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2015 BMW X5 M REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Lacks regular X5's third-row option; X5 xDrive50i is much cheaper and not that much slower.

Interior: The X5 M's interior layout carries over the elegance and quality of the standard cabin, but there's a thick layer of sport on top. The heavily bolstered and sublimely supportive front seats are among the first clues that you're driving something special, an impression confirmed by the M instrument cluster with its performance-themed readouts. The joystick-like shift lever mimics BMW's twin-clutch "DCT" automated manual, though in fact it's hooked to a revised version of the eight-speed automatic common to other X5s. Extended leather trim with dashboard inserts comes standard, as does a synthetic-suede (Alcantara) headliner. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single trim piece that looks or feels out of place.

On the infotainment front, the X5 M's 10.2-inch widescreen display boasts crisp graphics and quick responses, and the iDrive interface is more user-friendly than ever these days, providing a reasonably intuitive menu structure and a handy new controller with touchpad functionality. Smartphone-app integration is part of the deal, and BMW's online services include an internal browser with access to Yelp reviews and recommendations. Still, we've found that iDrive often requires a few more clicks and twists than it should. The ML63 AMG's COMAND interface, for example, is generally simpler when executing common tasks.

Rear-seat legroom isn't as generous as the X5 M's ample dimensions would suggest, but it's adequate for a pair of adults. By the numbers, the cargo bay leaves something to be desired, too, though it has more than enough space for most typical real-world hauling jobs. The X5 M redeems itself a bit with its two-piece "clamshell" hatch, comprising a liftgate on top and a flip-down tailgate below that's perfect for parties.

Body: The 2015 BMW X5 M is a high-performance midsize luxury crossover with seating for five. It's offered in a single trim level.

Standard equipment includes 21-inch wheels with summer performance tires, sport-tuned adaptive suspension dampers, a rear-axle air suspension, active roll stabilization, a torque-vectoring sport differential, special M brakes, adaptive xenon headlights, power-folding and auto-dimming heated side mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate with a foot sensor, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, quad-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, extended leather upholstery, heated 18-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver and front-passenger memory settings, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks and a synthetic-suede headliner.

Cabin technology highlights include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-inch central display screen and a touchpad-equipped controller, online services (including weather and news), smartphone-app integration, a navigation system, voice controls, real-time traffic updates and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

With all of that included as standard, the X5 M has a modest options list for a BMW, starting with just two packages. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a variety of advanced safety features (see "Safety," below), while the Executive package throws in adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam control, power-closing doors, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and manual rear-window sunshades.

Stand-alone options include 20-inch wheels, aluminum-look exterior trim, an automated self-parking system, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin 9.2-inch screens.

Driving: As of this writing, we've only experienced the 2015 X5 M at rest, but stay tuned for full impressions and testing data as its spring 2015 launch approaches.

What’s New: The 2015 X5 M is an all-new model.

The all-wheel-drive 2015 BMW X5 M is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 rated at 567 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with launch control.

According to BMW, the X5 M can sprint to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than the mighty Cayenne Turbo.

Safety: The 2015 BMW X5 M comes standard with stability and traction control, high-performance antilock brakes with automatic drying, hill-descent control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

Also standard are the BMW Assist eCall and BMW Remote Services emergency communications systems, which provide automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote lock/unlock, a smartphone app with remote vehicle functions and on-demand emergency response via an SOS button.

The optional Driver Assistance Plus package bundles active blind-spot monitoring, a side- and top-view camera system, lane-departure warning and speed limit info. The X5 M further offers an infrared night-vision system with pedestrian detection.

Specific crash tests of the X5 M hadn't been performed as of this writing, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the standard X5 its top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

Pro: Astounding performance; comprehensively equipped; upscale interior with excellent fit and finish.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 BMW X5 M delivers near-supercar acceleration and everyday practicality, though it's a questionable value compared to lesser X5 models.

Introduction: The 2015 BMW X5 M is for everyone who's driven the regular V8-powered X5 xDrive50i and said, "445 horsepower? Meh." In other words, only true connoisseurs of speed (you know who you are) will fully appreciate its appeal. Most power-hungry shoppers should be plenty impressed by the xDrive50i's turbocharged V8 engine, which gets you to 60 mph in an estimated 4.9 seconds. But the X5 M's modified, 567-hp version of the same V8 conjures up 60 mph in 4 seconds flat, and there's certainly nothing "Meh" about that.

Per usual for BMW's M performance division, the X5 M's got more going on than just an engine upgrade. Other exclusive features include a sport-tuned automatic transmission with launch control, a uniquely permissive M Dynamic Mode for the stability control system, huge staggered-width 21-inch wheels, beefy brakes and an M-specific adaptive suspension. In addition, the X5 M comes with the usual assortment of styling upgrades, highlighted by larger front air intakes, twin-stalk side mirrors and quad tailpipes. Inside, you'll find perks like snugly bolstered M sport seats, a stubby M shift lever and a performance-themed instrument cluster, enhancing what was already one of the finest cabins available.

It all adds up to one cool crossover, though you'll have to decide whether the X5 M's swagger merits spending many thousands more than you would on an xDrive50i. You'll also have to do without the third-row seat that's offered on lesser X5 models, as the M is strictly a two-row proposition. If you're unfazed on both counts, we can't think of any other reason to hold back. Not many vehicles combine practicality and pure aggression like this BMW, and while styling is always subjective, we think those 21-inch wheels give it a muscular stance that its siblings just can't match.

Rivals in this rarefied segment are few but equally impressive. The X5 M is actually a bargain compared to the 2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, but we suspect the Porsche offers sharper handling characteristics. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is certainly the most ponderous-handling SUV of the bunch, but it's built like the proverbial tank. Another new entry this year is the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, which pumps out 550 horses of its own courtesy of a supercharged V8. It would be a privilege to own any of the above, but the new 2015 X5 M is off to a very promising start.

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