BMW released the X5 in 1999, during the heart of the SUV movement. Even then the company recognized that it didn’t want to build just another bulky, truck-based utility vehicle. Instead BMW called the X5 the world’s first Sports Activity Vehicle, a fancy name for what is now known as the crossover. The difference then and now is that a BMW utility vehicle needs to ride and handle like raised versions of the company’s sport sedans. After a 2007 redesign that saw the X5 get bigger, BMW is refining the X5 for 2011, adding two turbocharged engines, revising the front suspension for better handling and adding an eight-speed automatic transmission and a spate of new features. The result is a sporty family hauler that performs better than ever.
Photos courtesy of BMW.