BMW’s mid-size SUV has been around since the turn of the century and has evolved from a vehicle that put sporty driving first to one that balances power, refinement, and luxury with better-than-average road manners. All-new in 2019, the X5 lineup now includes three models of escalating price and performance. The BMW X5 competes against class stalwarts such as the Audi Q7. and the Mercedes-GLE-Class. It evokes the brand’s well-known sporting heritage with its muscular and refined turbocharged inline-six and V-8 engines, eye-opening acceleration, and impressive cornering grip. But X5s also can be outfitted luxuriously, with richly appointed interiors, comprehensive infotainment systems, and all of the latest driver-assist technologies. Conservatively styled and beautifully crafted, the X5 line is a front-runner in the premium SUV class.
What’s New for 2020?
This year, the big change to the X5 lineup can be summed up in three words: even more performance. BMW has added a fourth member to the stable, the M50i, which pummels the asphalt with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8—up 67 horsepower and 74 lb-ft from the xDrive50i’s similar 4.4-liter V-8. The M50i package includes a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, an M Sport exhaust, bigger brakes, and sportier suspension tuning with adaptive dampers. The X5 40i models are available in both sDrive (rear-drive) and xDrive (all-wheel drive) configurations. The V-8 models come standard with all-wheel drive and receive wireless phone-charging capability and a Wi-Fi hotspot standard. BMW says that a six-cylinder, plug-in-hybrid version of the X5 “is expected in 2020.”
We love saving money almost as much as we love the great performance, and that’s why we think the xDrive40i is the X5 to buy. With a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds, it’s got sports-sedan acceleration, comes with all-wheel drive and is a relative bargain in this price class. We’d recommend adding the $600 front-and-rear heated-seat option (it includes a heated steering wheel) and the $2300 Premium package for its head-up display, four-zone automatic climate control, SiriusXM satellite radio (includes a one-year subscription), remote engine start capability, wireless phone charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance :
For 2020 there are now three gasoline engines, each associated with a different X5 model. Those X5s wearing the sDrive40i or xDrive40i badge are powered by a 335-hp turbocharged inline-six. The xDrive50i comes with a gutsy 456-hp twin-turbocharged V-8. It’s possible that the M50i’s 523-hp twin-turbo V-8 will enable it to rush to 60 mph in less than four seconds; we’ll know as soon as we test it. All three engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and none of them will leave drivers wanting power in virtually any driving situation. BMW has said a plug-in hybrid X5 is also in the works and should appear sometime in 2020.
The X5’s refined ride and stable handling are a big improvement compared with the previous-generation model, as is its steering, which feels more connected and direct but still not exactly what we’d consider to be sporting. The Q7 still has the X5 beat in this area, but it’s a close match. Pitch the X5 into a fast corner, and it holds on reliably and rewards the driver with predictability that’s missing on the GLE-class. And if you need to tow, know that the X5’s maximum towing capacity is a stout 7200 pounds no matter which engine it has.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG :
With the inline-six, the X5 is as fuel-efficient as the four-cylinder-powered version of the GLE-class and a tad more fuel-stingy than the four-cylinder Q7, according to the EPA. With the V-8s, its EPA ratings drop dramatically but still match the supercharged V-6 variant of the Land Rover Discovery. However, during our real-world highway fuel-economy testing, both the 40i and 50i outperformed their highway ratings: The 40i delivered 28 mpg and the 50i managed 23 mpg, the latter matching the GLE450’s result despite the BMW having two extra cylinders and 127 more horsepower.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo:_________________________
Interior space is generous for adults in both the first and second row, but the X5’s optional third row is for kids only. Once settled inside, occupants are treated to a cabin lined with high-quality materials, plenty of charging points for devices, and—depending on the options chosen—a myriad of luxury features. Power-adjustable front seats with memory for the driver are standard. All models come with a power-adjustable steering column, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power rear liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and customizable ambient lighting. Massaging seats, remote start, soft-close doors, acoustic glass, a leather dashboard, and heated front armrests and the steering wheel can make the X5 feel like a high-end luxury SUV but add a lot of dough to the bottom line.
The X5 offers plentiful cargo space. With the rear seats in use, we managed to fit 11 of our carry-on suitcases behind the second row of seats. With the rear seats folded—an operation that can be done from either the side or the rear of the SUV—we found room for 26 cases. The Mercedes GLE matched the X5’s result in this test, case for case, but its rear seats aren’t as easy to stow.
Infotainment and Connectivity:
Twin 12.3-inch displays add a contemporary look to the otherwise restrained cockpit. One serves as a digital gauge display—a feature that’s becoming increasingly common among luxury automakers—and the other provides access to the infotainment system, which runs the latest version of BMW’s iDrive software. Users can control the system using a variety of methods, including gesture controls, which are less intuitive than just touching the screen or using the center-console-mounted rotary knob. Apple CarPlay capability is standard but Android Auto is, unfortunately, missing from the options sheet.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features:
The 2019 BMW X5 earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest honor—Top Safety Pick+ —but only earned four stars v\from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. BMW offers basic driver assistance features, as standard, including automated emergency braking, but more advanced features such as a semi-autonomous driving mode are optional. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
Standard lane-departure warning
Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert