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2015 BMW X5 M: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2015

No one truly needs a 5,260-lb crossover SUV with a 567-horsepower V8 engine that can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds flat. But if you're shopping for a luxury crossover and want the best, the 2015 BMW X5 M is BMW at its finest. It's almost miraculous how the automaker's vaunted engineers have transformed a bulky utility vehicle into a performance machine that only a select few sports cars can outrun. You could get a regular X5 for tens of thousands less, but for those who simply won't settle for second place, the X5 M is virtually guaranteed to please.

What's New for 2015

The 2015 X5 M is an all-new model.

What We Like

Blistering acceleration from twin-turbo V8; incredibly capable handling for a crossover; sumptuous cabin with comprehensive tech features

What We Don't

Questionable value relative to regular X5

How Much?

$99,650

Fuel Economy

The all-wheel-drive X5 M features an 8-speed automatic transmission and a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that churns out an absurd 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the regular X5 xDrive50i at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with its 445-hp version of the same V8. The X5 M is estimated to be roughly 20 percent less efficient due to its higher output and more aggressive tuning.

Options and Standard Features

The 2015 X5 M comes in a single trim level with almost all the fixings.

Standard features include 21-inch wheels, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, a rear air suspension, quad tailpipes, an M body kit, adaptive xenon headlights, LED fog lights and taillights, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate with hands-free operation (via a foot sensor in the bumper), front and rear parking sensors, a performance-themed instrument cluster with a high-resolution color driver information center, a power-adjustable steering wheel with paddle shifters, driver memory settings, adjustable drive settings (Driving Dynamics Control), 18-way heated front sport seats, leather upholstery, 4-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio, a USB port, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and BMW's iDrive infotainment system with a widescreen 10.2-in display, navigation and hard-drive MP3 storage.

The optional Executive package adds LED headlights, soft-closing doors, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear-window sunshades. Additional options include smaller 20-in wheels, an automated parking system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Rear-seat comfort in the X5 M is satisfactory, though we still wish that BMW would position the X5's rear bench a bit higher for Land Rover-grade outward visibility. The regular X5's optional third-row seat is unavailable in the M, and that's a pity, because three seating rows would make this BMW a truly singular beast.

The current X5 is a bit of a letdown in terms of cargo capacity, providing 23 cu ft. behind the rear seatbacks and 66 cu ft. with those seatbacks flipped forward. That's good for a compact crossover, but the X5 is a midsizer, so we expect a bit more. Still, considering the massive performance on tap, that's a lot of versatility.

Safety

The X5 M comes standard with stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (with automatic collision-preparation) and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain).

The optional Driver Assistance Plus package includes a 360-degree parking camera system, a blind spot monitor and lane departure warning. You can also specify an infrared night-vision camera that detects pedestrians in dimly lit areas.

Behind the Wheel

For the most part, the 2015 BMW X5 M borrows the regular X5's dashboard and control layout. Materials quality is excellent, and the dashboard has a sleek, modern look. The X5 M also adds a number of special standard items, such as extended leather trim inserts and remarkably comfortable sport front seats with 18-way power adjustments. Furthermore, there's a unique M-spec gauge cluster with performance-oriented displays, as well as a sport shift lever that mimics the one found in the M3 sedan.

Cabin technology is top-notch in the current X5, and the X5 M gets the cream of the crop, coming standard with the widescreen 10.2-in display and the touchpad-enabled iDrive controller. BMW also throws in a premium Harman Kardon 16-speaker audio system that's optional on lesser X5 models. If that's not enough, spring for the 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system with its superior power output and clarity. At this price point, a few extra grand is arguably worth it for the peerless road-trip sound quality you'll get.

On the road, the 2015 X5 M won't let you forget how large it is, but it's also astonishingly capable thanks to its adaptive dampers, active roll stabilization and enormous performance tires. You can even activate a special M Dynamic Mode in the stability control system for tail-out cornering (BMW suggests that full-on drifts are possible in the hands of skilled drivers). Of course, shoppers in this segment expect comfort, too, so those adaptive dampers can be toned down at the press of a button for compliant daily driving. It's hard to beat this BMW as an all-in-one solution for driving enthusiasts.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW X6 M -- It might seem odd to recommend basically the same vehicle with less cargo space, but the X6 M offers a sleek fastback roofline that'll turn more heads.

2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo -- While the X5 M can keep up with the Cayenne Turbo in a straight line, our money's on the Porsche once the going gets curvy.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG -- The AMG-tuned ML is a bit unwieldy during twists, but it's a freight train when going straight.

Used Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG -- A new G63 costs about twice as much as the X5 M, but if you poke around, you can find a nice low-mileage truck with some serious depreciation.

AutoTrader's Advice

The one thing that gives us pause about the X5 M is the regular X5 xDrive50i, which has a similar twin-turbo V8 that's pretty thrilling in its own right. Is the M version worth another $20,000-$30,000? We suggest driving both back-to-back to see how you feel.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 BMW X5 M: New Car Review - Autotrader