2019 BMW X5 Completely Redesigned With Better Looks, Luxury, Technology

The day after we drove the 2019 BMW X7 for a road test around South Carolina, BMW bused us to a garage at its South Carolina factory to preview the 2019 X5. The X5 trailed the Mercedes-Benz M-Class to market by a year, but broke open the segment by being the first luxury crossover to deliver a premium-car-like experience. As the X5 prepares for its 20th anniversary next year, it has sold more than 2 million units worldwide (when including its X6 sibling), and it sells better in the U.S. now than it ever has. Nevertheless, BMW wants its first “Sports Activity Vehicle” to reclaim the top spot from the only real competition it has ever had — the Mercedes GLE, which has outsold the X5 for the past two years.

The third-generation 2014 X5 was a holdover, built on a reworked chassis from the second-generation X5 introduced in 2007, considered an “update” rather than an entirely new model. The fourth-gen 2019 X5 starts from scratch. Although it rides on the SUV version of BMW’s Cluster Architecture — same as the X3 and the X7 — BMW used the gee-whiz multi-material structure to reduce weight instead of increase proportions. We couldn’t get a curb-weight figure, but BMW said the new X5 has the same stiffness as the outgoing vehicle, is about 1.1 inches longer with even smaller changes to height and width, on a wheelbase that’s “maybe two or three millimeters more” than the 2018 X5.

The rear aspect could have been cribbed from the current X5. The two-piece tailgate — a holdover from when BMW created the X5 while owning Range Rover — remains, but top and bottom feature full electric closure. Assertively three-dimensional LED taillights have raised, stretched U-shaped outer edges that surround inset centers. Down below, exhaust finishers go flush with the bumper instead of poking through bumper cutouts.

The redesigned control panel on the center tunnel upgrades cabin elegance with crystal surfacing on the iDrive knob and repositioned On/Off button, and a meaty cut crystal orb atop the redesigned shift lever. Slender pipes of ambient lighting highlight the center tunnel, doors, and instrument panel.

X5s fitted with the optional panoramic roof will let the sun shine in. The stars can also be had with the additional option of Sky Lounge LED lighting. Comfort glass, standard on the X7, will be available for the X5.

Based on the static impression, the 2019 X5 might be all new, but it looks like an evolution of its predecessor. The brawnier mid-sized crossover gets better looks, luxury, and tech, irons out some deficiencies in the current car, puts space between it and the X3, while leaving space for the grand-luxe X7 above. Still, it is obviously an X5. This is a reset rather than a revolution, leaving a nice template for further updates to come.

It goes on sale in Q4 this year, not long after the Atlanta press launch that celebrates the original car’s press launch 20 years ago. We’ll find out when we’re behind the wheel if BMW got the baseline X5 right.