2019 BMW X5 – Is it still the best SUV

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By Nauman Farooq

The very first BMW X5 showed up in 1999, and it was the first SUV on the market that was actually sporty to drive.

Thanks to its car like ride and handling, it won many people over, and soon, other car companies started offering their derivative of the X5.

Now, the marketplace is filled with SUVs that perform like sports and luxury cars; but how is BMW doing in this segment that it started?

Well, for 2019, there is a new, fourth-generation model available of the X5, and I recently spent some time driving one, to see how it is!

Styling: In the styling department, the X5 has been slowly evolving, rather than showing a complete new design – since the second-generation model, which showed up in 2006.

While I’m not bowled over by the way it looks, I will say that it is quite a handsome SUV, and that the updates look good – such as the slimmer headlights against a taller grille, and the redesigned tail lamps. While I would have preferred a far more radical design that shared nothing with the previous generation models, I guess BMW didn’t want to mess with what has been a popular seller for them.

Interior: Step inside, and now the real differences begin. The cabin looks very different from the previous model, and for the better. Everything not only sits where it should ergonomically, but the fit and finish is on a new level – and trust me, it’s not like the gen-three X5 was a bad place to be in.

From the driver’s seat, the instrument binnacle is the same as you get in the new 8 Series, you get a larger infotainment screen, the iDrive controller and its menus have changed (which requires some relearning to figure out this system). Sitting in the driver’s seat, and looking around at the dashboard, the center console, and the trimming on the doors and seats, and you’ll just feel better because the atmosphere in the cabin is that much better. The 2019 X5 feels like it is in a higher class category than before, and really is closing in on the link between BMW and its corporate cousin Rolls-Royce.

As you’d imagine, there is plenty of room in the front seats for people of any size, but even the rear seat passengers have plenty of space. Open the split folding tailgate and you’ll find plenty of space for your groceries and luggage, and my tester had a cool optional extra in the luggage area – and a feature I’d never seen before on any production vehicle – which was a luggage cover that automatically covers your goods when the trunk is closed, and can also completely disappear under the floor if you need extra space; you really have to see this feature in action to appreciate what it does.

In short, the interior of the new X5 is simply, superb!

Powertrain: Currently, the new X5 is available with a choice of two engines, a turbocharged inline-six cylinder (xDrive40i) and a twin-turbo V8 (xDrive50i) – we’ll be looking at the former in this article, because that’s the engine I tested.

The six-cylinder motor displaces 3.0L and produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to all wheels via an eight speed automatic gearbox which is smooth and soft when you want it to be, and hard and quick when you demand performance!

Performance: Speaking of performance, the 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds, and will top out at over 200 km/h – you seriously don’t need to transport your family any faster than this, not in Canada at least!

Driving Dynamics: The reason the previous generations of the X5 were so popular, was because of their road manners. While most vehicles in this category would feel top heavy and floaty at highway speeds, the X5 felt stable and confidence inspiring, which made progress on the road very reassuring, even when the weather has not been the nicest!

This latest X5 (platform designation: G05) is easily the best X5 I have ever driven. The first and second generation X5 models felt too stiff and heavy, with the third generation model showing huge improvements towards agility. The 2019 X5 is the most agile yet, with a beautifully weighted steering, that helps you carve out back roads, but then offers plenty of weight at high speeds – it becomes clear very quickly why BMW prefers to call their SUVs as SAVs (Sport Activity Vehicles).

Thanks to its dynamics, the new X5 never feels boring, which makes covering distances a lot more engaging, and that results in you feeling energetic when you arrive at your destination – rather than hitting the bed and just falling asleep!

Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving) the 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i averaged 11.7 l/100 km, which is quite good for a non-hybrid SUV of this size. However, you do need to feed it premium fuel, which means running costs are high, but than, if you can afford this vehicle, running costs would not be a concern!

Pricing: Base price for the 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i is $71,500. Options can certainly take the price far north of that, but trust me, you’d struggle to find a better SUV for under $100,000.

Verdict: Typically, a test vehicle would leave me with a few irks, wishing it was better in one way or another! As far as the new X5 is concerned, I only wish it looked more special than it does, and that’s all! I love the interior, I like the way it goes and handles, and truly feel it represents excellent value for money.

In the last year, my favourite SUV in the $70K-$100K price bracket has been the new Lincoln Navigator – this new X5 dethroned that; yes, it’s that good.

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