And the new X5 is designed to nail that core

Despite its push to advance autonomous and semi-autonomous driver aids, not to mention alternative powertrains, BMW says the new X5 is primarily focused on the driving experience.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the secret unveiling of the X5 in South Carolina last month, the car's project leader, Johann Kistler, said one of its primary focus areas was how it makes the driver feel.

The fourth-generation X5 brings a host of new features designed to make it the most comfortable model to date, while blessing it with the handling chops to make it the most dynamically competent as well.

Electronically-controlled dampers will be standard equipment across the range, with the option for air suspension which, like the X7, will now be available on both axles. In the X7, the system delivers 80mm of height adjustment and a superbly comfortable ride – as we found out – which is likely to carry over to the X5.

From a handling perspective, the X5 features a more advanced electronic system allowing for integral active steering, or active steering with rear-wheel steering, and electronic anti-roll bars offering active roll stabilisation.

“This is a car with two tonnes [of weight], to drive the car and feel the steering, you shouldn’t feel the weight, the size of the car,” Kistler told us.

“One of the key targets was really driving experience, [for it to] be a BMW... the steering should be like a BMW customer likes it and the comfort has to be in the car [as well].”

Kistler, who was also project lead on the new 5 Series, says the dynamic work on the X5's lower-riding siblings indirectly informed the changes to the fourth-generation SUV.

“Driving experience is the core of BMW. Yes, of course we have to have hybrid and we have to look for driver assistant systems, so BMW is always challenging the future and to have the best technical options in the car, but from my point of view driving experience is really important and we have to bring it to the customer,” he explained.

The new BMW X5 is ‘at least’ 95 percent new compared to the outgoing model. It shares a great deal of its underpinnings and technical capabilities with the upcoming X7.