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2018 BMW X5 M: New Car Review

The 2018 BMW X5 M is the high-performance variant of the company’s premium midsize SUV/crossover. Yes, that same high-class vehicle seen in the parking lots of pricey supermarkets has a version so hot, so well-tuned that it wouldn’t be out of place on a race track. You could buy a regular X5 (reviewed separately) for thousands less, but the X5 M is a testament to BMW’s engineering prowess.

It’s almost miraculous how the company’s technicians have transformed a bulky utility vehicle into something only a few sports cars can outrun. This is a 2.5-ton machine that can sprint from standstill to 60 miles per hour in a mere four seconds flat. To experience this kind of acceleration and still feel completely secure is something the enthusiast who also has a family should try out.

What’s New for 2018?

The previously optional Driver Assistance package has been incorporated into the Executive package. And the once-optional leather-covered dashboard is now standard.

What We Like

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

What We Don’t

Questionable value relative to the regular X5; Apple CarPlay is optional; Android Auto isn’t even available

How Much?

$102,695

Fuel Economy

The X5 M has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine developing 567 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic is the sole transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 14 miles per gallon city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 BMW X5 M ($102,695) comes as a single well-equipped model.

Standard features include 21-inch staggered-width wheels with high-performance tires, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, rear air suspension, quad tailpipes, M body kit, adaptive self-leveling xenon headlights with cornering lights, LED fog lights/taillights, panoramic sunroof, roof rails, powered liftgate with hands-free operation (via a foot sensor in the bumper), front and rear parking sensors, performance-themed instrument cluster with a high-resolution color driver information center, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/ignition, rain-sensing wipers, hill-descent control, power-adjustable steering wheel with paddle shifters, adjustable drive settings (Driving Dynamics Control), rearview camera, heated/18-way power-adjustable front sport seats (each with memory settings), extended leather upholstery including a leather-covered dashboard, quad-zone automatic climate control, ambient cabin lighting, self-dimming rearview mirror/driver’s-side exterior mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio, USB port, 16-speaker/600-watt Harman Kardon audio system and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-in touchscreen, satellite/HD radio, navigation, real-time traffic updates and hard drive MP3 storage.

The optional Executive package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, wireless smartphone charging, Wi-Fi, power-closing doors, head-up display, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear sunshades. This package now includes many driver assistance features, such as side-view/top-view cameras, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, semi-automated parking system and speed limit warning.

Additional options include 20-in wheels, rear seat entertainment system with twin 9.2-in screens, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, infra-red night vision camera, a day’s tuition in high-performance driving and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Cargo capacity runs to 23 cu ft. behind the rear seats and 66 cu ft. when they’re folded down. Which would be great for a compact crossover, but the X5 is midsize, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a little more. Even so, that’s still quite a bit of versatility in something with such massive performance talent.

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 X5 M has not been crash tested, but the regular X5 earned the maximum of five stars overall in government crash tests, with five stars each for front and side impact tests, and four for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the regular X5 top scores for the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, and for the optional collision mitigation system.

Behind the Wheel

For the most part, the X5 M follows the regular X5’s dashboard and control layout. Quality of materials is excellent and the dash has a sleek, modern look. It also adds a number of special standard items, such as extended leather trim inserts and remarkably comfortable sport front seats with 18-way power adjustment. There’s also an M-spec gauge cluster with performance-oriented displays.

Cabin technology is top-notch, 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 level, a few extra grand is arguably worth it for the peerless sound quality.

Rear-seat comfort is satisfactory, although we still wish BMW would position the rear bench a bit higher for Land Rover-grade outward vision. The regular X5’s optional third-row seat is unavailable in the M.

The X5 M is astonishingly capable, thanks to adaptive dampers, active roll stabilization and enormous performance tires. A special M Dynamic Mode in the stability control system allows tail-out cornering (BMW suggests full-on drifts are possible in the hands of skilled drivers). Shoppers in this segment also expect comfort, so those adaptive dampers can be softened for daily driving at the push of a button. It’s hard to beat this BMW as an all-in-one choice.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 BMW X6 M — It might seem odd to recommend essentially the same vehicle with less cargo space, but the X6 M offers a sleek fastback roofline that’ll turn more heads.

2018 BMW X5 xDrive50i — Has a similar twin-turbo V8 that’s thrilling in its own right and is much less expensive than the M version. Test drive both back-to-back to see how you feel.

2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo — While the X5 M can keep up with the Cayenne Turbo in a straight line, the Porsche will edge away when the going gets curvy.

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR — Now bristles with 575 hp from a supercharged V8, plus a track-tuned chassis that complements it right down to the finest detail.

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S — The AMG-tuned GLE is endowed with a mighty 577 hp. Also available in "Coupe" form.

Used Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG — A new G 63 costs about twice as much as the X5 M, but you might find a nice low-mileage example with some serious depreciation if you search around.

Autotrader’s Advice

Anyone who has their mind and heart set on an X5 M won’t hear any protests or warnings from us (except for the obvious "obey the law and drive safely" requests), but we do advise spending the extra $6,100 for the Executive package.

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