The third-generation BMW X5 was introduced nearly three years ago and it will apparently have a pretty short lifecycle as the fourth-generation model has just been spied for the first time.

Caught undergoing cold weather testing, the highly camouflaged prototype appears to be an evolution of the current model as it is roughly the same size and shape as the outgoing crossover.  This isn't terribly surprising as the X5 is one of BMW's best-selling models and the company doesn't want to mess with a successful formula.

Despite having a familiar design, the next-generation X5 will ride on a new platform that will be shared with a variety of other models including everything from the 3 Series to the X7.  The new platform will use a combination of aluminum and high-strength steel so we can expect the model will be significantly lighter than its predecessor.

Powertrain options are a little hard to pin down at the moment but speculation suggests the crossover will be offered with an assortment of four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines.  We can also expect to see another plug-in hybrid variant as well as a high-performance model from BMW M.

The next-generation BMW X5 is expected to be introduced in 2018 and it is slated to be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Gallery: 2018 BMW X5 spied for the first time

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