The 2017 BMW X5 M is far from being an ordinary premium midsize crossover SUV. In fact, it’s almost miraculous how BMW’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 mph in a mere 4 seconds flat. You could buy a regular X5 for thousands less, but for those who simply won’t settle for second place, the X5 M is BMW at its finest.
What’s New for 2017?
The iDrive infotainment system has been upgraded to version 5.0, with touchscreen functionality and updated navigation. The optional Executive package now has wireless smartphone charging and Wi-Fi. And a leather-covered dashboard is now available.
What We Like
What We Don’t
Questionable value relative to the regular X5
The X5 M has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that develops 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 in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in combined driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 BMW X5 M ($99,795) comes as a single well-equipped model.
Standard features include 21-inch wheels, keyless entry/ignition, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, adaptive cruise control, a rear air suspension, quad tailpipes, an M body kit, adaptive xenon headlights, LED fog lights/taillights, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate with hands-free operation (via a foot sensor in the bumper), front and rear parking sensors, hill-descent control, a performance-themed instrument cluster with a high-resolution color driver information center, a power-adjustable steering wheel with paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, adjustable drive settings (Driving Dynamics Control), 18-way heated front sport seats with memory settings, leather upholstery, quad-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a widescreen 10.2-in touchscreen, navigation and hard-drive MP3 storage.
The optional Executive package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, soft-closing doors, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, Wi-Fi, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear sunshades. Additional options include 20-in wheels, an automated parking system, a rear-seat entertainment system with twin 9.2-in screens, and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
A Driver Assistance Plus package brings advanced safety features (see Safety section below).
Cargo capacity runs to 23 cu ft. behind the rear seats and 66 cu ft. with they’re folded down. That’s good for a compact crossover, but the X5 is midsize, so we expect a bit more. Even so, that’s still quite a bit of versatility in something with such massive performance talent.
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, blind spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. An infrared night-vision camera with pedestrian detection is also available.
The X5 M has not been crash-tested, but in government crash tests, the regular X5 earned the maximum of five stars overall, 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 compliant daily driving at the push of a button. It’s hard to beat this BMW as an all-in-one choice for driving enthusiasts.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 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.
2017 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.
2017 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.
2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR — Enjoys 550 hp from a supercharged V8 with a track-tuned chassis that complements it right down to the finest detail.
2017 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.
This is as good as the X5 gets from a performance point of view, bearing in mind that even the lowliest X5 is seriously talented. If the price and styling work for you, there’s nothing else to worry about. We would advise buyers to budget for those extra safety features, though.