2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i

BMW’s first SAV has become its best SAV.

Words by: Adam Allen

Um…SAV?

Correct, and that stands for Sports Activity Vehicle, a designation BMW prefers over the apparently too-pedestrian SUV designation. Known as G05 in BMW parlance, this is the 4th generation of the model that first revolutionized the luxury SU…er, SAV scene back in 1999. From that very first X5 to the last of the previous generation,they’ve always been good. The big news right off the bat is that the so-called G05 generation crosses over from good to great.

What makes this X5 great?

There are a variety of answers to the query and we’ll cover all the bases for you. As BMW’s SAV ranks continue to swell, there is excellence is sprinkled throughout beginning with the X1 all the way up to the massive X7 which should be appearing on a street near you as this is written. Now the strong selling X5 gets a turn as the focus of Munich’s love and the results are admirable. It is built on a brand new platform called Cluster Architecture (CLAR) that it shares with the equally new 3 series.  Immediate upgrades begin with the styling, and the X5 has clearly evolved but is still very recognizable to anyone who has owned one throughout the years. BMW calls the nips and tucks “sculptured styling”, but the biggest clues for onlookers are the revised front and rear lighting elements and those with extremely sharp eyes will notice that it has swelled dimensionally as well. Under the skin, the engines and transmission are carry overs but newly available four corner air suspension and Off-Road Package are intriguing additions to the proceedings. Probably the most noteworthy improvements are those that can best be felt when behind the wheel- our tester rode, handled and coddled us better than any X5 before it.

Let’s look inside first…wait, Laser headlights?!?! Is there anything cooler than that? No. No, there is not.

Yeah, it’s got laser headlights. But don’t assume that you’ll be able to vaporize the left lane dawdler holding you up- the only thing they can offer you is excellent nighttime range which, while not as awesome as incinerating stuff, does help illuminate your way through the darkest environs. You will enjoy the prodigious illumination while inside one of the better BMW cockpits we’ve sampled as of late. You’ll likely first notice the newly minted BMW Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system and its dual 12.3” displays. Those who frequent this space know that we quite like BMW’s iDrive and its HD graphics, intuitive controls and obedient nature, but this 7TH generation’s wholesale rethink further advances the breed. The next thing you’re likely to discover is the overall feeling of luxury. The quality of materials and their careful assembly is top drawer stuff and approaches the 7 series in its sumptuousness. We especially dig the knurled detailing on some of the knobs and switches and fawned over the crystal shift knob that BMW dubs Crafted Clarity Glass Controls but we refer to as stunning. Front cupholders will now chill or warm your favorite beveridge and BMW’s Connected Drive continues to act as your onboard smartphone, able to notify you of appointments from your calendar and read your email. Now it can monitor local traffic conditions and will alert you to hit the road so as to avoid crawling along in bumper-to-bumper congestion. A third row of seating is optional, but we’d advise to skip it as they are only useful for the smallest humans- if copious space is high on your priority list, you’d be better served by the X7.

Just scanning the spec sheet here…no Off-Road Package, huh?

Sadly, our tester was not so equipped, but even if it was, we wouldn’t want to risk mucking up the flawless Black Sapphire Metallic paint and the handsome wheels to match. Some of our colleagues have had the chance to flog the new X5 off-road and report back that it more than holds its own. Since 99.99% of X5 owners will commute strictly on tarmac, we thought it would be more appropriate to focus on how it fares in that context. Though an SAV it may be, it does a convincing impersonation of a luxury car. It is extremely hushed no matter the speed you find yourself travelling at, and the air suspension delivers a ride so extravagant that we declared it the best example with the technology there is today- apologies to Range Rover, but BMW has really knocked the ride quality out of the park. It doesn’t list or wallow and handles adroitly, but you’re not gonna want to fling it around by the scruff of its neck. The brakes are fantastic and offer good feel and the 8-speed automatic is so good that it reminds us of the M5’s transmission excellence we were exposed to last summer. BMW is a company that has always been proficient at building engines, and the 4.4 litre twice turbocharged V8- yes, a very close relative the potent mill found in the M5- is an absolute sweetheart, both in output and with the sound it makes. Working in tandem with the gearbox, it’s truly remarkable how BMW has managed to completely eliminate driveline snatch, even if you abruptly jump in and out of the throttle in a lower gear. In all honesty, you’d be well served by the base engine, BMW’s always lovely inline six and on paper, it doesn’t give up all that much to the V8. Understand that even a short test drive will have you smitten by the upgraded engine. You really can’t go wrong with either one.

What might go wrong?

We had to don our pedantic hats to comb the X5 for stuff that rubbed us the wrong way. Our focus began out back in the cargo area- it’s smaller than we’d like but the rear seats fold flat for those times where you abandon all restraint at Costco. Next, we hemmed and hawed at the tachometer- we couldn’t quite wrap our heads around the crisply rendered digital needles that swing counter clockwise in their arc. Lastly, there was another gauge that troubled us slightly, specifically the one that gives you your fuel readout. That needle dropped precipitously throughout our Road Test, although that is wholly our fault for digging deep into the V8’s power reserves, a practice that might not have been popular with our wallets but was totally worth it.

Should I buy BMW’s new X5?

Yes, you should. Because it’s likely you’ve got the X5’s competitors in your sights; the Audi Q7, Mercedes Benz GLE and Range Rover Sport will no doubt be on our shopping list. The thing is though, the X5 is better than all of them. We used to never waiver that were we of the means to put one of these high end trucks in our driveway it would have to be the Range Rover Sport. After driving the X5- whose creamy air suspension vastly outshines the Sport’s and whose V8 is superior in terms of speed and smooth, we began to feel like BMW is really getting serious about keeping the flame of its core values burning bright. As with the M5 and M3 CS we drove earlier this year, you can feel a sort of intangible specialness when you spend even a short time behind the wheel. Although the new X5 is never going to be mentioned in the same breathless tones as those high performance pillars, it does capture that unquantifiable feeling that makes you relish each journey.

2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i SAV – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $102,700
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  4.4-litre V8 twin turbo, DOHC, 32 valves
  • Horsepower: 456 @ 5,250 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft): 479 @ 1,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 2,345 kg (5,170 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 16.2L/100km (14 mpg)