No More Bowers & Wilkins Sound System on Lesser Versions of the 2024 BMW X5 and X6

The all-new BMW X5 and BMW X6 received a comprehensive facelift, one that is a display of Bavarian prowess. The marque got us used to dramatic mid-life changes for most of its vehicles and, with this latest update, we got exactly that – a radical change that keeps just the underpinnings. But something’s missing and we must look into it.
2024 BMW X5 U.S. Models With and Without the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System 6 photos
Photo: BMW US / Gravis on Wikipedia / PNGWind / autoevolution edit
Bowers & Wilkins Sound System on a Pre-LCI 5 SeriesBowers & Wilkins on the 2024 X5 M60iHarman Kardon on the X6 xDrive40iBowers & Wilkins on the X7 xDrive40iBowers & Wilkins Sound System on a Pre-LCI 5 Series
BMW gave the X5 and X6 a new look that, fortunately, was not as polarizing as the exterior design of the iX or the brand-new 7 Series. It still managed to make the headlights of both SAVs (that’s what the Bavarians call their SUVs that aren’t meant to leave the pavement) look like they resemble the previous generation’s cheapest option. The marque also gave up on any angel eye design resemblance, sadly. Everything’s minimalistic, slimmer, and subtler now, apart from the imposing body size, of course.

But improvements to the interior didn’t come without some drastic and somewhat unexpected measures. BMW added new materials, a new infotainment system, eliminated some buttons, and also decided to not give U.S. customers who aren’t willing to splurge a bit the best sound system they have.

Right now, only the X5 M60i, the X5 M Competition, the X6 M60i, and the X6 M Competition get the chance to equip their performance-oriented SAVs with the 20-speaker 1,500-watt surround sound system. They must pay $3,400 for it, but considering it’s rated as one of the best out there, audiophiles might be inclined to spend just a tad bit more so they can tell those joining them on adventures about the “exclusive diamond dome tweeters.”

If you’re planning on buying an X5 sDrive40i, X5 xDrive40i, X5 xDrive50e, or an X6 xDrive40i, then you must know that the Harman Kardon sound system is the best one you can currently get. It's accessible either by buying the $3,450 Executive Package or by optioning it separately for $875.

BMW went on this route because it might intend to streamline manufacturing or because it noticed that M-lite and M buyers tend to spend more for better equipment.

On a positive note, the X7 is not affected by this new rule. You can get the three-row all-wheel-drive SAV with the three-liter six-cylinder gas-powered engine (xDrive40i) and the Bowers & Wilkins sound system remains available. Mind you, it costs $800 more than the ones found on the facelifted X5 and X6.

We found this decision to be a tad bit weird, so we asked BMW USA about it. A spokesperson confirmed for autoevolution that American buyers of the two refreshed V8-less SAVs cannot pay for the upgraded audio experience. Unfortunately, we haven't learned exactly why this decision was taken.

Finally, European customers get to put the mighty Bowers & Wilkins option on any version of the new X5 and X6, even though the midsize (by American standards) SAVs they buy are also made in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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