by Karl Furlong
BMW and risk-taking are no strangers, and be it in the areas of design or technology, the manufacturer has pushed the envelope so far in recent years that even diehard brand loyalists have been challenged in their allegiance. But beyond all the chaos is the consistently outstanding X5 SUV, now in its fourth generation and the beneficiary of a comprehensive facelift.
The G05-generation X5 has continued on the path set by its predecessors by simply being very good at many things, its smooth powertrains ranking especially highly. Now, the 2024 model has arrived with a range of upgraded electrified engines, a sharper suit, and the company's latest infotainment system. Has BMW made one of the best in the mid-size SUV pack even better? Our first look at the latest X5 seeks to answer that question.
See trim levels and configurations:
With production due to begin in April 2023 at the brand's Spartanburg-based plant in the USA, the release date for the new BMW X5 SUV should follow shortly thereafter. It will be coming out at the same time as the X6, which received most of the same upgrades.
The price of the 2024 BMW X5 starts at $65,200 for the sDrive40i, the only rear-wheel-drive model in the range. That is $3,600 more than the equivalent 2023 model, but admittedly, the changes have been fairly substantial to just about justify that premium. The remainder of the X5 range consists of the xDrive40i at an MSRP of $67,500, the xDrive50e plug-in hybrid (PHEV) which will cost $72,500, and the M60i xDrive at $89,300. All these prices exclude a destination and handling charge of $995.
One of the BMW's main rivals, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, has also been revised for the 2024 model year and it will arrive in showrooms in 2023. The Audi Q7, Genesis GV80, and Porsche Cayenne are other luxury SUVs found in this segment, and all are impressive all-rounders.
The exterior of the latest BMW X5 follows the usual facelift recipe: a tweaked grille here, a restyled headlight there, and a smattering of new colors. In short, this is not a dramatically different design, but few will have any issues with that as the X5 was already a handsome prospect. The changes do, however, give it a slightly more modern appearance.
In front, there are narrowed headlights that have a cleaner look than the clusters that came before. A revised kidney grille with sculpted border surfaces and optional illumination - a first for the X5 - looks imposing but not overdone, and there are different vertical air curtains, a new lower air intake, and new air breathers for the front side panels.
20-inch alloy wheels on all-season runflat tires are standard, but performance runflat tires and 21- or 22-inch wheels are available. The more conservative standard wheel design can be replaced by M or BMW Individual alternatives. Newly styled taillights have a simple design when not lit up, but the new fiber-optic light elements and X motif within the clusters make much more of an impression when illuminated.
The powerful X5 M60i is the only model with a brawny V8, so BMW added a few styling features to make it stand out. That list includes double bars and an M logo for the grille, along with M exterior mirror caps with a black finish and quad-exit tailpipes. This variant is the only one that can be had in the new Marina Bay Blue metallic paint, but other new colors for the BMW X5 range are Blue Ridge Mountain, Brooklyn Grey, Skyscraper Grey, and Frozen Pure Grey. A further 40 BMW Individual special paintwork options are available and applied by hand, but expect to pay more for the privilege of finishing your X5 in one of these shades.
Every X5 model enjoys a panoramic moonroof as standard, while full LED lights and soft-close automatic doors are available. The M60i comes with the M Sport Package as standard, and that includes M Sport brakes with blue calipers and an M Sport exhaust system. M high-gloss Shadowline trim is another element of this package, which can be specified on lesser X5 variants as well. Another option is the M Sport Professional Package with its kidney grille surround in matte black, black chrome for the exhaust tailpipe trim, and darker M Shadowline lights. Here, red or blue calipers are available.
A little taller and with a negligible difference in height, the dimensions of the 2024 BMW X5 aren't different enough from the 2023 version for anyone to notice. The base sDrive40i has length/width/height measurements of 194.2/78.9/69.1 inches respectively, along with a 117.1-inch wheelbase. The xDrive version of this trim is taller at 69.5 inches, and the same applies to the M60i.
There has been a more noticeable increase in curb weight for most X5 models, though, and that is probably a result of the revised engines and electric motors. The sDrive40i now weighs 4,919 pounds, 91 lbs more than the equivalent 2023 model. That rises to 4,998 lbs for the xDrive40i, an increase of 135 lbs. In M60i guise, the X5 weighs 5,355 lbs, 95 lbs more than the older M50i. Finally, the xDrive50e PHEV is the heaviest of all at 5,573 lbs; interestingly, that's 73 lbs lighter than the xDrive45e it will replace.
Every engine in the BMW X5 lineup has received attention in some way, but some of the most impressive gains are found at the lower end of the lineup. In both the rear-wheel-drive sDrive40i and all-wheel-drive xDrive40i models, the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine now makes 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, improvements of 40 hp/51 lb-ft compared to its predecessor.
The latest 48V mild-hybrid system augments the six-cylinder, and sees a small electric motor integrated with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. This motor adds a boost of 12 hp and 147 lb-ft, and can raise peak torque to as much as 398 lb-ft. Not only does it ensure that the automatic stop/start system works more smoothly, but it helps the X5 to attain a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds for the sDrive40i and 5.2 seconds for the xDrive40i.
In the X5 M60i xDrive, a new 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 comes with its own 48V mild-hybrid system, along with enhancements like a reinforced crankshaft drive and a new oil pump. Outputs are 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. While that's a lot, these are the same specs as for the older M50i. Still, the M60i will hit 60 mph in a mere 4.2 seconds and power on to a limited top speed of 155 mph with performance tires, the same top speed as for the six-cylinder models.
The final X5 variant is the xDrive50e PHEV which pairs the 3.0-liter inline-six turbo engine with a synchronous electric motor. On its own, the 3.0L makes 308 hp and 331 lb-ft, while the electric motor generates 194 hp and 280 lb-ft. Totally system outputs amount to 483 lb-ft and 516 lb-ft, equating to a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. BMW's somewhat eerie IconicSounds Electric is fitted to this model, creating a unique sound when driving in fully electric mode.
Both comfortable and quite agile for its size, the M60i now comes with Integral Active Steering that can turn the rear wheels up to three degrees. This assists with parking and agility, and adds to the M60i's standard adaptive M suspension that adjusts to suit the driving situation.
Adaptive two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling is available, but comes as standard on the xDrive50e.
Although BMW promises greater efficiency overall, EPA estimates are not yet available for the 2024 X5. Hopefully, we see improvements from the 2023 model's combined 23 mpg for the 40i variants and 18 mpg combined for the older 50i. The current xDrive45e returns 20 mpg and 50 MPGe, and has a 30-mile electric range. The good news here is that BMW estimates an improved 40-mile electric range for the newer xDrive50e.
Staying with the PHEV, its 25.7-kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery comes with a Combined Charging Unit that is compatible with both single-phase and three-phase charging. This doubles the AC charging rate to 7.4 kW, which will improve charging times. Charging has also been made simpler, as users can now manage charging of the battery remotely via their smartphone. Other BMW Charging services are integrated into the My BMW App.
The most noteworthy upgrade in the BMW X5's interior is the standard BMW Curved Display. Replacing the dual 12.3-inch displays used previously, the new Curved Display houses a 12.3-inch information display and 14.9-inch control display beneath a curved glass surface. Running the BMW Operating System 8, everything appears suitably high-tech and the system responds quickly to inputs, although the sheer number of icons and settings to wade through on the central touchscreen can be rather overwhelming at first.
Other advanced infotainment and driver-assistance features found inside have either been enhanced or newly introduced. A conventional car key is no longer needed thanks to the BMW Digital Key Plus, controllable via a smartphone running either iOS or Android operating systems. By walking up to or away from the X5, the vehicle is automatically locked or unlocked. With the BMW Live Cockpit professional, a new Augmented View function makes navigating to your destination more immersive and informative.
The latest iDrive system also uses a more skilled version of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Verbal instructions are all that's needed for the assistant to adjust the temperature, open a window, or open the panoramic glass roof. It can even learn a driver's behavior and proactively make suggestions.
Making driving safer and less fatiguing is the available Driving Assistance Professional Package with a new Highway Assistant. Especially useful over long distances, hands-free driving is possible at speeds of up to 85 mph on compatible, limited-access highways.
At parking speeds, several features have been enhanced to assist the driver. Using the My BMW App, owners can control parking maneuvers in tight spaces from their phones when standing outside the vehicle, and the Maneuver Assistant can store more complex maneuvers than before using GPS data.
The seats in the new BMW X5 are upholstered in Sensafin, BMW's alternative to leather, but Merino genuine leather remains available. Standard features include heated front seats, blind-spot detection, a panoramic moonroof, wireless device charging, lane departure warning, and a personal eSIM 5G.
At 33.9 cubic feet, the cargo space in the BMW X5 is practically sized, and folding down the second row frees up 72.3 cubes. These numbers drop slightly to 31.1/71.2 cubic feet, respectively, in the case of the xDrive50e.
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