After driving the car for the first time, here are our key takeaways.
BMW flew us out to Atlanta, Georgia to drive the all-new, fourth generation X5. While we were there, we filmed a video with the X5 (shown below). Also be sure to check out our full written review on the 2019 X5.
The previous X5 was never one of our favorite luxury SUVs. It wasn't quite as elegant as a Range Rover, nor as sporty as a Porsche Cayenne. With this new generation, BMW has thrown out a lot of what was starting to feel stale about its models, and embraced a new ethos of technology and luxury. Though the changes on the outside aren't drastic, inside the new X5 has taken a huge leap forward, making it feel like it's worth every bit of the $81,000 as-tested price.
After driving the X5 around Atlanta, we came up with a list of our top five favorite features that we think you should know about.
One of the coolest features of the new X5 has to be the available Laserlight headlights. We didn't have the chance to drive the car at night, but this new technology is around 30% more efficient than LEDs and can illuminate around double the distance. While this is all very nice, the biggest advantage of laser headlights is that they are fully adaptive and can cut out specific portions of the high beams based on when it detects oncoming cars, thus always producing as much light as possible.
Unfortunately, US regulations do not currently permit the use of fully adaptive Laser headlights, so the X5 simply dims the high beams completely when it detects oncoming cars, just like every other adaptive high beam system in the US. We've spoken to BMW about what would happen if the regulation changed, and unfortunately adding the fully adaptive lights would take more than just a software change.
Inside is where the BMW made the biggest changes with the new X5. Our test model was filled to the brim with luxury including massaging seats. One of our favorite options was the glass shifter and iDrive controller option for a bargain $650. This package replaces the shifter with a beautiful piece of glass, which houses an illuminated letter X in the center. The iDrive control for the latest iDrive 7, one of the best infotainment systems on the market, also feels like it is extremely high quality.
BMW's latest iteration of iDrive has some interesting new features including a new virtual display that replaces the physical gauge cluster. We also had a chance to play around with the gesture controls, which first arrived on the 7 Series. The infotainment system can be controlled using hand motions. For example, to change the volume, you simply twist your finger in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. The gesture controls were fun to play around with on the test drive, but we prefer to use the iDrive control or the touchscreen for most basic functions. Those who like to talk a lot with their hands may also find radio stations changing more often than they'd like.
On our first drive, BMW had us take the X5 off-road, where we were shocked at how well it handled itself. Few people will ever take their $80,000-plus SUV through a tough off-road trail, but it's nice to know you can. The X5 easily navigated steep dirt includes and gradients, thanks to an off-road cruise control that crawls down hills without needing to use the pedals. Combine that with a high-resolution 360-degree camera and off-roading in the X5 is extremely easy.
On our first drive event, we only had the chance to drive the X5 xDrive40i trim, which is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six producing 340 horsepower. The US will also receive the xDrive50i, which has a twin-turbo V8 pumping out 462 hp. While a plug-in hybrid version is also on the way, the US won't receive the two diesel variants of the X5.
This is a shame because BMW brought the new M50d variant to the launch event. We begged BMW to let us drive it but it was strictly off limits for the US-based journalists. This was extremely disappointing because the M50d is powered by a quad-turbocharged inline-six making 400 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque.