BMW is a luxury and performance auto manufacturer based in Germany. The automaker was founded in 1916 and has its headquarters in Munich, Bavaria. The BMW brand was one of the early entries in the premium SUV market, so the BMW sport utility vehicle lineup enjoys a lot of market share. BMW vehicles, including the BMW SUV lineup, are built around the world, at BMW assembly facilities throughout Germany and in other countries. BMW’s SUV lineup follows the brand’s general nomenclature, a letter representing the vehicle type followed by a number representing the model’s hierarchy in the lineup. BMW sport utility vehicle models are designated by the letter X in the model name, and many BMW SUV models are available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
The BMW X5 was the first BMW sport utility vehicle to market, making its debut in 1999 and closely following on the heels of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The X5 is a five-door mid size SUV, and though it is off-road capable, BMW’s marketing for the X5, especially immediately after its launch, focused on its roadworthiness, performance attributes, and luxury features, much like a BMW sports car. The marketing campaigns for later BMW SUVs followed a similar strategy. The X5 even became available as an M version in 2009, a designation that BMW uses to identify a high performance variation of a model, accessorized with exclusive racing-inspired features and design cues. The BMW X5 is built at BMW assembly facilities in South Carolina in the United States, Mexico, and Russia. The BMW X5 was followed by the BMW X3 for the 2004 model year. Based on the BMW 3-Series lineup of premium small cars, this BMW sport utility vehicle is somewhat smaller than the X5 and occupies a lower price point in the BMW SUV lineup. The X3 is considered more of a crossover than a full sport utility vehicle, but the X3 and X5 together form the backbone of the BMW SUV family.
Rounding out the BMW sport utility vehicle lineup are the BMW X1, X4, and X6 models. The X1 and X4 are both compact crossover SUVs. The X1, the smallest of the BMW SUVs, was introduced in Europe for the 2010 model year, Canada for 2012, and the United States for 2013. The X4, which was a 2014 model year release, is slightly larger than the X3, but will share its powertrain options with the X3. The BMW X6, a crossover added to the lineup in 2008, features a coupe-inspired body with BMW SUV underpinnings.