Driven: 2019 BMW X5 Review
  • Car Review

Driven: 2019 BMW X5 Review

By David Undercoffler | October 26, 2018

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $61,695 - $76,745, before options but including destination

Key takeaways

  • All-new, fourth generation of X5 launched for 2019.
  • One of the most balanced luxury crossovers in its segment; it does everything well.
  • Visually it’s not much different than the previous X5.
  • Even base models are expensive and the prices only go up from there.

What is it?

The X5 is BMW’s midsize luxury crossover SUV. As its number denotes, it’s larger than the X1, X2, X3 and X4 but smaller than the X6 and X7.

This 2019 model is the first reincarnation of the X5 in a new generation -- BMW refers to this version internally as the G05. It’s the fourth generation of the X5; the model was first launched in 1999.

This 2019 X5 competes against a big group of competitive models, including the Mercedes GLE, Acura MDX, Lexus RX and GX, Infiniti QX60, Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90, Jaguar F-Pace, Lincoln Nautilus, Maserati Levante and Audi Q7.

The X5 is generally a five-seater though you can add optional (and small) third-row seats for a total of seven passengers.

For 2019, the X5 has two gas powertrains (a plug-in hybrid model is due in the U.S. in 2020).

The base X5 -- if you can call it that -- is the xDrive40i. It comes standard with all-wheel-drive (hence the xDrive in the name -- sDrive is what BMW calls its front-wheel-drive crossovers). The 40i means it has a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that makes 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.

The more spendy, powerful version is the xDrive50i. It has a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 that makes 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

Both versions have an eight-speed automatic transmission with Sport and Manual modes.

The plug-in hybrid model will be the xDrive45e. It will use a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine and an electric motor for a total of 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. BMW hasn’t announced this model’s all-electric range yet but it’s expected to be around 40 miles.

A diesel version of this X5 may also join the lineup in the U.S. at a later date.

What’s good

TLDR: Does it all well, even off-roading plus heaps of refinement

  • Well-rounded. This 2019 X5 is now at the top of the luxury SUV heap because it does everything well: it’s stylish (if conservative), fun to drive, comfortable, practical, safe, luxurious...the list goes on. Yes, it has its minor downsides (see below) but overall this is one of the most balanced SUVs in its segment.

  • Off-road chops. While we understand precisely zero X5 buyers plan on taking their $66,000-$90,000 machine off-road, we had the chance to just that and we came away impressed. On slick street-oriented tires (and with help from the X5’s $3,950 Off-road package) this BMW was able to crawl up and down some dauntingly rugged trails outside Atlanta, GA. Who knew?

  • Serene cabin. Even at top freeway speeds or when the inline six of our tester was humming, riding in the X5 was a calm, refined experience. Yes, BMW built its reputation on sporting vehicles, but this X5 also blends in a high degree of composure.

What’s bad

TLDR: Expensive, exterior barely looks new, lane-keep assist is terrible

  • Tepid redesign. Yes, this 2019 X5 looks contemporary and stylish. But if you park it next to the outgoing generation, it’s hard to tell the difference from the front or the side -- the back has a new taillight design. Overall, this X5 looks merely like a mild evolution rather than the kind of comprehensive update that lets your neighbors know you have ‘the new one.’

  • Awful lane-keep assist system. Good thing it’s free -- this is one of the worst systems we’ve ever tested. It ping-ponged our test vehicle from one side of our lane to the next incessantly. Owners will use this system precisely once.

  • Not cheap. You’ve heard us say this already but have we mentioned this X5 costs money? It does, and that’s before you start adding any options. The good news? A base xDrive40i needs no additional options to make you feel pampered.

5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • BMW includes a wide array of standard active safety features on this X5 -- rather than making them optional like a surprising number of its luxury counterparts.
  • These features include pre-collision warning and braking with pedestrian detection lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
  • Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 2019 X5 at the time of publication, though we would expect it will get high marks from each outfit.

Value? NO

  • No one buys a luxury vehicle like a BMW for its value. Still, this X5 ain’t cheap. The base six-cylinder xDrive40i version starts at around $61,000 and options quickly ratchet up that price from there; our well-optioned test model ballooned to $82,000.
  • The eight-cylinder xDrive50i starts at just under $77,000; adding the same options that were on our test model would push that to an eye-watering $91,000.

Efficiency? YES

  • The 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i is rated at 20/26/22 MPG city/highway/combined. That's better than many of its luxury gas (non-hybrid) competitors.
  • If the plug-in hybrid version does indeed hit 40 miles of electric-only range in the U.S. that would be an impressive figure relative to other PHEV competitors like the Volvo XC90 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e.

Driving experience? YES

  • As we’ve mentioned, this new X5 is an excellent drive on- and off-road. The inline six-cylinder engine we tested had enough power though it wasn’t an overwhelming amount (that’s what the V8 version is for).
  • On-road it was smooth, refined, quiet with assertive acceleration and responsive brakes.
  • Off-road it handled with ease a slick dirt trail with very steep ascents and descents.

Execution? YES

  • BMW did an excellent job with this X5 in blending together all of the elements luxury SUV buyers are looking for.
  • This X5 offers responsive on-road handling, impressive (but likely unnecessary) off-road abilities, a long list of standard features, essential safety features and high degrees of comfort, refinement, style and practicality.

Total Rating: 4 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

As we mentioned, the X5 is going to cost you a lot.

The xDrive40i starts at $61,695 -- though it does come with a host of luxury amenities.

Standard equipment includes all-wheel-drive, the 335-horsepower, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, four drive modes, an adaptive suspension system, 19-inch alloy wheels, a suite of active safety features (pre-collision warning and braking with pedestrian detection lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert), remote-software update capability, panoramic moonroof, parking sensors, power tailgate, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, 10-speaker sound system and faux-leather seats.

The more powerful xDrive50i starts at $76,745. It adds the 456-horsepower, turbocharged V8, 20-way power seats, leather seating surfaces, a 16-speaker sound system and various exterior trim upgrades.

From there, buyers of either engine can add all kinds of options including soft-close doors, a fancy air suspension, an off-road package, massaging seats and gesture control (which lets you do things like twirl your finger in front of the dashboard to turn up the volume).

If it were our money on the line we’d opt for the base X5 xDrive40i and be done with it; this model -- while certainly pricey -- gives you all the luxury and style you really want or need without adding on frivolous extras.

Also consider

  • The X5 is in a brutally competitive segment of elite vehicles so the lucky shoppers for these crossovers have plenty of excellent choices. However, none are currently good enough to make us choose them over this new X5 -- except maybe...

  • The Audi Q7. It remains one of our favorite models in this segment and it offers a lower price point and more interior space than the X5. But it’s less fun to drive than the BMW.

  • The Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 are both excellent alternatives to the X5, particularly for families looking for functional luxury. However there are concerns about the long-term reliability of both of these models.

  • We also like the driving dynamics of the Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Velar, but not enough to make us choose them over the X5.

  • For the 2019 model year, we’d skip the Mercedes GLE; an all-new generation is due in 2019 as a 2020 model so this outgoing generation is pretty outdated.

  • We’d also skip the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60 and Lexus GX for the same reason; they’re all getting outdated at this point and new generations are due soon.