Is the New BMW X5 Really All That New?

The BMW 5 Series Touring is a fantastic car. It’s been with us since 1992, through 4 generations and a few facelifts, all the while trying to become better at what it does, tempting us with more cargo room, better fuel economy and places to put our dogs. It tried being a screaming V10-powered M car, started glueing itself to the ground with xDrive and adopted the cleanest diesel engines possible. Yet for all its efforts, the conventional estate is being killed by another BMW introduced 7 years after it.
The first generation X5 came out in 1999 to the sound of “what the hell were you thinking BMW!”. Despite criticism, the starting point for the luxury German SUV market became clear as daylight when sales started pouring in. Land Rover contributed a great deal to the original model, but there can be no denying BMW set the foundation on which cars like Audi’s Q5 and Q7, Porsche’s Cayenne, Merc’s ML plus a host of wannabes walk on today.

Despite the innovation of the original X5, I’m not completely convinced its grandson is worthy of the crown it inherits. Oh sure, it might be able to keep itself safely inside a lane without you doing much and comes with a rear-wheel-drive version, as well as its traditional all-wheel-drive, just in case you're the type of guy who likes to have less traction instead of more. But Porsche, for example, just came out with a an amazing hybrid, a biturbo V6 to replace a V8 and a long wheelbase model just for the facelift of the Panamera saloon.

There’s nothing boring or bland that I can put my finger on, but I do have a tremendous feeling of being underwhelmed. I also can’t shake the feeling that American consumers, with their insatiable SUV appetites, forced BMW to make something “All-New” just for the sake of it. Comparing the old E70 X5 50i with the new F15 X5 50i, I found the wheelbase was identical, and most of the other dimensions are within millimeters of each other. Overall, the third-generation X5 is definitely more evolution than revolution.

As much as I like criticizing BMW for what it’s doing, I can’t blame them for anything. This new model, I’m sure, will sell about 150,000 units per year if not more, with a third staying in the US. That’s a lot of money in the bank, and a lot of potentially happy customers.

I think the one overwhelmingly positive thing about the X5 is the design. It definitely seems somewhat more aggressive than its predecessor, impressively over-designed at the front and featuring huge headlights and twin grilles that look like they’re about to burst. It’s very American, very Hummer+Durango+Escalade. This will work very well at the X5’s natural stomping ground, the mall parking lot. Meanwhile, the rear is very restrained, very European. With a party at the front and all-business at the back, it’s like the German+American Sports Activity Mullet, or SAM for short. There you go BMW, I know how you like to invent names!

So what do you guys think? Is this another lemon sucker, or the best thing in the SUV world since chrome wheels and leather interiors?
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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