by Jared Rosenholtz
If you want one of the fastest and best-driving SUVs on the market, the BMW X5 M deserves to be on your shopping list. The trouble is, you weren't able to buy one new in 2019 as the model took a break following the reveal of the fourth-generation X5. But BMW hasn't wasted any time developing a successor and the 2020 X5 M has now arrived with more power than ever before.
As with the previous generation X5 M, this new third-generation model is powered by the same twin-turbocharged V8 engine found in the M5 sedan. It arrives on the scene along with an all-new X6 M Sports Activity Coupe, looking to go toe-to-toe with the fastest SUVs on the market.
The M Division has made sure you will be able to distinguish the X5 M from a standard X5. It features larger front air intake openings in the bumper to feed additional air to the coolers along with M-specific BMW kidney grilles with black double-bars. Other changes include body-colored flared wheel arches and a rear diffuser with integrated quad exhaust tips.
In case you don't notice any of those changes, the M badges plastered all over the exterior will remind you this SUV is something out of the ordinary. The whole look is capped off with a rear roof spoiler on the stock model and a lower tailgate spoiler on the Competition model. X5 M models also benefit from aggressive 21-inch M light-alloy Double-Spoke wheels or optional staggered 21/22-inch wheels on the Competition model. If you can't tell you are looking at an X5 M, you may need to have your vision checked.
The X5 M's cabin won't feel alien to anyone who has been in a standard X5 but the M Division has added some special touches to make it stand out. You will immediately notice red M buttons on the steering wheel as well as red, white, and blue M stitching. The M multifunction seats are more aggressive than what you'd find in a standard X5 while still retaining most of the comfort. A Black Extended Merino Leather interior comes standard but a Full Merino Leather interior with a variety of color options comes standard on the Competiton model (or optionally on the regular X5 M).
BMW Live Cockpit Professional running the latest iDrive 7 operating system comes standard and adds some special M touches. For example, the head-up display can now show shift lights and has locations for two widgets including a G-meter, tire pressure/temperature monitor, engine coolant temperature, and boost pressure. Competition models add a Track setting, which only shows the bare amount of information on-screen and dials back the driver-assist systems.
Can you ever have too much power? The answer is no if you are asking the BMW M Division. The X5 M is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 called the N63, which produces 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque in its base output. This is enough to rocket the X5 M up to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds using an eight-speed automatic transmission linked to a special-branded xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The X5 M Competition boasts 617 hp and a 0-60 mph time of just 3.7 seconds. Both SUVs will hit 155 mph or 177 mph with an optional M Driver's Package.
Most of the power is biased towards the rear with power only being sent to the front when necessary. This was done to keep the X5 M feeling like a proper M car despite its tremendous size and weight. BMW has also given the X5 M 100 mm tailpipes with electrically controlled flaps, providing an enticing exhaust growl. The flaps can be controlled via an M Sound Control button on the dashboard, with Competition models benefiting from an even louder M Sport Exhaust system.
BMW has priced the X5 M at $105,100 increasing to $114,100 for the X5 M Competition (plus a $995 destination fee). This makes it significantly more than the next-best X5 (the M50i), which costs $82,150 and produces 523 hp. As of now, Mercedes has yet to introduce the latest generation GLE 63 AMG, giving the X5 M the advantage of coming to market first. Until it does, the X5 M's closest competitors are either far more expensive or far cheaper.
The X5 M's most direct competitor is the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which costs $126,500 and produces "only" 541 hp. When you factor in options, the Porsche is even less of a value compared to the BMW. The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is much more powerful than the X5 M with 670 hp on tap, though it costs $161,900 and only beats the BMW to 60 mph by a tenth of a second. Although we wouldn't call it a direct competitor, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk offers 707 hp at a cost of only $87,150. At least for now, the X5 M is a solid middle-ground option in the niche luxury performance SUV segment.