The BMW X5 is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV sold by BMW since 2000. It is based on the E39 5 Series and features all wheel drive and a line of straight-6 and V8 engines. For non-US models there is a 3 litre diesel engine.
The history of the BMW X5 begins in the late 1990s, when Chris Bangle drew the first sketches from his Designworks studio in California. In many ways, the current car closely resembles these initial sketches. Bangle is both admired and derided for his unconventional and challenging designs-something both the X5 sketches and the E46 3 series can attest to.
The takeover of Rover proved to be very beneficial for BMW in the development of the X5. BMW engineers were able to look and use Range Rover technology and parts in the development of the X5-one such example would be Hill Descent Control. In many respects the X5 was also influenced designwise by its British counterpart; in this case the X5 got the two-piece tailgate straight from the Range Rover. Many parts and electronics were also taken directly from the E39 5 series parts bin to save costs.
In contrast to the Range Rover models, however, the X5 was designed as a sporting car. BMW reportedly worked hard to ensure it was referred to as an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) instead of an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle).
Even though the X5 was a four wheel drive vehicle, BMW chose from the start to route 60% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels, making it feel as close as possible to the company’s rear wheel drive sedans. Many reviewers commented on its road and track "feeling", and as time passed many other manufactures have caught onto this breed of SUV (e.g. Porsche Cayenne).
The X5 has been criticized for having low interior volume for its size-both the smaller BMW X3 and the 5 Series (Touring) have greater interior volume. The next generation X5 is rumored to rectify this problem.