Road Test: 2019 BMW X5 50i xDrive

The Ultimate Driving Machine slogan has evolved through the years, with BMW vehicles offering more tech and performance than ever before. The new X5 pushes that envelope with luxury, safety technologies, and performance that we’ve come to expect in such a grand SUV.

Since its introduction almost 20 years ago, the BMW X5 has been built exclusively in Spartanburg, SC, and exported to other parts of the world. The tradition continues of course, and we had the opportunity to sample the latest iteration with the incredible V8 engine and M package.

The X5 is all about fast, yet familiar luxury. It remains a BMW in every respect, with the basic DNA of solidity and quality everywhere the human touch interacts. With all the new tech it can be a bit of sensory overload, but after a week with the latest X5, we were able to adapt quickly.

The 2019 BMW X5 has a muscular look, retaining the hallmark proportions of the previous generation, with a sculpted hood and short front overhang, lightly hexagonal wheel arches and the dynamic sweep of the roofline.

The BMW kidney grille and BMW Laserlights featuring blue x-shaped elements, make a distinctive visual statement.

The character line in the X5’s flanks rise up at the rear door, contributing to the modern appearance and defining the powerful shoulders of the X5, feeding into the rear lights, which extend well into the flanks. All lights are now LED.

Our M Sport model sees the wheel arch trim, bumper trim, rear underbody protection and side skirts painted in body color and complimented by matte aluminum kidney grille bars, and roof rails and side window surrounds in high-gloss black.

Beautiful 21″ Y-spoke wheels shown in the photos below are included in the M package.

Typical BMW modern, quality, and luxury fills the cabin. Every surface and component that the driver and passengers interact with feels and looks supreme. The seating position is elevated for a commanding view of the road, and the dashboard controls are angled in such a way to give the driver priority in interaction with all the vehicle functions.

We quickly became fans of the heated armrests in the door and center console. Whomever came up with the ingenious idea deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for those of us with always cold extremities.

The heated M-specific steering wheel also gets mighty toasty, and the look of the pedals, driver’s footrest and piping on the seats screams performance.

Driver and passengers have total control over the air in their zone thanks to a four-zone HVAC system. The OLED temperature display up front looks modern and elegant.

The panoramic glass roof is 30% larger than the last X5, letting in plenty of light during the day and stars at night. Speaking of night, the X5 welcomes everyone inside with a “Welcome Light Carpet” the projects down onto the pavement.

Little details like the ambient lighting in the doors pulsating if a door is open while the engine is running, or flashing lighting in the dash to alert of an incoming phone call are the details that set the X5 apart from others.

Our X5 featured the newly available glass controls to the transmission selector lever, the iDrive Controller, the start/stop button and the volume control button for the audio system. It’s exclusive, looks elegant, and feels substantial.

Seat comfort up front is perfect thanks to a multitude of adjustments and bolster inflations. The best being activating the Sport driving mode and feeling the side bolsters hug you a bit tighter for spirited driving.

The rear seat is commendable for short trips and offers plenty of legroom; passengers in the rear found the bench on the firm side.

Cargo room is massive given the X5’s footprint. We love the two-section tailgate which makes loading and unloading everything much easier. Even cooler and more helpful is that both sections can be opened and closed automatically and hands-free!

BMW Live Cockpit Professional uses the latest iDrive setup with a 12.3″ display behind the steering wheel and a 12.3” display atop the center console. The system offers haptic controls on the iDrive controller, a tablet-like touch interface, stunning visualizations, and the largest displays in a BMW yet. The multitude of inputs from the iDrive controller, touchscreen, cloud based voice control, and gesture control allow anyone to interact however they want with the infotainment.

BMW Connected is the companion app for the X5. It works on iPhone, Apple Watch, smartphones and smartwatches running the Android operating system, Alexa-compatible smart devices and Google Home.

For instance, the BMW Connected app can import appointments and addresses from your calendar entries straight into the navigation system to begin route guidance. The system calculates the optimum departure time based on real-time traffic information and notifies the driver with a message on their smartphone when it is time to leave. As the vehicle is linked up via the Open Mobility Cloud, it is able to access the calculated route directly when the navigation system starts up.

BMW also keeps the X5 updated with the latest software using your smartphone via the BMW Connected app when connected to a Wi-Fi network.

The standard BMW audio system is wonderful, and wireless Apple CarPlay works perfectly. An angled wireless charging pad fits large phones and keeps them secure, while multiple USB-A and USB-C charging ports fill the cabin for everyone’s devices.

The 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i features an incredible TwinPower Turbo V8 engine that channels power through an 8-speed transmission. BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive is standard and always routes power in the best way possible.

Fundamentally upgraded from crankcase to engine management, the engine serves up an intoxicating blend of tremendous power delivery and signature V8 sound. The turbochargers’ positioning in the “V” between the banks of cylinders is just one of the standout features of the 4.4-liter unit. A new ignition system allows the engine to be restarted even more smoothly and swiftly when the Auto Start Stop function is activate.

The engine’s peak torque of 479 lb-ft is available over a broad rev range from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm, while its maximum output of 456 hp is on tap between 5,250 and 6,000 rpm. Power is available early and doesn’t let up, resulting in a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.6 seconds.

The xDrive system is calibrated to offer rear-biased power for times when it senses the driver in a sporty kind of mood; it gives the handling an even sportier edge.

The standard Dynamic Damper Control system can sharpen the X5’s handling at the same time as increasing ride and suspension comfort. The Driving Experience Control switch on the center console controls the drive modes.

Active safety tech is where the last X5 was a bit behind, but they clearly made up for it now. BMW Personal CoPilot process camera images and data acquired by radar sensors better than most vehicles we test, picking up lines, road edges, and vehicles in situations that others almost always fail.

The Active Driving Assistant Professional package works flawlessly at making long drivers or daily commutes much easier, and less stressful. It works beautifully in traffic jams.

The head-up display projects everything from assisted driving status to posted speed limit info, in a crisp and clear manner. Changing speed limits can also used by the adaptive cruise system to match the X5’s speed so that speeding tickets are a thing of the past!

Parking is also a breeze thanks to a number of sensors and software, automating everything from parallel parking to backing out of a long driveway. The X5 actually memorizes how it last got parked, and reverses that sequence for backing out hands-free.

The BMW app lets the X5 owner see a 360-degree view of the X5 when its parked; very cool and intelligent use of tech.

Being that BMW is often on the leading edge of tech also means assist systems like Emergency Stop Assistant can save live in situations where the driver is suddenly incapacitated because of a medical emergency. All the driver does is pull the electric parking brake switch and depending on the driving situation and surroundings, the Emergency Stop Assistant will bring the X5 to a standstill either in the current lane, at the edge of the road or on the hard shoulder. The hazard lights are turned on and BMW Assist is called.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy9
Interior Fit and Finish10
Gauges and Controls9
Total Score95

Make: BMW
Model: X5
Trim Level: 50i
Engine: 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: Tanzanite Blue Metallic, Driving Assist Pkg, Parking Assist Pkg, Premium Pkg, Front & Rear Heated Seats, Glass Controls, Heated Armrests and Steering Wheel, Adaptive Headlights with Laserlight, Leather dashboard

Base Price: $82,150
As-Tested Price: $92,795

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