Over the years, I have driven and reviewed the BMW X5 several times and always found it to be enjoyable. When my test vehicle was delivered to me, I jumped in it to make a quick trip around the block before doing my research. As soon as I hit the street, I kicked it hard, and said to myself “what the Hell IS this thing?”
BMW calls it an SAV, Sport Activity Vehicle. I call it the baddest SUV I have ever driven. You may recall I had the 510-horse Range Rover just last week, so it was an easy comparison and I will tell you these two SUVs are nothing alike, although both are extremely fast.
This was the X5 M, (M stands for Motorsports) and I would never have imagined what a difference the M-designation made. X5 came out in the United States in 2000 and they made the first M-series in 2010. There were a couple of changes in the X5 M for 2015, including a new 8-speed automatic transmission and about a dozen extra horses.
For the real meat of this beast, let’s start under the hood, where you find a 4.4-liter V8 that is putting out an amazing 567-horses with 553-pound feet of torque, thanks to superb use of not one, but two turbochargers. All X5 Ms are all-wheel drive, which can shift 100% of the power to either the front or rear wheels. You will need the all-wheel system to keep the huge tires from busting loose. This BMW hunkers down and just goes when you stomp on it. The guttural sound from the huge engine is amazing as you accelerate from 0-to-60 in 4 seconds flat.
The other amazing thing about the X5 M is the handling. I liken it to a Porsche car, something along the lines of a Carrera. You get zero sway or lean in a tight turn. I took some turns so fast and so hard, I would never believed you could do it with an SUV, and there was not as much as a tire squeal.
With that said, to maximize the amazing handling, you have to learn how to operate the Dynamic Damper Control system. You’d better be in Sport Plus mode to put this 5200 pound SUV through the paces. Other choices, depending on how you want the M to perform, are Sport and Comfort modes, and you affect the suspension and steering to suit. I can only imagine that the longer you drive this SUV, the better you get at learning this system.
The interior of the X5 M is stunning. My tester is Long Beach Blue, which is a bright blue, with a tan interior. The seats are extremely comfortable, with 18-adjustments including power leg extensions. You operate everything from BMW’s Connected Drive system that is displayed on a 10” color screen. You get all sorts of real-time info, you operate the climate control and sound systems from there, and the X5 comes standard with navigation system, voice activation, and Bluetooth. You can even surf the Internet. A dial in the center console allows you to choose from multiple systems on the screen. The 3-spoke M steering wheel is exceptional and BMW-made carbon fiber adorns the interior, and it looks terrific.
The X5 is the flagship BMW, and it has a surprising amount of front seat room, back seat room, and cargo area. A panoramic moon roof is standard equipment as is the Alcantara headliner that surrounds it. Everything you would expect is standard on this SUV including a beautiful set of 21” wheels that are unique to the M. This vehicle also has one of the best front and rear camera setups I have seen, and it has an overhead view that is nothing short of amazing.
My review vehicle has two option packages, the Driver Assistance Package which gets you blind spot warning and Active Driving Assistance. ADA warns you if you stray out of your lane, and will detect pedestrians at lower speeds and will even stop itself. This will set you back $1900.
For $4500, you get the Executive package which adds a heated steering wheel, soft closing doors, rear window shades, front air conditioned seats, heated rear seat, and a heads-up display that projects your speed onto the windshield.
Of course a vehicle that tops out at 159-miles per hour needs special braking ability, and you can’t help but notice the massive front brake rotors. Looking at the exterior, you’ll see too, that it has a two-piece power tailgate, and in the front you’ll see huge air inlets to help the big V8 get more wind.
So far so good, right? Two things bother me about this vehicle, and they are serious enough that I would have to think hard before purchasing one. First, there is no park button on the transmission and learning how to put it into park is difficult and frustrating. It also seems needless to have to go to so much trouble just to park.
The other is the operation of the Connected Drive system to do basic functions. It is improved from the old BMW i-Drive system, but still cumbersome, and it doesn’t need to be in this day and age. The learning curve for the system is extensive. Granted there are a lot of functions, but most vehicle systems are easier to operate.
Those two issues aside, you have to love the horsepower, the exterior and interior appearance, and the way this SUV handles. I have no complaints on the price either; it is in line with SUVs that compete with the X5 M. High performance SUVs are pretty rare, especially one like this that tops out at 159 miles per hour. As you would expect, the massive engine comes at a price that you’ll pay at the pump.
I should note the X5 M will tow 6500 pounds, and it is not available with a 3rd row seat.
What I liked most: Handling and horsepower, plus it looks great.
What I would change: As noted, the lack of park and the controls.
MSRP: Base price $98,700. As equipped $106,550.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 14 City/19 highway/16 combined.
Odometer reading when tested: 1500 miles.
Weight: 5200 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 192” long/78” wide/67” High.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 22.4 gallons.
Towing Capacity: 6500 pounds.
2015 BMW X5 M in a few words: The Ultimate Driving SUV for speed demons.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, with roadside assistance, and complimentary free scheduled maintenance for 4-years/50,000 miles.
Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Manufacturer’s website: BMW