2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i review

Sport and luxury in equilibrium


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: More refined driving experience, styling breaks from the past but remains recognizable, excellent power even in the base model, truly beautiful inside, best iDrive system ever.
Negatives: Expensive with options, not as roomy as some of the competition.
Bottom Line: The new X5 isn't just a bigger X3 but truly a step above its smaller (but still excellent) brother. Even in the lower trim, it's quick, easy to toss for something so heavy, and now it has an interior and tech that's worthy of the model. It's one of our favorite premium SUVs this year.
Believe it or not, the BMW X5 was one of the first premium SUVs on the market, following closely in the footstep of the Mercedes-Benz M Class (now GLE). The fifth-generation X5 marks twenty years of the X5 starting in the 2019 model year, and though it still looks like an X5, differences in how the car looks, drives, and operates inside have changed tremendously. And it's about time since the last-gen X5 lasted from 2013 to 2018, and competition is fierce from the likes of Audi (Q7), Volvo (XC90), and Land Rover (Range Rover Sport), not to mention the Merc GLE. We drove the base trim xDrive40i for a week to see how much the model has improved. Read ahead for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

9.6

 

BMW called the X5 an SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) since its inception, and that label is true in the new X5. It feels composed, quick, and balanced in situations most SUVs start to fall apart or won't even touch. Even without the optional Dynamic Handling Package, our tester was superb in just about every way. You don't need to spend money for the bigger engine to get thrills, either.

Ride Quality: The X5 tester we had came with the optional 2-axle air suspension. Coupled with the drive modes, it felt both compliant and properly firm whatever the situation called for.

Acceleration: The turbo inline-six is smooth and powerful. 0-60 comes in a rather astounding 5 seconds flat, and this isn't even the one with the turbocharged V8. The 8-speed transmission is great, and manual shifts are also quick. Power always feels linear and smooth.

Braking: The X5's optional M Sport brakes are powerful, and pedal feel is progressive.

Steering: Steering is responsive, accurate, and the effort increases progressively in turns. There is a modicum of feedback, but not much.

Handling: The 4,854-lb X5 is a tad heavier than before, but it handles remarkably well. Taking corners fast doesn't present a problem, and the perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight ratio keeps things balanced.

Technology

9.4

 

BMW infotainment and tech used to be a bit frustrating, even in the last X5, but it has gotten better in the 2019 model to the point where we can say we love it. Premium brands tend to do well with looks but not ease of use. The new system is one of the best.

Infotainment System: The two large and vivid 12.3" digital screens are excellent. iDrive 7.0 is superb, far better than the previous version. Not only is it smoother to use and even more visually stunning, it's also more intuitive than before. We think BMW has surpassed Audi in terms of looks and come very close to the same great functionality. It's more responsive than before, too. We just can't get ourselves to use Gesture Control much because it's still not perfect, though it has been improved.

Controls: The balance of on-screen and physical controls is just about perfect, and even the shift knob is easier to grab and operate. Steering wheel buttons are larger and simpler to actuate, and the iDrive controller on the center console is big, knurled for great grip, and toggles and rotates perfectly.

Styling

9

 

The last X5 seemed like it didn't quite pull things off very well, but the new model looks properly evolved with the times. Styling tweaks are dramatic, but the X5 comes across as more than the sum of its parts in terms of its overall look, which we love.

Front: BMW's giant kidney grilles look better on the X5 than they do on the 7-Series sedan. They're also not enormous like the new X7's. The lower half of the front fascia is a little busy, but the overall look is properly aggressive without overdoing it.

Rear: The taillights are now thinner than the 2018 model and differentiate more from the current X3's. There are also noticeable creases under the taillights and a small diffuser in back.

Profile: Tbe side view loses some of its aggressiveness since the body creases aren't as pronounced. It now looks more like a larger version of the current X1 than it does the old X5.

Cabin: It's one of BMW's nicest interiors, especially with the new layout and unique instrumentation. We love the Coffee Vernasca Leather with contrast stitching and perforation. Everything looks and feel upgraded from the last X5.

Comfort

9.2

 

There's been a lot of work done on the inside of the X5, but it remains unmistakably BMW. The front seats are wide and comfortable. The 2019 X5 sees an increase in rear-seat legroom. Even for such a sizable SUV, there's good visibility in most directions, and the standard panoramic sunroof adds an airy feel to the interior.

Front Seats: BMW sport seats are always supportive and well-cushioned, and the X5's are no exception. They leather is soft, the side bolsters are big, and there's a great extendable thigh bolster to spread out the pressure on long drives.

Rear Seats: Rear legroom is good for adults (37.4 inches), and the outboard seats are well-contoured in the seatbacks.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin hushed even at high speeds, and engine is quiet when cruising. It's also solidly built inside with no errant noises.

Visibility: Visibility and seating position are very good. The 360 camera with 3D is superb, too.

Climate: BMW climate systems are typically very powerful. The X5's is also excellent and easy to control.

Safety

8.9

 

The X5 scores very well in crash testing and has a great set of standard and optional safety features. True to BMW form, the X5 is a very safe vehicle families can trust.

IIHS Rating: The new X5 scored the Top Safety Pick+ thanks to excellent crash tests, superior front crash avoidance tech, and good headlights in higher trims.

NHTSA Rating: It scored 4 out of 5 stars in crash testing, getting slightly dinged in front and rollover crashes.

Standard Tech: Park Distance Control front and rear, rearview camera, Active Driving Assistant including Frontal Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection.

Optional Tech: Active Guard Assist, which includes steering and lane control assistance.

Storage/Cargo

8.9

 

The X5 is big and has plenty of storage options. True to the previous X5's convenient horizontally split tailgate, the new one gets the same feature. The small item storage is also very good.

Storage Space: There's a huge cubby in the base of the center stack with a retracing door. It's big enough for your largest smartphone and other small items.

Cargo Room: The back has 33.9 cubic feet of space with the second-row seats in place and 72.3 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat. That easily eclipses the Audi Q7's 14.2 cubes/69.6 cubes. We also love the split tailgate that allows you to fold it down the bottom portion separately.

Fuel Economy

8.7

 

For all its impressive power, the X5 does pretty well with gas mileage, even in Sport Mode. Real world driving habits in ECO PRO mode should easily net the 22 combined figure.

Observed: The xDrive40i test vehicle in mostly local driving was 19.1 mpg.

Distance Driven: 196 miles

Audio

9.6

 

For a mere $875, you get the excellent Harman Kardon premium surround sound system. Not only is it plenty loud, there's no distortion and ample bass and clarity. We really love this system that provides rich sound in the X5. It's totally worth it.



Final Thoughts

We're in love with the new X5. It's one of the best, if not the best, premium SUVs on the market today. Better to drive and more comfortable thant the Q7, there's almost no need to upgrade to the pricier X5 xDrive50i since the twin-turbo six in the xDrive40i is plenty fast. The X5 rides and tracks remarkably well, and we like the interior more than the Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the Lexus GX. $73K might sound like a lot of money, but you get so much for it in the new X5.
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