The mid-size luxury SUV twins have been substantially upgraded.
The covers have come off the 2024 BMW X5 and X6, the German manufacturer's popular mid-size luxury SUVs. Although these are facelifts and not all-new models, there are a number of important upgrades to take note of. That includes an increase in power and electric range for the X5 xDrive50e plug-in hybrid, new inline-six and V8 engines with 48V mild-hybrid technology, fresh design elements, and the fitment of the company's Curved Display in the cabin.
The X5 is BMW's oldest SUV nameplate, but it remains the company's top-selling model in the USA with 82,372 units sold in 2022. The BMW X6 sold a comparatively few 13,676 units, but it has always been marketed as a sportier, more niche alternative. In both cases, the changes make a pair of benchmark SUVs even better.
We'll start with the looks, and the changes successfully freshen up an already handsome SUV in the case of the X5; the coupe-style X6 is more of an acquired taste.
As with the latest 3 Series, the contour of the headlights for the X5 has been narrowed and simplified. They contain arrow-shaped daytime driving lights, and they flank a revised kidney grille design. The grille now has sculpted surfaces for its border, and for the first time, it can be illuminated for various X5 trims as an option. New vertical air curtains and changes to the lower air intake complete the transformation of the front fascia.
At the back, the X5 features new taillights with fiber-optic light elements, and an 'X' motif can be seen inside the lights. There are new air breathers for the front side panels, and the M Sport Package is available with add-ons like Shadowline trim and trapezoidal tailpipes.
The X6 gets a similarly revised headlight treatment, but here the M Sport package is standard. This brings with it an octagonal design element below the kidney grille, prominent side apertures, and the more liberal use of black surfaces. The sloping roof leads to slim taillights with the L-shaped light signature.
The range-topping X5 M60i and X6 M60i - the M50i falls away - are distinguished from lower-spec models by double bars and an M logo for the grille, high-gloss black M exterior mirror caps, and quad-exit tailpipes. In the case of the X6 M60i, there is also a high-gloss black rear spoiler.
Unique to the X5 M60i is new Marina Bay Blue metallic paint, along with Isle of Man Green for the X6 M60i; the flamboyant X6 probably also would've done justice to BMW's Thundernight metallic as found on the 2 Series. The general X5/X6 color palette has been expanded with new metallic additions like Blue Ridge Mountain, Brooklyn Grey, Skyscraper Grey, and Frozen Pure Grey.
Under the fresh sheet metal lies a range of updated engines. 48V mild-hybrid technology has gradually made its way into models throughout the BMW lineup, and now electrification has found its way into every X5/X6.
With 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, the 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engines' outputs in the base models have been increased by 40 hp/51 lb-ft. That torque figure can be boosted to 398 lb-ft with the mild-hybrid system, and both the X5 and X6 with this engine can hit 60 mph in 5.2 seconds (with xDrive) based on preliminary testing. Regarding the 40i powertrain, it's the only one available with rear-wheel drive, and only in the X5 - every other X5/X6 uses xDrive AWD.
The latest version of BMW's classic inline-six has received upgrades related to injection, the combustion process, camshaft control, the ignition system, and exhaust gas routing. An eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission is standard, and it has an integrated electric motor. The motor's boost amounts to another 12 hp and 147 lb-ft, while enabling a much smoother auto start/stop function and coasting function. This motor draws power from a 48V battery in the engine compartment.
The latest xDrive50e PHEV has had both its 3.0-liter inline-six engine and electric motor revised, and it now realizes system outputs of 483 hp and 516 lb-ft. This engine makes use of the efficient Miller cycle that shortens the time that the intake valves are open.
Both quick and efficient, the xDrive50e will hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds yet has an impressive estimated electric-only range of 40 miles. This model's new synchronous motor makes 194 hp, 83 horses more than before, and 331 lb-ft. The motor draws energy from a 25.7-kWh lithium-ion battery (almost 25% more than before) mounted under the floor. The AC charging rate has been doubled to 7.4 kW. No version of the X6 is equipped with this powertrain.
That brings us to the X5 M60i and X6 M60i. A new 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 engine features a new oil pump, a reinforced crankshaft drive, a 48V mild-hybrid system, and other changes. It's perhaps disappointing, then, that the latest S68 mill makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft - exactly the same outputs as the current X5 M50i. The 0-60 time is 4.2 seconds.
Integral Active Steering is now standard on all M60i models, improving agility and comfort as the rear wheels can turn in the opposite direction to the front ones under certain conditions. Speaking of wheels, 20-inch items are standard, but performance runflat tires measuring 21 inches and performance non-runflat tires in 22-inch sizes are available.
Heading inside, both the X5 and X6 benefit from a raft of upgrades. The digital BMW Curved Display features a 12.3-inch information display and a control display measuring 14.9 inches, both housed together behind a curved glass surface. BMW Operating System 8 boasts the latest software data processing from the brand, although not for long as an even more modern version of iDrive is coming later this year in the latest 5 Series.
If you enjoy talking to your car, you can take advantage of the new skills added to the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that uses natural speech guidance to operate the ventilation system or open the glass roof. Augmented View for the navigation system is new, as is the Highway Assistant for the available Driving Assistance Professional Package which means you can enjoy hands-free driving on selected highways at up to 85 mph.
Parking is made simpler with the new Maneuver Assistant that can accelerate, brake, or turn once it has memorized a starting point. The dashboard comes with BMW's latest take on a leather-aping material, that being Sensafin. A new ambient light bar with a crystalline surface structure, a new center console control panel, a different toggle gear selector, and available glass controls are also available. Merino leather can replace the standard Sensafin-trimmed sport seats, and the X6 can be had with a Tacora Red color scheme.
With that mouthful of changes out of the way, it's time to talk pricing. The latest X5 starts at $65,200 for the sDrive40i variant, which works out to $3,600 more than the equivalent 2023 model. After that, you'll pay $67,500 for the xDrive40i, $72,500 for the xDrive50e, and $89,300 for the M60i xDrive. The X6 starts at $73,900 for the xDrive40i and goes up to $93,600 for the M60i xDrive. These prices all exclude a $995 destination charge.
Production of the new X5 and X6 gets underway in April 2023 in South Carolina.
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