by Michael Butler
We are enjoying a golden age of high-performance cars in the US; from small hot hatchbacks to mega cars capable of breaking 300 miles per hour, there has never been a better time for lovers of cars, and the SUV class is no different. The BMW X5 M exemplifies the high-performance SUV with its bold styling, large wheels, and insane performance, all while offering good trunk and cargo space, and overall practicality. The latest X5 M receives even more power than the previous generation model, now making up to 617 horsepower via a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 in the case of the Competition model, and consequently a quicker zero-to-sixty sprint time. As always, the X5 impresses with an impeccably tasteful and luxurious interior that features all the modern tech you could ask for. It's safe, too, scoring a recent Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS. The X5 M goes up against the Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
The X5 M is all-new for 2020 and represents the third generation of BMW's high-performance X5 range. The new X5 M is more powerful and feature-rich than the outgoing model and offers restyled sheet metal, an improved interior, as well as better assistance tech. The new X5 M gets 33 more horsepower over the previous generation model, and features chassis upgrades such as stiffer engine mounts and strut bracing. The exterior features larger air intakes, a pronounced rear diffuser, and quad-exit tailpipes. There are a set of sporty bucket seats in the 2020 car, as well as assistive technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
In nature, animals such as the rhinoceros back up massive physical strength with the looks to match. This is exactly the case with the 2020 BMW X5 M: unlike its more pedestrian counterparts further down in the X5 range, the X5 M looks the part of a performance car. A dead giveaway is the front end, which consists of a massive blacked-out kidney grille atop a set of massive air vents. The Competition version highlights these elements even further with a gloss-black finish. The rear features an aerodynamic diffuser, M-specific roof spoiler, and quad exhaust exits. You'd best get used to this view if you're driving a Land Rover Range Rover Sport. The BMW X5 M rolls on a set of large 21-inch M double-spoke bi-color wheels wrapped in performance run-flat tires and gets power-folding side mirrors, along with high-gloss Shadowline roof rails and LED lighting front to back.
The 2020 BMW X5 M is classified as a mid-size luxury SUV and measures up in size to cars such as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. The total length of this performance SUV comes in at 195 inches, which is the same length as the GLE 63. The X5 M measures 79.3 inches in width, making it slightly wider than the Range Rover Sport in terms of dimensions. Height is measured at 68.9 inches. The X5 M makes use of a 117-inch wheelbase. With all those luxury features onboard, the X5 M packs on the pounds with a curb weight of 5,425 pounds. Weight is distributed 50.6/49.4 percent front to rear.
There's no denying the fact that the BMW X5 is a symbol of relative success, and people who buy them like to be seen in them. That is doubly true for X5 M drivers: these cars are large and in charge, and deserve to be adorned in strong colors that denote their performance potential. We've always thought that the X5 looks great in black, especially Carbon Black Metallic, but new owners can choose between ten different exterior colors, including Marina Bay Blue Metallic, Tanzanite Blue Metallic ($1,950), Manhattan Green Metallic, and Donington Grey Metallic. Whichever color you go for, there's no hiding the X5 M's muscles.
The performance of the 2020 BMW X5 M can be described in one word: brutal. This mid-size SUV doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to beating passengers in the face with raw speed and in-gear acceleration. Under the hood of the 2020 X5 M lies the same turbocharged V8 as found in the previous iteration, but this powerplant has been tweaked to deliver 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That's an increase of 33 hp over the last car. The result is a drop in the 0 to 60 mph sprint from four seconds to just 3.8, with the Competition variant dropping that time to 3.7 seconds thanks to its 617-hp V8. That is an impressive number for a sorted sports car, nevermind an SUV. Top speed arrives quickly, too. Both versions send power to all four wheels via the brand's M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Out and about, the X5 M hides its true nature well and is happy to cruise along in a civilized manner, but as soon as you push the throttle past the halfway mark, it comes alive in a big way and will force you into your seat in any gear. Highway cruising is an absolute pleasure, with the big V8 engine purring along at the speed limit.
The BMW X5 M doesn't pretend to be a reasonable family SUV, and the biggest reason for its rowdy behavior is the engine that lurks beneath the swooping hood. BMW squeezes a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 into each and every X5 M, which is a carryover from the previous model, but in the case of the 2020 car, gets a 33 hp power bump for a total of 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The X5 M Competition adds another 17 hp to the equation. Power is sent to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a variable all-wheel-drive system. As in other BMWs, the eight-speed auto is regarded as one of the best in the industry with its smooth, quick shifts. With this much torque on offer, in-gear acceleration is massive, and the fun doesn't stop there; this engine loves to pull right to the top of its rev range, and you can feel all 600 of those horses at play.
Manufacturers don't have any excuses left for building unwieldy and sloppy performance SUVs anymore, especially when you look at the likes of the Porsche Cayenne range of SUVs that offer handling close to that of their more traditional sport car companions. Fortunately, BMW knows how to make even big and bulky cars handle well. The 2020 BMW X5 M makes use of a number of fancy tech systems such as variable AWD with sporty RWD bias settings, as well as a sport-tuned differential and adaptive suspension to deliver impressive handling characteristics. Despite its curb weight of 5,425 pounds, the X5 M astonishes with its levels of mid-corner grip and sharp turn-in, but steering feel is vague for the most part, and even in RWD mode, understeer will start to creep in at the limit, unless you punch the throttle for oversteering action.
Feeding a 600-hp, 5,425-pound AWD twin-turbocharged V8 SUV takes a lot of gas, which shouldn't come as a surprise at all. Yes, you'll have to pay to play with the 2020 BMW X5 M. The EPA rates that this Germanic beast will use 13/18/15 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The hefty Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR manages slightly more economical gas mileage figures of 15/20/16 mpg, and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo will do 15/19/17 mpg. With a 21.9-gallon fuel tank, the BMW X5 M should have a maximum range of 329 miles.
The interior of the X5 M is simply stunning with a clean and flowing design and quality materials dominating the cabin. The cabin is also surprisingly airy and spacious despite offering less space than some rivals. The amount of tech on offer is also impressive: BMW includes a 12.3-inch digital cluster behind the grippy steering wheel, which includes paddle shifters. The interior is on par with premium offerings from Land Rover and Porsche, and we appreciate the sporty feel of touchpoints such as the bucket seats and meaty steering wheel. The simplistic dashboard is devoid of any unnecessary knobs and buttons, which adds to the classy feel of the space. Tech such as Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless phone charging keeps things current.
In terms of interior space, the BMW X5 M compares closely with the Range Rover. Getting in and out of the X5 M is easy thanks to its slightly raised ride height and wide-opening doors in the front, as well as the rear. Once inside, the front bucket seats offer the perfect balance between sporty support and long-distance comfort. The seats in the rear are also semi-bolstered. Five adult passengers will have no issue fitting in the X5 M. The headroom in the front is measured at 40.8 inches, while those in the rear get 38.7 inches. Legroom is a decent 39.8 inches in front, and 37.4 inches in the rear, while shoulder room comes in at 60 inches and 58.1 inches front to back.
As the top of the range X5, the X5 M is bedazzled in every premium luxury material you can think of. The seats are covered in standard Black extended Merino leather, with quilted center insets, and the dashboard is also covered in sumptuous leather. For the headliner, BMW has gone with an Anthracite Alcantara covering. There's a splash of carbon fiber to be found across the cabin, including around the air vents and shift knob. The cargo bay features full velour carpeting. The fit and finish feel class-leading, and we couldn't pick up any major rattles, even when driving over low-speed bumps and corrugated surfaces.
The X5 M offers enough trunk and cargo space to qualify it as a truly practical SUV and not just a performance car with a lifted ride height. That's perfect for those who are forced to buy an SUV for practical and family reasons, but also like to have some fun when driving. Behind the rear seats, you are offered a generous 33.9 cubic feet of space. That's enough to fit a medium-sized family's travel baggage to the airport without breaking a sweat. With the rear seats folded down, you get 72.3 cubic feet of space. The BMW dominates when compared to competitors such as the Porsche Cayenne, which only offers 27.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 60.3 cubic feet when folded. Small-item storage is adequate: there are medium-sized door pockets on offer, as well as a small center armrest cubby. Average-sized cupholders are to be found in the front and back.
Where to start? The 2020 BMW X5 M comes packed with all the latest gadgets and comfort features. We wouldn't expect anything less, really. The exterior features a power tailgate, LED headlights, and rear privacy glass, as well as a panoramic moonroof with power tilt and slide functionality. The interior is where the X5 M truly impresses: First off, the interior is decked out in carbon fiber, leather, and Alcantara, giving it a truly luxurious feel, and the 18-way power-adjustable seats with lumbar control also feature three-stage heating. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel offers power adjustability, and controls for infotainment and cruise control. Getting in and out of the X5 M is made easier through a keyless entry system, and the X5 M also gets a stop/start system with push-button start. Four-zone climate control keeps things temperate, as do the heated armrests and steering wheel. A Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging are some of the more advanced features on offer. Driver assistance features include frontal collision warning with city collision mitigation, lane departure warning, a surround-view camera with ParkAssist, and a head-up display. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display is standard.
What is a flashy modern luxury SUV without a banging infotainment system? BMW knows that the infotainment system plays a significant part in the overall user experience, and has made sure to include most of the modern amenities you'd expect from a car in this class. The massive 12.3-inch screen dominates the center of the dashboard. Menus are navigated via hand gestures, voice commands, or a rotary controller located next to the shift knob. Navigating this system is easy enough, and feels rather intuitive with clear images and graphics. The infotainment system also features HD Radio with multicast FM station reception, SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription, as well as Apple CarPlay integration. Android Auto will gradually be added to all BMWs via an over-the-air update. Sound is blasted through a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system that features seven tweeters, four midrange speakers, and two bass speakers. A 20-speaker Bowers and Wilkins system is an optional extra, as is a rear-seat entertainment package with dual seatback displays.
The standard X5 has been subjected to two recalls since 2019, which consisted of a defective backup camera and malfunctioning steering rack. In terms of reliability, BMW covers the 2020 BMW X5 M with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 12-year corrosion warranty, a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty, a three-year maintenance plan, and four years of roadside assistance.
Throwing a 600 hp engine into an SUV might sound like a recipe for extreme, raging fun, but it also adds to the risk of something going wrong. BMW has paid extra attention to the X5 range of cars to make them as safe as possible, and it shows in the crash-test reviews and results. The 2020 BMW X5 has been tested by both the NHTSA and the IIHS. In both cases, the X5 performed extremely well. The NHTSA awarded it with a rating of four out of five stars, and the IIHS awarded the standard X5 with its most prestigious Top Safety Pick Plus title in 2019. The BMW X5 M's reviews in terms of safety are impressive, giving it yet another advantage in the segment.
BMW has spared no expense when it comes to the safety equipment and systems onboard the 2020 X5 M. An advanced airbag system with a driver's and passenger's front airbag supplemental restraint system keeps all body parts in place. Front-side airbags and front/rear head airbags are standard as well. Further safety items encompass automatic high-beam LED headlights, adaptive brake lights, and traction control. All major driver assistance features are to be found in the BMW X5 M: there's active blind-spot detection, forward collision warning, city collision mitigation, a surround-view camera system, and lane departure warning. That's what it takes to offer class-leading levels of safety. Tech such as night vision with pedestrian assist is available as an extra-cost option.
We love how free-handed manufacturers are with horsepower these days, especially BMW, which generously endows its M cars with impressive power figures. The X5 M is a prime example of this: with 600 hp and AWD traction, this 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged brute will launch to sixty in only 3.8 seconds and stun you with its relentless power delivery. The X5 M is dynamically pleasing too, despite its 5,000-pound plus curb weight. There are tremendous amounts of grip, and corner exit speeds are explosive. We love the interior of the X5 M, which is upholstered in the finest leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber. The large 12.3-inch infotainment display is easy to navigate, and high tech features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless phone charging makes things even more comfortable. Trunk and cargo size is better than what you'll get in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and with a sterling safety record behind its name, the X5 M can be considered one of the best muscle SUVs in its class.
All that power, tech and luxury translates into a pretty serious base price of $105,100 for the standard model. If you have a real need for speed, the X5 M Competition adds more power and handling capability for an extra $9,000, for a total MSRP of $114,100. The base model costs nearly $10,000 less than the supercharged Range Rover Sport SVR and undercuts the Porsche Cayenne Turbo by a significant $21,400. BMW offers a healthy number of optional extras that will inflate the final asking price of the X5 M to over $130,000 depending on how much you add. The prices of the BMW X5 M models exclude tax, registration, and a destination fee of $995.
BMW's high-performance X5 M SUV is available in two flavors: extra spicy, and dynamite. The base model of the BMW X5 M Series range includes exterior features such as LED headlights with auto high beam assist, a power liftgate, rear privacy glass, as well as a power tilt and slide moonroof. Under the hood sits a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine which sends its power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The interior features 18-way power-adjustable seats, four-zone automatic climate control, Wi-Fi connectivity, and wireless phone charging, amongst other amenities. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen can be used to manage features like Apple CarPlay and SiriusXM satellite radio. Standard driver assistance systems include forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.
The X5 M Competition is a more serious proposition and includes features such as an M Sport exhaust system, a performance-tuned suspension and brake setup, as well as 21-inch front and 22-inch rear M Star-spoke bi-color wheels, along with a power bump up to 617 hp. The zero-to-sixty sprint drops down to 3.7 seconds from the standard model's 3.8 seconds.
BMW offers a good amount of optional extras for 2020. The base model can be equipped with the Driving Assistance Professional Package, which, for $1,700, will add active cruise control with stop & go, active lane-keeping assistant with side collision avoidance and automatic lane change, as well as cross-traffic alert. The $3,600 Executive Package includes front and rear heated seats, heated and cooled cupholders, as well as front ventilated seats and soft-close automatic doors, amongst others. The M Driver's Package allows you to get to know your car better at an advanced driving track day for $2,500. Individual options include night vision with pedestrian detection for $2,300 and a Bowers and Wilkins sound system with 20 speakers for $3,400.
With two trims on offer in the USA with varying specs, the choice you'll be facing is how hardcore do you want to go? The BMW X5 M is a dedicated performance car that happens to be able to carry five people in comfort, carry all their baggage, and deliver hair-raising performance. The Competition Package adds a hard edge to an already potent package, with more power and a slightly tweaked chassis. On paper, the difference between these two trims seems small, and to be honest, in the real world, the gap isn't that noticeable. For that reason, we would suggest you save your money by getting the standard car, and spending that extra money on the optional night vision, or the Bowers and Wilkins sound system for the ideal, fully-loaded configuration.
Since the day it went on sale, the Porsche Cayenne has set the benchmark for performance and handling in the SUV segment. Legendary Porsche dynamics are blended with the space and practicality of a handsome everyday SUV, and the end product has always been impressive. The 2020 Cayenne Turbo is powered by a 541-horsepower twin-turbo V8 that allows it to sprint to sixty in only 3.7 seconds. It is one of the quickest SUVs on the planet and handles better than anything its German rivals can throw at it. It's comfortable out on the open road and the 2020 model has an improved infotainment interface. The Cayenne Turbo does, however, lack a number of standard features that are found on the BMW and doesn't offer as much trunk space. We'd still go with the Porsche.
If you're into flashy daily drivers that can go like stink but also carry a lot of stuff - and go off-road with confidence - then you need not look further than the Range Rover V8 Supercharged SVR. This big Brit is powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine producing 567 hp. Power is sent to all fours via an eight-speed auto transmission. We love the refined engine and transmission setup that offers relaxed cruising, or explosive acceleration when the need arises. It's a comfy thing to drive, but not as sharp as the BMW in the corners. The cabin is second to none in terms of refinement and luxury, and despite all the glitz, the SVR can still conquer the mighty outdoors. Cargo capacity is average in comparison, however, and the infotainment system isn't as intuitive as the German's. We would go with the BMW in this case.