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- Highs Jaw-dropping acceleration, shockingly athletic for its size, upscale cabin environment.
- Lows Ride will be too stiff for some, cost will be too pricey for most, don't even think of taking it off-road.
- Verdict Sports-car-worthy performance in a high-riding, high-luxe, high-priced SUV package.
If you're willing to shell out six figures for your ride, you can buy a cornucopia of thrills with the high-powered 2021 BMW X5 M. Based on the regular BMW X5 SUV, the M version is powered by a twin-turbo V-8 that's tuned to make up to 617 horsepower. It pairs with a velvety eight-speed automatic transmission and a transformative all-wheel-drive system that features a dedicated rear-drive mode. Despite its considerable curb weight, the high-riding Bimmer has almost the cornering grip and handling characteristics of the lighter and equally powerful BMW M5 sedan. However, the boxy SUV does provide a lot more cargo storage in its handsomely appointed interior. While some shoppers will find the 2021 X5 M's stunning acceleration and stiff ride too intimidating, others will revel in its ridiculousness.
What's New for 2021?
For 2021, BMW gives the X5 M some new standard features and removes several standalone options. Android Auto is now finally offered. It's standard along with a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio with 360L. The previously optional roof rails and exterior trim in satin aluminum, night vision with pedestrian detection, and the rear-seat entertainment system have been eliminated. BMW also changes the Competition designation from a model to a package.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd recommend spending the extra coin on the performance-enhancing Competition package. In addition to extra horsepower, it comes standard with a more boisterous exhaust system, an exclusive Track mode, and larger-diameter rear wheels and tires. It also brings even nicer leather upholstery and adds padding on the sides of the center console to prevent bruising your knee during hard cornering.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
A monster hides underneath the hood of every X5 M. The 4.4-liter V-8 lurking there has two turbochargers force-feeding it air so it can generate 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The Competition package adds another 17 ponies. Every X5 M utilizes an eight-speed automatic transmission and a variable all-wheel-drive system. The latter allows the driver to choose between maximum traction at all four wheels or added agility in the rear-biased track mode. A set of 21-inch wheels and adaptive dampers are standard equipment. However, those who want a staggered set of rollers with 22-inchers out back have that option, too. The bigger rear wheels are standard with the Competition package. Our drive of a Competition-equipped model impressed with sports car-like grip in the corners and eye-watering acceleration.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
It takes lots of fuel to make the kind of horsepower produced by the X5 M, and it shows in the EPA fuel-economy ratings. The X5 M delivers an estimated 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. We have yet to evaluate its real-world highway mpg on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of the X5 M is exquisitely appointed and outfitted with myriad desirable features. A 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster rests behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel that also hosts a pair of paddle shifters and red "M" drive-mode buttons. Ambient interior lighting, a large head-up display, a heated steering wheel and front armrests, and racy materials are all standard. Those who desire fancier leather upholstery, massaging front seats with heated and cooled cushions, heated rear seats, and more can add them for extra coin. There's no shortage of passenger space in the front and rear seats, and its cargo area is big enough to hold 11 carry-on suitcases behind the back row.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every X5 M has a loaded infotainment system and countless connectivity features. The company's iDrive software is displayed via a 12.3-inch touchscreen that can also be controlled by hand gestures, voice commands, and a rotary controller on the center console. While Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Harman/Kardon audio system are standard, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system is a standalone option.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 X5 M hasn't been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Along with standard driver-assistance technology, such as forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, the X5 M offers more optional assists. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW provides a competitive warranty that aligns with the limited and powertrain coverages offered by rivals such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz. While its complimentary scheduled maintenance isn't as great as Jaguar's, it's better than every other competitor.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
2020 BMW X5 M
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
X5 M, $106,095; X5 M Competition, $115,095
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
268 in3, 4395 cm3
600 or 617 hp @ 6000 rpm
553 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
Wheelbase: 117.0 in
Length: 195.0 in
Width: 79.3 in
Height: 68.9 in
Passenger volume: 106 ft3
Cargo volume: 34 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 5450 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.6–3.7 sec
100 mph: 9.0–9.1 sec
¼-mile: 12.0–12.1 sec
Top speed: 155–177 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 15/13/18 mpg