on the market, the company was very careful when redesigning it for 2019.
As such, don’t expect much to change in terms of powertrain. The top-spec xDrive 50i model is powered once again by a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V-8, now producing 456 hp and 479 lb-ft (up 11 hp from 2018). However, the power peak now sits between 5,250 and 6,000 rpm, a wider span than the 5,500 to 6,000 rpm of 2018. Full torque is available from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm, wider on both ends than the 2,000 to 4,500 rpm of the outgoing engine. BMW claims the engine has been significantly revised with new heat plates that protect the engine from the turbochargers, which are located within the engine valley. There’s also a new ignition system for smoother Auto Start Stop functionality.
The base xDrive 40i’s 3.0L I-6 gets a single twin-scroll turbocharger, delivering 335 hp at 5,500–6,000 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 1,500–3,250 rpm, up a fair margin from the 2018 X5’s 300 hp and 295 lb-ft (though the 2018 engine’s power and torque peaks were over a wider rev range). Backing up both the xDrive 40i and xDrive 50i is a revised eight-speed automatic transmission with BMW’s Steptronic manual-shift capability. A wider ratio spread expands tractability in everyday driving and improves performance, while new control electronics and hydraulics provide sporty, responsive shifting.
The 2019 X5, which will continue to be produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has a larger footprint than the vehicle it replaces. At 194.3 inches, it’s 1.1 inches longer than the outgoing X5. The 117.1-inch wheelbase is 1.6 inches more expansive, and the X5 is also an inch taller and 2.6 inches wider. The 2019 X5, which will be sold in all-wheel-drive–only xDrive 40i and xDrive 50i variants, does gain a bit of mass compared to 2018: the base 40i weighs 4,813 pounds (up 78 from before), while the 50i weighs 5,170 pounds (up 75).
On that larger canvas is arguably prettier sheetmetal art. BMW is reverting to some heritage design cues with its new generation of “Sports Activity Vehicles,” giving the X5 a signature kidney grille with a taller profile that recalls the company’s early models. Beveled chrome strips adorn each grille opening, giving the front end a distinctive, technical appearance when combined with the three apertures on the front bumper. Aggressive headlights get BMW’s distinctive “corona rings,” now rendered in an angular, semi-hexagonal shape.
The side profile marks a complete and total departure from Bangle-era BMWs, with a few crisp surface details replacing the somewhat fussy lines of the outgoing X5. The most interesting of these is the character line that originates from the front wheel arch, crossing underneath the front door handle before sweeping upward to directly intersect the rear door handle, then dissipating into the taillight. There are also a few artful creases on the hood, and a light collector traverses the bottom third of the doors to reduce the vehicle’s visual mass and break up the broad swaths of sheetmetal. To our eye, the only styling misstep is the fussy window surround that has a weird double-Hofmeister kink on the rear quarter-window.
Around the back, the 2019 X5 does away with its L-shaped taillamps, getting horizontal units that look a bit like what’s found on the Audi Q5 and Q7 SUVs. However, BMW retained its unique, split-opening cargo door, with a liftgate for small items and drop-down tailgate for easier loading. The sculpted rear end doubles down on the hexagonal motif from up front, with angular character lines surrounding the license plate and adorning the diffuser and skidplate.
Inside, the 2019 X5 takes a lot of inspiration from the new BMW 5-Series and 7-Series sedans. A beveled, freestanding infotainment display is angled slightly toward the driver, and the instrument cluster is available with a full-digital display called BMW Live Cockpit. This 12.3-inch screen replaces conventional instrument dials, offering full-screen displays for navigation, vehicle monitoring systems, and audio, as well as more conventional instrument layouts. Live Cockpit is powered by the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive system, joining forces with the 12.3-inch touchscreen center display and incorporating cloud-based voice control.
Design-wise, there’s lots of ninth-grade geometry going on inside. Hexagons make another appearance on the center stack, and the interior is distinctly asymmetrical and angled toward the driver. Passengers need not worry, however, as the rest of the cabin is done up in electroplated trim, available Vernasca or Merino leathers, and a variety of wood or metallic finishes. Available multicontour seats bring ventilation and massage to the front passengers. An optional third-row seat accommodates carpool emergencies, but don’t expect much stretch-out room—leave the way-back for kids.
The rear bias of the xDrive all-wheel-drive system is set up for on-road agility, and an available electronic differential lock on the rear wheels enhances handling as well. Powered by a small electric motor, the locking diff also improves off-road traction, equalizing torque side-to-side when one wheel is slipping more than the other.
Although no one should confuse the X5 for a Jeep Wrangler, BMW will offer a new Off-Road Package for the first time on any of its SUVs. The pack includes underbody protection, a two-axle air suspension that can provide 1.6 inches of additional ground clearance, the aforementioned rear diff lock, and special graphics and controls inside the X5. A terrain management system allows for sand, rock, gravel, and snow modes, but if the going gets really rough, you’ll want to leave the $60,000 SUV behind.
Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, front collision warning and avoidance, and cross-traffic monitoring. An available Active Driving Assistant Professional package offers full-speed dynamic cruise control, which should take a lot of the fatigue out of bumper-to-bumper traffic. The system also offers Automatic Lane Change, which assists the driver in actually steering into a new lane as long as it is clear and there aren’t any vehicles approaching quickly from behind. Lane Keeping Assistant keeps the X5 centered in its lane and prevents blind-spot accidents.
For 2019, BMW has thoughtfully updated the X5 with sleek new styling inside and out, all-new technologies, and refined and optimized powertrains that maximize response and efficiency. The company hasn’t released pricing or availability information, and there’s no word as to why the vehicle in BMW-supplied photos is a diesel-suggestive xDrive 30d model, but we do expect the 2019 X5 to be available in oil-burning and plug-in hybrid configurations. There's also no word on the potential of a version from BMW's M division. We’ll just have to wait for that information to come out in the next few months.