2020 BMW X5 M Competition Review

The authoritative performance SUV


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: More power than humanly necessary, shockingly adroit for something this heavy, premium cabin is rife with sporty luxury.
Negatives: Priced to kill, affluent owners won't exploit its capabilities on the track, interior could be toned down a bit, harsh ride.
Bottom Line: The X5 M Competition is too much of everything, which is why we love it. Luxurious, insanely fast, and technologically brilliant, it's only for buyers who like excess and lots of it.
The preponderance of high-performance luxury SUVs is getting out of hand, really. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Range Rover Sport SVR, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, Maserati Levante, and the list goes on. Vehicles weighing in excess of 5,000 pounds nailing 0-60 times as fast as some supercars comes across as overkill. Frankly, we're not sure how we feel about them since they provide rapid thrills but lack the verve and feel of lighter, lower performance automobiles. This one might take the cake. The X5 M Competition is excessive in just about every way. We drove this six-figure steed for a week to see if it could win us over. Read ahead for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

9.2

 

Although we didn't get to exploit its insane capabilities, it's hard not to appreciate the sheer power and agility of of something this big and heavy. More than just a fast SUV, the X5 M Competition is a serious performance vehicle. But in all seriousness, who is going to take this thing to the track?

Ride Quality: The X5 M Competition feels like bank vault on wheels, and it has the ride to match. It's sports car firm, and you feel everything on the road. It's not unpleasant, but it's no Lexus.

Acceleration: The powerful twin turbo V8 and rapid shifting M Sport transmission make insanely quick work of the 0-60 sprint, getting there in 3.7 seconds or as quick as the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. This is face-pulling power.

Braking: The M-tuned brakes are strong and progressive. They bring the 5,093-lb X5 M to a stop quickly and with no mushiness or dead spots in the braking process.

Steering: The X5 M Competition has good but not great steering. It's sharp and precise, but it's a bit overboosted, which gives it an artificial feel.

Handling: The M adaptive suspension and Active Roll Stabilization are masterful at handling the size and mass of the X5 M. It corners surprisingly flat, and it feels remarkably balanced with minimal understeer. It can emerge out of hard turns very composed and can take more than your skills can likely deliver.

Technology

8.9

 

BMW has finally reached the pinnacle of its iDrive system in terms of look, feel, and operation. There's a lot of technology in the X5 M, but it all works very well.

Infotainment System: The huge 12.3-inch screens for infotainment and the instrument cluster are excellent with vivid colors and crisp graphics and fonts. Menus are simple and easy to execute with the center console control knob and buttons. The Live Cockpit Pro also works incredibly well. The head-up display is also easy to read and ideal for when speeds rack up and you need eyes on the road.

Controls: Action and grip of the knurled knob are superb, and the steering wheel controls, shift knob, and paddle shifters work with precision and ease.

Styling

8.7

 

While we wouldn't call the X5 M beautiful, it has a ton of presence with its lower stance, powerful creases, huge wheels, and massive black grille. It's the best the X5 has looked in two generations, and it the looks inside and out match the colossal price tag. Only the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio will turn more heads.

Front: We're glad the grille isn't as big as the one on the 7-Series (or the upcoming 3 and 4 Series cars), but it's still a large maw. The huge intakes match the grille nicely, and the partial hexagon LED light signature is a nice touch.

Rear: The booming quad exhaust pipes and the notched roof spoiler dominate the back end. We also like the thin LED strips in the taillights.

Profile: In darker paint colors, the X5 M Comp looks stealthy thanks to the absence of chrome and the body colored trim. It's also very well-proportioned.

Cabin: The interior looks truly high-end with two-tone seats and premium materials everywhere, including big sections of carbon fiber in the dash and center console. The seats are a bit overdone, but they look purposeful.

Comfort

8.9

 

The interior of the X5 M is a plush cabin you'd expect from a six-figure premium vehicle. There's ample room for five, and the environment is definitely upscale for all occupants.

Front Seats: Big and comfortable, the front seats have excellent cushioning and bolstering. Adjustability is also top notch.

Rear Seats: The rear seats have solid legroom (37.4 inches) and headroom for three. Six-footers can easily sit behind six-footers in front. The rear seats also have good cushioning and support.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin quality is excellent with no creaks or noises. Sound deadning is also superb, but you can hear the awesome engine and sport exhaust.

Visibility: The large windows and manageable pillars, as well as the excellent seating position, allow for good sightlines all around.

Climate: A responsive climate control system, as well as great heated/ventilated seats ensure comfort in all seasons.

Safety

9.2

 

The X5 nails crash test and safety technology all around. It did particularly well with the IIHS. BMW has given the X5 M a huge suite of premium safety tech, pretty much right for something this big and fast.

IIHS Rating: The X5 on which the X5 M Comp is based gets the Top Safety Pick+ rating, getting "good" in every crash test, as well as "superior" in accident avoidance.

NHTSA Rating: The X5 attained four stars out four out of five stars.

Standard Tech: The X5 M Comp has a premium set of standard safety features including front and rear Head Protection System, Active Driving Assistant w/ Frontal Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Detection, and Active Park Distance Control w/ 3D view Surround Cameras.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the Drivers Assistance Pro Package which adds semi-autonomous driving capability. It also came with traffic-jam assistance that adds lane-centering assistance to adaptive cruise control and the ability to steer for the driver at speeds below 40 mph.

Storage/Cargo

8.5

 

The X5 M Comp might not qualify as a beast of cargo burden, but it doesn't shy away from hauling and storing. We found its utility everyday practical and useful.

Storage Space: The armest is decently sized, and the center console compartment is good for smaller items. Door pockets are also good. The cooled/heated cupholders are an extra-fancy feature.

Cargo Room: The X5 M has 22.95 cubic feet with all seats in place and 66 cubes with the seats folded flat. It's about on par with the Audi Q7. The load floor is very flat, and it keeps its width all the way through, which is ideal for larger items. The opening is also ample.

Fuel Economy

5.3

 

Better add some budget for fuel on this monster. It's thirsty as hell, especially when you drive it the way we did. If you hammer it at the track, we have no doubt the mpgs would dip into the single digits. Yep. Heavy foot will pay.

Observed: 15.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 105 miles.

Audio

9.2

 

The $3,400 Bowers and Wilkins surround sound system is ridiculously good with huge power and clarity. It's a great sound system, but the price tag is steep. We'd suggest sticking with the excellent standard Harmon Kardon surround sound system, but who's counting when the X5 M Competition's price tag is about the cost of a decent two-bedroom condo?



Final Thoughts

There's nothing humble about the X5 M Competition. It takes the already powerful 600-hp X5 M to 617 horses and adds performance capability on top of an already seriously capable performance SUV. This is clearly the case of excess in just about every way. If you can only choose one vehicle for driving thrills and to tote the family around, you can do way worse than the X5 M Competition. You just can't really do much more expensive than this unless you move up to the Bentley Bentayga or the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. If you want more power, you have to go up to the 641-horsepower Lambo Urus. The X5 M will astound, impress, and outdo just about all else.
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