They call it “The Boss.” In November BMW will start selling the newly designed 2019 BMW X5, the fourth generation of a crossover that dates back to 1999 and fueled BMW’s entry into the now-booming SUV segment.
Although you’d have to squint to see design changes (the LED headlights are separated by a larger grille, and there’s a 3-D look to the taillights, for example), the dramatic changes are underneath the skin. The new X5 is 1.1 inches longer (194.3 inches); it rides on a 117.1-inch wheelbase, which grew 1.6 inches; and it’s 2.6 inches wider and slightly lower. Curb weight is roughly the same.
The big news is that the X5 moves to the CLAR architecture for a better ride and more tech. It joins the 7 Series, X3, X4, and new X7; the X6 will also migrate over to CLAR.
At launch, the U.S. gets the xDrive40i with a 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6 (335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque) and the xDrive50i with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 (456 hp and 479 lb-ft). Both have an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. For Europe there are two 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6s; one will come to the U.S. next year as the xDrive35d.
A plug-in hybrid will be added for the 2020 model year with a battery pack under the seats to avoid impinging on cargo space. A rear-drive X5 could come as soon as the second model year, and timing for a four-cylinder engine is still being determined. An X5 M is a few years away.
The chassis has a double-A-arm front axle and five-link rear. Base and sport suspensions are steel. There will be an optional air suspension (on both axles now), with automatic self-leveling. Dynamic Damper Control is standard, and there are two performance settings: one for a comfort ride and one for a sportier drive.
The X5 will offer rear steering, remote engine start, hill-ascent and -descent control, and a factory hitch for towing. Adaptive LED headlights are standard, and laser lights are an option.
Safety features will largely mimic those on the 5 Series and X7. The X5 will be the first to introduce an optional camera to monitor the driver’s eye movements for signs of fatigue or dropping down to text—although this feature might not be initially available in the U.S.
Autonomous driving tech allows for an optional Driving Assistant Professional package with Traffic Jam Assistant coming at the end of the year. This will give the driver 7 seconds of hands-free driving at higher speeds and 30 seconds at speeds up to about 10 mph. The X5 can also perform lane changes and evasive maneuvers autonomously when necessary. And it can back up and park the car for you.
Upscale interior touches include a Swarovski crystal shifter and crystals in the 7.0 iDrive controller dial. Two 12.3-inch screens are standard, the cabin is filled with ambient and contour lights, you can cool your beverage in the cupholders, and there’s an optional panoramic roof with lights imbedded into the glass to look like stars. Heated seats are standard, and you can pay extra for ventilated, massaging front seats. Rear-seat entertainment and an optional high-end Bowers & Wilkins audio system will not be available until December.
There are two ways to open the tailgate: as a single unit or top and bottom separately. A slick cargo cover rolls back automatically; push a button to fold the rear seats, and the cargo cover disappears into the floor between the second and third rows. It’s seriously sweet. Carpet in the cargo area has rubber anti-slip extenders to keep packages from sliding, plus there are hidden storage compartments.
Even though BMW is adding a new nameplate to its lineup (the full-size seven-passenger X7), the smaller X5 will continue to offer an optional third row. It will not be available until the end of the year.
M Sport models have more body color panels and matte aluminum kidney grille bars; the roof rails and side window surrounds are in a high-gloss black. Standard wheels are 19 inches, with 21- and, for the first time, 22-inch wheels available as an option. It has an M Sport steering wheel, sport pedals, and some unique aluminum trim.
For the first time, an Off-Road package will be available on all model variants. This will feature air suspension, underbody protection, and an electronic rear differential lock.
The X5 will go into production in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in August.
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