From 1996 to 2006 BMW produced the BMW E53, its first mid sized luxury crossover SUV and the first generation of the BMW X5. The E53 SUV was developed at a time when BMW owned Land Rover and the E53 shared many components and systems, including Off Road Engine Management system and the Hill Descent System, with the Land Rover Range Rover L322. The E53 shared electronic as well as engine systems with the BMW E39 5-series including the, Navigation System, Radio Function, Television and Telecommunication systems. The result of this component sharing with other BMW and Land Rover models is that the early versions of the X5 and L322 can be, without any great difficulty, be upgraded with the latest in BMW system technologies.
2000 saw the beginning of development for mid-cycle updates that were scheduled for 2003. But late 2001 saw a radical update of the model, seeing an overhaul of the brand design theme. By 2002 the E65 2001 model’s unpopular design was replaced with a more conservative appearance that was more popular with consumers and production was scheduled for the 2003.
July 2003 saw the presentation of the X5 LCI (Life-Cycle Impulse) that was scheduled to begin production for 2004. At the September 2003 IAA (International Motor Show Germany), BMW presented the updated X5 engines and the new four wheel drive system. The show also gave a first look at the X5’s changed appearance with new headlights and new choice of exterior colors. The 2004 X5 appearance underwent several new updates before production started in Spartanburg Sep 2003:
– Flame surfaced style enlarged grills.
– Corona rings were installed around all four headlamp projectors.
– The tail lights and the exterior glass were changed from the previous dotted pattern to a clearer line pattern.
The new four wheel drive system was named xDrive and was shared with the BMW X3. The previous X5 system split the power 62-38, rear wheels to front wheels, and had DSC to brake wheels losing traction. The new xDrive system could vary the power distribution to the front or rear axel in milliseconds, making it possible to transfer 100% of the engines power to either axel. xDrive allowed the vehicle to maintain and regain traction impressively quickly.
The 2004 X5 was improved with the new 4.4i engine that had debuted in the 2002 7-series. The increase in power saw the X5 now pack in 315 hp. The X5 4.8is was also on the market by April 2004, offering a monstrous 355 hp to the driver and positioning it as the third fastest SUV. The X5 4.8is engine was later used in the 2005 750i/Li. The X5 4.8is included a new modified body kit. The bottom bumper now shared the same color with the body, 20 inch wheels, and a large chrome tipped exhaust that concealed the quad pipes. The 4.6is was the only other X5 to share this exhaust feature.
Several functional updates were also new to the 2004 X5:
– New boot close feature enabled the trunks top section to pull itself closed
– New trailer stability feature improved the function ability of the vehicle to tow trailers
– Xenon headlights that swiveled with the direction the vehicle moved.