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BMW Marks 25 Years of the X5 with Special Off-Road Edition

BMW X5 Silver Anniversary Edition

Ah, BMW, the “ultimate driving machine,” but not necessarily a brand that leaps first to mind for rough-road prowess or as an overland platform. In fact, the BMWs we tend to cover on Expedition Portal have two wheels, not four. However, the Bavarian brand was among the first to stake a claim in the burgeoning luxury crossover SUV market in the early 2000s with the original X5. BMW is celebrating 25 years of its OG SUV with the launch of the North American-built BMW X5 Silver Anniversary Edition.

The first-gen X5, known to Bimmer-philes as the E53, benefited from sharing some off-road technology and engineering with the L322 Range Rover, like hill descent control and basic off-road driving modes (BMW had acquired Land Rover in 1994). Equipped with rear-biased AWD (no low range) and an available V8, the unibody X5 was definitely a road-oriented truck, but with 7.1 inches of ground clearance, it wasn’t far off from the Range Rover’s 8 inches. Over the generations, the X5 grew more and more luxurious and less and less capable off-piste, but BMW looks to nudge the pendulum back in the other direction with the Silver Anniversary Edition.

Sharing most of its primary componentry with other X5s (like the 375 horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission), the Silver Anniversary Edition adds a range of trail-focused equipment and tech. The tech package is called xOffroad, and is not currently available on other X5s. Depending on the terrain, the driver can choose from a range of off-road modes via the Driver Experience control switch on the center console. The system adjusts the vehicle’s ride height, transmission shift strategy, throttle mapping, traction control, and other variables. The ride-height function is controlled by two-axle air suspension, and the X5 Silver Anniversary also benefits from a mechanical locking rear differential and increased underbody protection.

Also included is a unique xOffroad view in the main display that shows metrics like ground clearance, roll tendency, and inclination. This is paired with a 360-degree camera system showing terrain around the vehicle at speeds up to 22 mph. A high-capacity roof rack, increased ground clearance, and factory tow hitch add to the utility, and General Grabber A/T tires are a dealer-installed option. There’s no word on whether or not BMW has beefed up other driveline components like axles or differentials for more demanding off-road duty, but nobody is mistaking this X5 for a rock crawler. Its 7,200-pound tow rating, however, means that most modestly-sized adventure campers are in play for those who like to trailer their homes.

Befitting a 25th anniversary, the off-road X5’s only color option is bespoke silver paint (Lime Rock Grey, technically), along with special badging. Only 1,000 will be built.

$81,075 | bmwusa.com

Read more: Overland All the Things! :: From the Showroom to the Trail

Images: BMW

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Stephan Edwards is the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Contact him at edwards@overlandinternational.com and @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.