BMW X5 2019
More than 2.2 million worldwide sales later and we now have this fourth-generation X5 boasting even better luxury and performance as well as improved off-road ability.
But this new X5 arrives into a very different market for BMW. After all, the smaller X3 is now actually bigger than that first-generation X5, while the even larger X7 will go on sale next spring.
So it’s little surprise that this new X5 is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, to remain positioned between the X3 and forthcoming X7.
The over-sized grille isn’t to everyone’s tastes, although we don’t mind it too much, although the rear end looks a little anaemic to our eyes with its narrow lights not entirely unlike the old Jeep Grand Cherokee.
That changing market is obvious under the bonnet too. Although BMW anticipates that two-thirds of X5 sales will be the 30d with its 265bhp 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, the 3.0-litre turbo-petrol (badged as the 40i) will take a quarter of sales, something that would have been unthinkable until recently.
The remainder of sales will be taken by the flagship 400bhp 50d model, although summer 2019 will see the range expanded with 40d diesel and 50i petrol models together with, crucially, a plug-in hybrid.
Against the stopwatch, the 30d is hardly a short straw though with a 0 to 60mph time of 6.5 seconds and a 143mph top speed while at the pumps it returns a 47.1mpg average with 158g/km emissions.
The 3.0-litre petrol is a significant step forward taking just 5.5 seconds for the 0 to 60mph sprint although the claimed 33.2mpg average fuel economy might be hard to recreate in the real world if you use any of that performance.
BMW X5 2019
On the road, the X5’s refinement levels are nothing short of superb. The ride quality, even on the larger optional 21in wheels is excellent and there’s only a small amount of tyre and wind noise at motorway speeds.
The engine is quiet, even at higher revs when driving harder and while you’re never less than aware of the new X5’s larger dimensions and weight, it handles it relatively well.
Even when encountering difficult, off-camber rises halfway through a bend, the X5’s extra weight is obvious but it quickly settles down and there’s no further deflection on the air suspension that can befall some cars.
That said, despite pretty good handling and a lack of body roll through bends, this fourth-generation X5 has lost some of its sharpness in favour of a more mature and comfortable feel.
BMW X5 2019
The steering is accurate enough, but it could do with more consistency in its weighting as well as more feel about what the car is doing beneath you. It not that it’s especially bad, but it’s just that it’s not the sportier choice that it once was.
Ironically, at the same time, the X5 has definitely improved when it comes to its off-road abilities. Fair enough, not many owners are likely to push the big BMW to its limits in this department, but its new optional off-road pack with different driving modes is notably better than before.
It might not be enough to worry the likes of the Land Rover Discovery, but for those towing horse boxes or caravans across muddy fields, it’s a noticeable step-change.
That loss of on-road sportiness isn’t helped by the driving position either which, while comfortable, never feels quite low enough even in its lowest setting.
BMW X5 2019
That’s the only demerit though in what is an otherwise exceptional interior, from its build quality to the materials used, it’s hard to fault. Aesthetically though, there are a few hits and misses.
We love the metal knurling on some of the controls including the rotary iDrive controller and the mirrored finish on top of the controller is smart, but the multi-faceted Swarovski crystal gear selector looks way too ostentatious for our tastes.
Plus, we’re still not convinced about the gesture control system (as also seen on the 5 and 7-Series), as it’s far too easy to set off if moving your hands while talking in the cabin. We love the heated and cooled cupholders though.
Flooding the cabin with light is the new panaromic glass roof which is now 30 per cent larger than before and there’s an option for 15,000 lights within the glass to give it a night sky effect like the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
BMW X5 2019
The middle row of seats can slide and recline electrically and have plenty of head and legroom; that’s just as well given that the third row pair of seats (a £1390 option chosen by around half of all buyers) are otherwise strictly for teenagers or younger.
There’s a decent sized boot too at 645 litres (1860 with the rear seats down) which is also accessed by an electric split tailgate. BMW’s engineers said they kept this split tailgate as a direct result of positive feedback from buyers (it can also take the weight of three people) – an interesting fact when Land Rover dropped this layout for the current Discovery.
The new X5 is arguably now more well-rounded than ever, but then it needs to be in a market now packed with talent.
With a new Mercedes GLE on the way, plus the latest Lexus RX450L and the talented Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery, there’s not really a short straw anywhere in the class.
Just as well then that this is probably the best X5 ever and, 19 years on from that game-changing original, it remains one of the best choices in this class.
BMW X5 2019
Model: BMW X5
Price range: £57,495-£71,475
Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 3.0-litre; Turbo-diesel – 3.0, 3.0-litre 400bhp
Power: 0 to 60mph in 5.2 seconds, 155mph top speed (3.0 400bhp)
Average fuel economy: 47.1mpg (3.0TD)
CO2 emissions range: 158-193g/km
Rivals: Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes GLE, Volvo XC90