The SUV that started it all almost 20 years ago has entered the fourth generation, after over 2.2 million units sold. This is the 2019 BMW X5, codenamed G05. The X family patriarch is once again made in USA and its market launch is in November this year.

The X5 has grown from the F15 generation that debut in 2013. Length is up by 36 mm to 4,922 mm, width by 66 mm to 2,004 mm and height by 19 mm to 1,745 mm. The wheelbase has been extended by 42 mm to 2,975 mm.

But more striking is the new looks, which is immediately recognisable as an X5, but differs enough to not be confused as a facelift. Combine the previous-gen X5 with the G01 X3 that was launched mid last year and you’ll pretty much arrive at the G05, except for one area – the back, which reminds me of Audi, or even Korean SUVs. Nothing derogatory there, just not very BMW perhaps. Note the character line that rises up at the rear doors – that’s new.

Up front, the new X5 gets an enlarged kidney grille with single-piece surrounds, which dominates proceedings. The X5 comes standard with Adaptive LED headlights, while BMW Laserlights are available as an option. The latter features blue x-shaped elements, which split up the hexagonal light sources inside the familiar twin headlights. Speaking of lights, the “third eye” independent fog lamp is no more, just like on the latest X3. Gone for good, it seems.

The X5 will be available in two lines, xLine and the M Sport you see here. The standard xLine model comes with kidney grill bars finished in matte aluminium, underbody protection, roof rails and side window surrounds in satin aluminium, plus other accents in pearl-effect chrome, to accentuate the SUV’s off-road character.

M Sport sees trim on the wheel arches, bumper, rear underbody protection and side skirts painted in body colour. The sportier option also gets high-gloss black for the window surrounds and roof rails.

The standard rim size is 19 inches in diameter, with M Sport bringing 20-inch twin-spoke wheels to the party. The G05 is the first BMW model to be available with 22-inch wheels, which can be had in M or BMW Individual flavours.

There will be four engine variants at launch – a V8 petrol engine for the X5 xDrive50i (not available in Europe), a six-cylinder petrol in the X5 xDrive40i and two six-pot diesels in the X5 M50d and the X5 xDrive30d. All the turbo engines feature the latest exhaust gas treatment tech, including a gasoline particulate filter or SCR catalyst, and meet the EU6d-Temp standard. An eight-speed Steptronic auto is standard.

Fundamentally upgraded from crankcase to engine management, the 4.4 litre V8 serves up “an intoxicating blend of prodigious power delivery and signature V8 soundtrack,” Munich claims. The turbochargers’ position in the ‘V’ between the banks of cylinders is one of the standout features, along with newly designed heat plates and a new ignition system that allows the engine to be restarted smoother and faster in auto start stop mode. With 462 hp and 650 Nm from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm, the X5 xDrive50i is good for 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.

The X5 xDrive40i’s 3.0 litre six-pot generates 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 5,200 rpm. It does the century sprint in 5.5 seconds, which is still plenty fast.

The xDrive AWD system gets a more efficient control system and rear-wheel bias as standard. A differential lock at rear axle provides noticeably enhanced agility, traction and directional stability when accelerating out of corners and in other dynamic driving situations, BMW says.

The G05 X5 is the first BMW X model with an optional Off-Road package. It consists of two-axle air suspension, underguards at both ends, plus specific displays in the instrument cluster and control display. A choice of four driving modes are available at the touch of a button – ride height and the responses of xDrive, DSC, the transmission and accelerator are adjusted to give an optimum set-up for driving on sand, rock, gravel or snow.

Dynamic Damper Control is standard, and new chassis systems available for the first time in a BMW X model include two-axle air suspension (offering ride height adjustment of up to 80 mm), Integral Active Steering and Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation.

The much improved and simplified dashboard sees the debut of the BMW Live Cockpit Professional display and control concept (standard fit). The iDrive operating system is linked to a fully digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch Control Display that can be operated by the controller, voice control or gesture control. The head-up display here is larger (now 7 x 3.5 inch), with optimised graphics and additional display content.

Available creature comforts include seats with massage function, four-zone climate control, heated armrests, cooled/heated cupholders, panorama glass roof (23% larger glass surface), Ambient Air package for interior fragrancing, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, rear-seat entertainment with 10.2-inch touchscreen display and new glass applications (optional) for the transmission selector, iDrive controller, start/stop button and audio control knob.

Wireless charging, BMW Display Key, updated ambient lighting with Welcome Light Carpet and Dynamic Interior Light with pulsating illumination in the instrument panel (when receiving incoming phone calls) and in the door panel and opener (when the door is opened with the engine running) are also available. Also possible are “over the air” software upgrades and integration of Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business.

For driver assistance systems, it’s a complete suite. There’s Driving Assistant Professional with further developed Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Warning and Lane Departure Warning, side collision protection, evasion aid, Crossing traffic warning, Priority warning and Wrong-way warning. Emergency Stop Assistant – which brakes the vehicle automatically if required, and steers it to the side of the road – is available for the first time.

The X5 can be had as a five-seater or with two extra seats to make it seven, with electrically forward-tilting second-row seats. Optional Comfort Access allows for hands-free opening and closing of both sections of the two-piece split tailgate, and thees’s also a neat powered cargo cover that stows itself under the boot floor. Boot capacity can be increased from 645 litres to 1,860 litres with seats folded.

Impressive tech, but what do you think of the new X5’s looks?