The clean-sheet approach is a good one for sport-utility vehicle redesigns. After all, if the goal of an SUV is to be eminently practical - everything to everybody - then periodically wiping the board and starting fresh with the latest available technologies would seem to guarantee a competitive approach.
Such is the case with the 2019 BMW X5, all-new (save for certain drivetrain details) for the current model year and the first version of the vehicle to ride on the brand's shared CLAR platform (which is also used for the new BMW 3 Series sedan).
With more of a focus on comfort and capability, the 2019 X5 rises to a level as-yet unseen from BMW's SUV section of the showroom, and stands as a legitimate alternative to upstarts from Volvo (XC90) and stalwarts from Mercedes-Benz (GLE-Class).
Read also our First Drive review of the 2019 BMW X5
The model that spent a week in my care was the over-muscled xDrive50i, a vehicle that boasts a wonderful (yet frankly unnecessary) twin-turbo 4.4L V8 engine as standard equipment. Paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, this all-wheel-drive X5 is able to reach 100 km/h in a startling 4.2 seconds - the profit one reaps when flogging its 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque to the fullest.
My judgment of the xDrive50i's splendid sinew is made with the knowledge that the 335-hp turbo-six edition of the X5 will be more than enough truck for, well, anyone not planning on racing for pinks on the way out of the mall parking lot.
Still, if you've got the cash to flash (and you'll be forking over nearly $100k for the privilege of owning a fully-loaded V8 edition, not to mention what it will ding you for at the fuel pump), you'll no doubt appreciate the available M Adaptive suspension and rear steering system as you do your best to pilot this behemoth through a sweeping corner.
Dynamically, the xDrive50i is that peculiar blend of massive mechanical grip (thanks to enormous tires conspiring with all-wheel drive), combined with matter-of-fact on-demand torque delivery that in the edgiest Sport+ driving mode borders on alarming. When kept in Comfort, however, it's a pleasing overcompensation indeed to squeeze the throttle and own the road ahead with the artificially-enhanced engine growl emanating from the vehicle's stereo speakers.
There's also an off-road package available, but let's face it: it's better to leave it on the shelf at the dealer than never touch the drive settings dial on all those trails you're never going to run in this lux-oriented cruiser.
In addition to its renewed architecture underneath, and its prominent but certainly not garish exterior styling tweaks, the 2019 BMW X5 also makes excellent strides forward inside its cabin. Every bit of the xDrive50i feels worthy of its inflated sticker price, from the supportive and attractively-stitched leather seats to the full-LCD gauge cluster in front of the driver to the tasteful mood lighting that adds to rather than subtracts from the vehicle's ambience.
Then there's iDrive, an infotainment system that has finally climbed to the top of the luxury car pile in terms of ease-of-use and intuitive interface, not to mention its attractive graphics. It's remarkable how many premium car companies haven't been able to translate owner feedback into a usable touchscreen-plus-rotary-dial system in the same way as BMW, and the X5 is the latest recipient of this legacy.
Although the X5 is available with a third row of seating, don't bother unless hauling the youngest of children - enjoy instead the ample second set of accommodations and the solid cargo room that becomes available with everything behind the driver's seat folded forward. My one complaint about the X5's practicality? I could do without the twee split-tailgate that requires multiple button pushes to fully open to the point where you're not reaching over the fold-down lip at the bottom.
The 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i is the complete SUV package. Foul-weather handling, prodigious space for cargo (human and otherwise), eye-raising power, and a level of comfort and style that is a cut above its progenitors.
As noted, you'll certainly feel a drain on your wallet should you opt for the brand's beastliest X5, but this is also true of each and every one of its top-tier competitors, save for the cheaper (and less gifted) Volvo. When shopping for a sport-utility vehicle in this price bracket, need is quickly subsumed by want, and price rarely becomes more than a light bicker between salesperson and shopper on the showroom floor.
If you need a bargain luxury truck, you know where to go, and it's not BMW. If you want the best iteration of a fairly well-massaged formula, beset by the latest and greatest gear to have emerged from the German automaker's engineering department, then you'll no doubt be comfortable with a lease payment that matches your mortgage.