Is The 2019 BMW X5 (G05) A Stylistic Improvement Over Its F15 Predecessor?

Hard as it may be to remember, there was a time when automakers like BMW didn’t produce crossover SUVs.

For the Bavarian automaker, that time came to an end nearly 20 years ago when it introduced the first-generation X5 – just a couple of years after Mercedes launched the M-Class (now known as the GLE), a few years before Porsche rolled out the first Cayenne, and several years before Audi joined in with the original Q7.

Those times are long behind us, though – particularly for BMW, which has rolled out the X1, X2, X3, X4, and X6 in the years since. And along the way, it’s introduced several new iterations of the X5 that kicked it all off.

Bayerische Motoren Werke just revealed the latest of four generations of X5 just the other day. And like those that came before, it promises a significant improvement over the model it replaces. Not least of all stylistically. So take a ride with us down the dusty trails of the Bavarian countryside as we compare the new X5 with the outgoing model.

Bigger Grille’s Just The Start

The most immediately discernible stylistic difference between the third- and fourth-generation X5s is the grille. The new model’s twin-kidney aperture is noticeably taller, with bodywork separating it from the headlights (which are mostly the same shape as the previous model’s) instead of the area in between.

The ducts in the front bumper are bigger, too, with previous round daytime running lights now integrated into the front corner vents, and the horizontal intake between the grille and air dam divvied up between the higher and lower openings – all of which lends the new G05 model a more aggressive look over the previous F15.

The creases along the flank also seek to emphasize the wheels more, with more pronounced wheel arches, an upward arch in the character line above the rear wheels, and a more pronounced vent behind the front rollers. And though the greenhouse is largely the same shape, and still encompasses BMW’s signature Hofmeister kink in the D-pillar – but that dogleg starts a little higher in tandem with the emphasized rear wheel.

While the headlamps haven’t changed much in shape from one model to the next, the taillights most definitely have – and we’re not entirely sure for the better. Where the F15 mode’s lights carried a shape to the previous two iterations, the G05’s adopt a different outline entirely, and they remind us more of an American crossover than a German one. (Which may be just as well, because BMW makes most of its crossovers in the US, anyway.)

The rear bumper incorporates a more functional-looking channeled faux-diffuser, flanked by trapezoidal tailpipe finishers instead of round tips. The horizontally split styling of the tailgate has carried over, though, so there’s still a measure of aesthetic continuity there.

Familiar But Updated Interior

The manufacturer has yet to show us much of the new X5’s interior. But from what we can see, the environment ought to be familiar to existing owners considering trading in. Like the tailgate, the dashboard retains a distinctly horizontal layout to give it an expansive and spacious (as opposed to a more cocooning) look and feel.

Like the front end, the vents inside are more pronounced, though, with the HVAC controls framed together with the center vents and separated from the audio knobs – which may make it easier to operate without the driver taking his or her eyes off the road. As is the trend, the infotainment display is wider, and there’s a digital instrument cluster as well, mounted behind a slimmer-spoked steering wheel.

Taken all together, the styling of the new X5 strikes us as a marked improvement over the model it replaces. As well it should. With over 2.2 million units sold around the world over the course of its lifetime, the X5 is one of BMW’s biggest sellers –especially in the United States where it ranked last year second only to the 3 Series. In fact BMW sold more X5s here last year than the entire Mini brand, and even on styling alone, the new model ought to attract even more customers.

  • Howfarr
    • PK

      nah man that title goes to the ford gt rear!!!!

      • ace_9

        I’m thinking the same, but for some reason very few people see it. I suspect they are forcing themselves to ignore the rear design 🙂

  • iea96

    The shorter overhangs add a lot to the sporty appearance. While the rear is not really traditional BMW, it’s not looking terrible either. Apart from the humongous kidney grilles, it’s a decent refresh.

  • Toronado_II

    The tail lights are not bad, but is it not BMW anymore. And I’m not sure about the front grill… I’m happy to see the round fog lights and the opening underneath the kidney grill has been removed (smilling opening).

  • alberto

    Elegance and ” bon ton ” have given way to arrogance and the most massive German style. Enough with the tanks!

    • Andrewthecarguy

      The Germans are building what people are buying. It is a business, period dot.

  • zebda

    The new one looks more like 2nd gen X5 (the best looking X5 ever). 3rd gen looks too thin and tall, not agressive at all. The new one again is bolder and that’s best part of it’s design.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      On point.
      I think each generation has versions that look fantastic. The E53 4.8is is gorgeous even by today’s standards. The E70 LCI 5.0 with sport package is the one (better looking than the ///M X5 IMO) and the F15 ///M X5 cannot be ignored it has so much presence. With the G05, the M sport is where it’s at right now; awaiting the full M version.

  • haudit
    • Autoexperte

      No, it doesn´t look like them

      • Howfarr

        Yes….. yes it does

  • BlackPegasus

    The new model definitely looks better from all angles.

    • Stigasawuswrecks

      BMW just needs a new interior designer. Theyce been using the same basic layout since 2001.

      • wintergraan

        I have to agree, the interiors look soo similar. Just look at the positioning of the infotainment screen or the air vents – almost unchanged. BMW designers are either lazy as hell or completely unimaginative, so pathetic 😉

        • Andrewthecarguy

          Not lazy and not pathetic either. It is called heritage. True bimmer drivers always have at least one BMW in their garage if not multiple and they like their bimmers exactly as built. BMW designs cars to have long lasting appeal that spans decades. That is why a 30 year old BMW can fetch tens of thousands for no reason other than being a bimmer 🙂

          • wintergraan

            Irony somehow doesn’t work on the internet 🙁 I was trying to make clear that BMW’s interior design has indeed changed over the years, e.g. the positioning of the screen and air vents.
            Then again some design elements and the driver oriented layout have remained unchanged – but that’s definitely a good thing.
            Many people simply like to complain about things. But if BMW moved away from their familiar design philosophy there would be the same people complaining about the lack of typical BMW design and layout 😀

          • Andrewthecarguy

            Ha! I re-read your comments and I get it now 😉
            There is no screen in the picture you posted for example!
            I do agree that people will complain no matter what, so you are right about that.

          • wintergraan

            Exactly. And I’m so tired of people saying BMW’s interiors aren’t on the same level as Merc’s and Audi’s. That’s utter bs 😀

      • Kaisuke971

        Since the 70s actually, but that’s the whole point. Just like the Hoffmeister Kink or the kidney grilles, it’s part of their DNA. When you seat in a BMW it has to look and feel like a BMW

  • TheBelltower

    Everything has been tidied up, with the exception of the grille. The front grille makes absolutely no visual sense. Though I have no doubt that most people will eventually look right through this incoherent visual booger once they become more common.

  • TrevP

    I like it.

  • TheHake

    Well I don’t HATE it.

  • Autoexperte

    looks much better than the old X5, only the old interior is better IMO

  • ErnieB

    Looks like just another bmw.. nothing radical.. the X2 is way more exciting to look at than this.. meh

  • Maximilian Norlande Rabbitt

    Amazing how dull the previous one looks in comparison

  • john1168

    I like the appearance of the front grille and tail lights on the F15 better. I’m not a fan of the big grilles and slightly generic looking tail lights. BUT, everything else looks great! I love the new interior! Very nice.

  • jaykit

    Holy nostrils Batman! I like everything on the new version except for that grill. Tone that thing down.

  • chris

    the new one is miles better

  • Jason Panamera

    I can’t stand these new grille proportions.

  • Brabusbus

    I’m a BMW fan, but I’m disappointed. it seems BMW has run out of ideas to design its products. Before the G series was born, every generation of BMW looks very significant difference, but now looks they are confused to design the product.

    Btw, the rear design of the new X5 is inspired from the new Fiesta….

  • botornot387

    I actually love the way the exterior turned out. I think the rear end is a much better improvement, and the front end looks striking. The interior is very meh, but the materials look obviously improved and there are some neat tricks like the rear hatch auto cover. The old one always looked like a jacked up minivan to me.

  • NO.

  • klowik

    the new model looks a lot better with more flowing and connected design.

  • Kash

    The new one reminds me of the E70, especially the fenders and the every part of the doors below the windows. I like the new interior because it doesn’t look like the F15’s which was just a slightly updated versions of the E70’s. I like the new headlights but not the brake lights. They kinda remind me of the XLS from Grand Theft Auto, but they also have a bit of a Sonata vibe to them, just less dramatic of a shape. Also not a fan of the new badging locations, especially the xDrive part. Personally I would’ve gone all the way down, but with the split tailgate I get that they probably couldn’t without scratching or damaging something. Otherwise the new one doesn’t look bad overall.

  • Jay

    I have had a last gen 4 series and current gen 5 series. To be completely sincere BMW is pushing their more aggressive designs into higher price models. They have toned down their base looks to sell their M models and options.

    Their add ons to their cars are insanely expensive and the only way to make them look not so dull. In reverse however, their interiors have leap frogged what they’d been doing previously in feature, design and quality. I love the new 5 i just picked up, for example, but its not as dynamic on some parts of the exterior the last gen was so I’ve had to purchase multiple add ons to get it there.

    I think their new X cars have the same issue. they are a lot softer on the outside in base trim and have some odd shapes that only get better if you spend thousands to get the upgraded muffler, wheels, trim, trim for trims, etc.

  • enthusia

    its nice, though the rear does remind me a bit of the jeep grand cherokee.
    i’m truly surprised they ditched the iconic tail light shape, though i gladly welcome that. Overall bmw really needs a brand new design language, their front facia and interiors are very stale.

  • Vince

    my gosh, this front grill is so ugly, and the rear so basic :/

  • erly5

    Never been a fan of the F15, the previous version still looks better to this day. This new version is definitely a vast improvement and also proves, as if proof were needed, that the headlights on any BMW should not be designed to meet the grill. Always manages to look heavy-handed and dated.

  • Tinky-Winky

    They’ve fixed the headlights, improved the interior and ruined everything else.

  • Miknik

    Side by side, there are some differences in detailing, but certainly not in a way that makes it look better, or more modern. Just small differences here and there.

  • fathornyblackandjoe

    On the exterior, I think the front looks pretty good. I know a lot of people don’t like the “huge” grille, but I don’t think they’re that bad. I think the “air scoop” (or whatever it is) under the grille is weird, though. Since the grille is massive, why does *IT* need to be that big? As far as the tailights…shape’s OK, but the white light bar inside is…it’s not BMW. Maybe they’re trying to add some new “words” to their design language, but it’s pretty generic and not unique or premium looking, in my opinion. It reminds me of the tail lights on the Lincoln MKX…which is probably one of the nicest looking Lincolns, but I don’t think Lincoln looks like a top tier premium brand.

    On the interior…where to even begin? It’s a mess. Everything. Utter disaster. I’m a little shocked, actually. Couldn’t be more disappointed. I’ve owned 3 generations of X5, and my current one will be my last. My next one will probably be an Audi; looking at the Q8 or the e-tron.

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