BMW's X5 has gotten smart. Really smart.
The German automaker is showing off the latest version of its X5 SUV and touting its cool features.
In addition to heated and cooled cup holders and four-zone air conditioning – yes, that's a thing – the luxury automaker is also offering new off-road and high-tech comfort controls for a smooth ride even on gravel.
The X5 is among four models made at the Greer, South Carolina, plant, with the X3, the X4 and the X6. Later this year, the plant will add its fifth and largest SUV to the plant's production line, the X7.
Since its introduction to the international car market 20 years ago, the X5 has been produced exclusively in South Carolina. All told, 2.2 million of the SUVs have sold worldwide, according to the company. So far in 2018, the plant has produced more than 76,000.
Here are the five ways BMW hopes X5 will stand out.
1. Off-roading in luxury
An off-road package is offered for the first time in a BMW X model.
It includes under-body protection, a two-axle air-suspension system that self-levels automatically for riding comfort (picture an electrically driven air compressor for each wheel) and an anti-spin rear-wheel differential lock that provides differing grip for the left and right back wheels.
The differential lock uses an electric motor to redirect torque from the faster-turning wheel to the slower-turning wheel, which prevents wheel spin. The off-road package has an extra button on the center console to select among four driving modes, which control the vehicle’s ride height, accelerator response, transmission control and stability control on a range of surfaces, such as sand, rock, gravel or snow.
2. Rear wheels that steer
Optional "integral active steering" allows drivers to turn the SUV's rear wheels in either the same direction as the front wheels or the opposite direction, depending on the vehicle's speed.
"It optimizes cornering agility, ensures effortless lane changes and helps the vehicle to dart through city traffic," BMW says. "Integral Active Steering therefore makes light work of maneuvering into and out of tight parking spots, while also increasing stability when overtaking at highway speeds."
3. Idiot-proof steering
The optional Driving Assistant Professional feature includes extended hands-off time in traffic jams and a lane-keeping function with active side collision protection.
The Automatic Lane Change feature is available during highway driving. It works by holding an indicator in the desired direction. If sensors detect enough space in the adjacent lane and no other vehicle approaching at high speed, steering assistance kicks in. An evasion aid also helps avoid collisions when cars or people suddenly appear in the driver’s path:
The X5 detects when the driver starts an evasive maneuver, and the system helps the driver steer into a clear adjacent lane.
4. Fool-proof parking
Sensors at the front and rear also help with parking. The X5's optional Parking Assistant Plus enables automatic selection and use of parallel parking spaces.
"These parking spaces are detected by ultrasonic sensors as the vehicle passes them," BMW says. "The system then takes care of the acceleration, braking, steering and gear changes necessary to maneuver into the space."
5. Back-up brain
The new X5's Back-up Assistant helps drivers leave a parking space or maneuver in tight areas. That is, the car takes over backward steering to guide the vehicle up to 55 yards – mirroring the path most recently used in the forward direction, according to BMW. Drivers initiate the system by pressing a button when the vehicle is in park.
The X5 also has a speed limit information system that drivers can engage to match the vehicle’s cruise control speed with the road’s posted speed limit.
Finally, the X5 offers the new emergency stop assistant system. Intended for when a driver is suddenly incapacitated, drivers activate the system by pulling an electric parking brake switch. Depending on the situation and surroundings, the system will bring the vehicle to a standstill in the current lane, at the edge of the road or on the shoulder while also activating hazard lights and placing a call to the BMW Assist center.