We take the most powerful version of the new BMW X5 for a weekly test drive only to find out that we didn’t want to give it back.
The 2019 BMW X5 surprised the heck out of Matt in his review of the X5 xDrive40i, the “entry-level” new-generation X5 model. Both Matt and I agree the 40i is the more sensible option and that the 50i would have both riding our bicycle to work as we waited for our license to become valid again. And still, after testing both versions myself, I can’t help but long for the more powerful xDrive50i. There’s no rational for it, but it’s like business class. Once you’ve had it, you can’t go back.
The BMW X5 xDrive40i is a fantastic machine, but after you’ve tasted the X5 xDrive50i you’ll always find the 40i lacking. This isn’t just about power either. Take the BMW 5 Series for example. I’m a huge fan of the BMW M5, but I still think I’d take the BMW 550i given the choice. The M5 is just too much. The BMW X5 xDrive50i isn’t too much, it’s just perfect.
It’s as comfortable as the xDrive40i, as refined, as manageable, and as linear. It’s just a heck of a lot faster. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 making 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm, the X5 xDrive50i gets to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds. That’s a full second faster than the X5 xDrive40i but honestly, it feels even faster.
Feeling is key here. Going fast is one thing but with our roads and speed limitations, fast isn’t what matters. What matters is how a vehicle feels in day-to-day situations such as passing or just leaving a traffic light. Like all BMW models powered by this twin-turbo V8, the xDrive50i is so smooth and just so easy.
The gearbox works flawlessly and when in Comfort mode the new-generation X5 is a huge step up over the previous generation. This applies to both the xDrive40i and xDrive50i. The new fully-digital instrument cluster, crystalized/glass gear lever, Crafted Clarity glass dials, massage seats, ventilated seats, and leather dashboard give the interior an incredible feeling of ultra luxury. Now, all isn’t perfect because many of the features listed above are only available in the Premium Excellence Package which comes in at a slightly crazy $16,000. My 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i started at $86,000, but the end price was $106,500 which may discourage a few buyers from going with the 50i version.
My tester also had the M Sport package, the highlight of which are the 22-inch wheels. Absolute beauties, they gave the X5 a head-turning look that even got a compliment at the gas station. Vehicles like the X5 don’t usually get too many looks, but none are as noticeable as a 2019 X5 with an M Sport Package. It also makes the X5 xDrive50i sound great and quite a bit louder than the X5 xDrive40i.
On the flip side, those 22-inchers are a nightmare on broken city streets and do hinder the X5’s overall comfort. Yes, the new BMW luxury mid-size SUV is a lot more comfortable than the previous gen, but it’s still not as comfy as a Mercedes-Benz GLE, especially with those wheels. I would stick to the 20-inch base wheels or push comes to shove go with the 21-inch options.
The BMW X5 xDrive50i also features the full suite of ConnectedDrive technologies including Gesture Control which gives the user the ability to control various functions using hand gestures. Rotate your finger, for example, and the audio system’s volume increases or decreases. It’s a cute feature that you will either love or hate. The massive key fob gives you the ability to remotely control your BMW into and out of its parking spot. It’s easier to just show you.
How does it compare to the competition?
The 2019 BMW X5 is more expensive than its main rival, the Mercedes-Benz GLE. The X5 starts at $71,000 while the GLE starts at $64,000. The BMW X5 xDrive50i doesn’t really have direct competition right now from Mercedes-Benz or Audi. It’s only real competitor is the Porsche Cayenne S which starts at $94,100. The Cayenne S is slightly sharper and feels slightly lighter, but the X5 xDrive50i is faster and provides more value. It also has more interior space overall than the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
That’s another reason to go with the xDrive50i over the xDrive40i. I don’t feel like the latter is worth $7,000 more than the GLE 350 and the GLE 450 starting at $72,000 gives it a run for its money in terms of luxury and refinement. The BMW X5 xDrive50i on the other hand stands alone and put simply, we think you should buy one.