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2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i review: A potent and tech-rich SUV

A twin-turbo V8 and available M goodies make the xDrive50i the hottest X5… for now.

Jon Wong Former editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
Jon Wong
5 min read

The arrival of the brand-new 2019 X5 put BMW's longest-running SUV back at the top of its game. In base xDrive40i guise, associate editor Andrew Krok even said it might be the best luxury crossover in its highly competitive class.


2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i

The Good

The 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i is a fast, entertaining driver, and features a substantial tech menu.

The Bad

Its starting price is awfully high, and climbs rapidly when starting piling on options.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 X5 xDrive50i packs serious performance that’ll give the Porsche Cayenne S a run for its money.

The xDrive50i version you see here is even more impressive. With its bigger engine and sizable list of performance equipment, the X5 50i hunts prey of a sportier nature -- namely, Porsche's S. Does this powerful Bimmer have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with its great-driving rival from Stuttgart?

2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i: A sporty, tech-rich family runner

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While the xDrive40i is no slouch, what with 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque on offer, the 50i is a whole different animal. The X5 50i uses a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that puts out 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist. The latter is available from just 1,500 rpm to 4,750 rpm, for muscular giddy-up and impressive mid-range punch.

Working with BMW's familiar, ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, the drivetrain returns an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. BMW says the xDrive50i accelerates to 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds and top out at 155 mph. Crazy numbers for sure, that are likely to be bettered when the inevitable arrives. As for the 434-horsepower Porsche Cayenne S, it's a smidge slower, reaching 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, but hits a top speed of 164 mph giving it Texas Mile bragging rights over the Bimmer.

Numbers aside, the V8-powered X5 is seriously quick in day-to-day driving. In Sport mode, it charges away from stoplights in a rapid, grin-inducing fashion. The gearbox is wonderful, performing swift and well-timed up- and downshifts causing me to never really want to use the paddles for do-it-yourself gear selecting. There's no turbo lag or any muted throttle response, just intense acceleration, especially for a vehicle weighing in at a not-insignificant 5,170 pounds. There's even a properly mean note from the optional performance exhaust.

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The twin-turbo V8 is punchy with 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Adaptive dampers are standard issue on the 50i, but my tester's $3,650 Dynamic Handling Package raises the handling stakes further with rear-wheel steering, a torque-vectoring rear differential, active antiroll bars and upgraded brakes. Unfortunately, I'm unable to fully experience the benefits of all the hardware, since my test car is fitted with cold-weather-friendly General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tires.

While the Generals surely helped get the X5 through winter in one piece, on dry pavement the downside is increased body roll, less cornering grip and less steering feedback. Excellent ride quality is an upshot, but I have little doubt that stock all-seasons or the available performance rubber will firm up matters and put the X5 near the top of the class in terms of reflexes.

M Sport looker

To convey its increased performance, this X5 wears BMW's M Sport Design trim. This package adds body-colored exterior trim, black roof rails, a matte aluminum version of BMW's kidney grille and, most noticeably, 20-inch black M wheels. Along with the Carbon Black Metallic paint job, bigger grille, skinnier headlights, more shapely taillights, and evolutionary sheetmetal, the new X5 xDrive50i looks really sharp.

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M Sport touches make the X5 look slightly meaner.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Inside, a thick-rimmed M Sport steering wheel, metal pedals and aluminum accent trim are added to the X5's straightforward surroundings. The 20-way, heated, power front seats are super comfortable with sufficient side bolsters, and the heated armrests help me cope with cool spring mornings. A leather-wrapped dash, which will cost you an extra $1,200, is also a nice premium touch to the spacious cabin. As for cargo-carrying abilities, the X5 offers 72.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded.

Some may grumble about the abundance of buttons on the center stack, but I much prefer this to cramming everything into a touchscreen. It's easier to get acclimated to the location of hard buttons and far less distracting than sifting through numerous menus just to do things like change vents settings or switch between preset radio stations.

A whole lot of tech

Speaking of screens, they're prevalent in the X5. A 12.3-inch gauge display is standard and offers specific colors and layout changes depending on which drive mode the car is in. Comfort and Sport modes call up red backgrounds, while the Eco Pro uses a blue scheme.

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BMW's latest iDrive interface looks great on the 12.3-inch center touchscreen.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Another 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen resides on top of the center stack running the latest iDrive 7 infotainment system. iDrive is intuitive and responds immediately to commands from either the touchscreen or physical controls on the center console. Navigation, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound setup, satellite radio, Bluetooth and optional Wi-Fi hotspot are along for the ride. One year of Apple CarPlay is also included, but after that you'll disappointingly have to pony up a subscription fee to use it.

BMW's gesture control feature is also included on my test X5. It's silly, but works fairly well to adjust audio volume with a twirl of a finger, or accept and reject phone calls with a wave of a hand. It's kind of a gimmicky, unnecessary piece of technology, but does provide high entertainment value for passengers. Powering up phones and tablets shouldn't be an issue, either, with a wireless charge pad up front, along with 12-volt outlets, and USB-C ports sprinkled throughout both rows.

As for safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring come on all X5s. A $1,700 Driving Assistance Plus package adding full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist that gently keeps the car in the center of the lane when marching down the expressway. A head-up display and 360-degree backup camera can also be had.

How I'd spec it

When building out an X5 xDrive50i, I would begin with an M Sport Design trim, which begins at $79,550. A slick Phytonic Blue Metallic paint job is a no-cost choice, so I'll take that, too. Then I'll add the Dynamic Handling Package that's only available on the M Sport model for $3,650. My only concession for extra luxury will be the $250 heated front arm resets. All in, my car wears a price tag of $84,445, including $995 for destination, which is a bit more affordable than my $92,405 test car.

Straight line value

The 2019 X5 is impressive no matter which trim you choose, and the xDrive50i offers power that'll satisfy speed demons. The spacious, nicely-trimmed interior and a boatload of tech are just icing on the cake.

But do you go for the V8-powered X5 over the Cayenne S? If you're looking for the value play, the xDrive50i begins at $75,750, undercutting the $82,900 Porsche. But with its incredible power, luxury and great on-road demeanor, it hardly feels like a compromise at all.


2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i

Score Breakdown

Performance 8.5Features 9Design 7.5Media 8