They say power corrupts. In the case of the 2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i, the luxury SUV’s extra grunt comes in the form of an intoxicating 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque that will tempt you every time you’re behind the wheel. Will you be able to resist the seduction of all that power under your right foot?

The Speedy Luxury SUV

Should you give in and let the beast out, you’ll be rewarded with explosive straight-line performance. The 2019 X5 xDrive50i hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds on the way to a 12.9-second quarter mile at 108.9 mph. Minimal turbo lag results in linear power delivery, further adding to the effortless feeling you get on the road. Even the brakes are powerful, bringing this 5,263-pound BMW to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet. There’s also a nice, reassuring feel from the brake pedal that gives you confidence during emergency situations.

The 2019 BMW X5 changes directions quicker than you’d expect. Well-controlled body motions, a sportier suspension calibration, and the staggered-width tires on our M Sport tester further improve overall handling. The big luxury SUV finished the figure-eight course in 25.8 seconds at an average of 0.75 g. However, when pushed hard, the X5 starts to get sloppy. “First lap was very promising handling-wise, but then the front end went away and it became a big-time understeerer,” said testing director Kim Reynolds. The numb steering makes it seem like the rack isn’t attached to the front axle. Even in its sportiest setting, the electrically assisted unit becomes artificially heavy, adding weight without any feel.

Opting for the M Sport variant delivers improved driving dynamics at the cost of ride comfort. You’ll feel every road imperfection and get jostled around over uneven surfaces. Even with the standard adaptive suspension in Comfort mode, the X5 rides rougher than non–M Sport models. When equipped with the available 21-inch alloy wheels shod in performance rubber, you get more road and tire noise entering the cabin, all while worsening the X5’s ride quality.

Familiar Luxury

Nearly everything you touch inside the 2019 BMW X5 feels substantial. Even the buttons and knobs feel expensive when you use them, complete with satisfying clicks. The leather seats provide plenty of support and just the right amount of adjustability, and the second row has generous head- and legroom even for tall passengers. A third row is optional; however, BMW offers the full-size X7 if you’re looking for maximum third-row comfort.

Complaints? The lack of pizzazz. BMW’s interior design remains ultra-conservative. Even with the rich two-tone black and brown leather, glass controls, and configurable ambient lighting, the X5’s cabin lacks the visual eye candy in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class or the simple elegance of the Audi Q7. There are also a couple features missing in our $92,405 tester, including heated rear seats and ventilated front seats with massaging function.

Learning the Tech

The 2019 BMW X5 loses more points in the technology front. The available digital gauge cluster has limited customizability, and with the iDrive-based infotainment system, many functions are buried under enough submenus that even shortcut buttons and a large, responsive touchscreen don’t make it any easier to use. Want Apple CarPlay? You have one year until you’re forced to pay an annual fee, and Android Auto isn’t available. Sure, BMW has wireless CarPlay, but the tech kept cutting out during our time with the car. At least the Harman Kardon surround sound system provides a clear, balanced listening experience, perfect for drowning out exterior noise seeping into the cabin.

BMW’s active driver assistance suite operates inconsistently. The lane keeping assist only works well when adaptive cruise control and lane centering are active. If the other two systems are off, it jerks you back into your lane instead of gently guiding you back. On the bright side, the adaptive cruise control system slows and accelerates the vehicle more naturally than systems from Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, which makes a huge difference during stop-and-go traffic. Having said that, steering resistance with all the driver assistance features activated can make it tough to intervene in an emergency situation.

Opting for the 2019 BMW X5’s available V-8 turns the luxury SUV into a family rocket ship that handles well for its size. However, that’s to be expected in an M Sport package–equipped luxury SUV. Whereas the Volvo XC90 exemplifies Scandinavian style and the Audi Q7 showcases meticulous attention to detail, the BMW X5 sticks to familiarity. It has everything you expect from a luxury SUV wearing a BMW badge but not much else. That may satisfy some buyers, but to the discerning consumer in search of more than speed and a status symbol, competitors have SUVs that go beyond that.

2019 BMW X5 xDrive50i
BASE PRICE $76,745
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 4.4L/456-hp/479-lb-ft turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,263 lb (51/49%)
WHEELBASE 117.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.3 x 78.9 x 69.0 in
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
QUARTER MILE 12.9 sec @ 108.9 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 119 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.8 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.02 lb/mile

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