Used 2016 BMW X5 M Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2016 BMW X5 M delivers near-supercar acceleration and everyday practicality in an aggressively styled package designed for those who want a little bit of everything from their luxury SUV.




Vehicle overview

By and large, the modern SUV puts an emphasis on the "utility" portion of its name, while any pretense of "sport" is quietly ignored and left to wither. Although BMW does a good job of giving its X5 a more dynamic road feel than the disconnected ride of other luxury SUVs, buyers moving from a sporty car to the family-friendly crossover may find the driving experience lacking. Luckily for them, there is a leather-clad SUV with seating for five and corner-carving credentials: the 2016 BMW X5 M.

The most potent version of the "normal" X5 is the xDrive50i, which boasts a 4.4-liter turbocharged engine with 445 horsepower. Claimed 0-60 mph time is 4.7 seconds, a good time for a big people hauler. The X5 M ups the ante with 567 hp, a power boost that reduces the sprint from zero to 60 mph to a flat 4 seconds. Although that means the X5 M is a hair quicker than the illustrious M4 sports car, in real-world driving, the X5 M and the xDrive50i don't feel worlds apart on the acceleration front.

Luckily, upgrading to the M version adds more than just horsepower. Also included are 21-inch wheels, massive brakes, an adaptive sport suspension with body roll control and unique body styling. The X5 M also adds 18-way sport seats and a shift knob shared with other M cars. There are a few downsides, as the X5 M has a very sensitive gas pedal that makes it difficult to pull away from a stoplight without rocketing forward. The ride is also a bit harsher than the normal X5. And the third-row seats available on other X5s cannot be ordered on the X5 M, although to be fair, no other vehicles in the hot-rod midsize SUV class offer three rows of seating anyway.

Rivals in this segment are few but impressive, which is a given considering the hefty price of entry. The 2016 Porsche Cayenne Turbo also offers superb handling dynamics but is more expensive, especially when the long options list comes into play. The 2016 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 is a heavily refreshed version of last year's ML63, and features a flawless interior and lustworthy exhaust note. The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR is another solid choice, although cargo space behind the rear seats is limited. Even against these tough competitors, though, the X5 M shines through. It really is that good.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 BMW X5 M is a high-performance midsize luxury crossover with seating for five. It's offered in a single trim level.

Standard equipment includes 21-inch wheels with summer performance tires, sport-tuned adaptive suspension dampers, a rear-axle air suspension, active roll stabilization, a torque-vectoring sport differential, special M brakes, adaptive xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding and auto-dimming heated side mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate with a foot sensor, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, adaptive cruise control, ambient interior lighting, quad-zone automatic climate control, hill-descent control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted paddle shifters, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, extended leather upholstery, heated 18-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver and front-passenger memory settings, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks and a synthetic-suede headliner.

Cabin technology highlights include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-inch central display screen and a touchpad-equipped controller, online services (including weather and news), smartphone-app integration, a navigation system, voice controls and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

With all of that included as standard, the X5 M has a modest options list. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a variety of advanced safety features, while the Executive package throws in adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam control, power-closing doors, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and manual rear-window sunshades.

Stand-alone options include 20-inch wheels, aluminum-look exterior trim, an automated self-parking system, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 9.2-inch screens.



Performance & mpg

The all-wheel-drive 2016 BMW X5 M is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 rated at 567 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with launch control.

In Edmunds performance testing, an X5 M sprinted from zero to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than the mighty Porsche Cayenne Turbo. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway).

Safety

The 2016 BMW X5 M comes standard with stability and traction control, high-performance antilock brakes with automatic drying, hill-descent control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

Also standard are the BMW Assist eCall and BMW Remote Services emergency communications systems, which provide automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote lock/unlock, a smartphone app with remote vehicle functions and on-demand emergency response via an SOS button.

The optional Driver Assistance Plus package bundles active blind-spot monitoring, a side- and top-view camera system, lane-departure warning and speed limit info. The X5 M further offers an infrared night-vision system with pedestrian detection.

In Edmunds testing, an X5 M required just 104 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is an impressively short distance for an SUV.

Driving

The turbocharged V8 requires no coaxing to overcome the X5 M's hefty 2.5-ton mass. The slightest pressure on the extremely sensitive throttle triggers explosive acceleration. This can be fun when you're showing off for your friends, but aggravating most other times. Still, few cars at any price can match the X5 M in a straight line.

BMW's X5 M is also nearly unmatched when going around turns. The steering is quick, and the X5 M grips so tenaciously that few drivers will ever reach its limits on public roads. You would have to take it to the track to fully enjoy the benefits of the massive summer-performance tires, giant brakes, adaptive suspension and rear-biased all-wheel drive with torque-vectoring technology. The X5 M delivers the sort of vehicular physics that aren't normally associated with SUVs of this size, which is an admirable engineering accomplishment. We just aren't certain that the ability to smoke sports cars at Laguna Seca is offset by the downgrade in everyday drivability from the normal X5. Even with the three-mode adaptive dampers in their most comfortable setting, the ride is extremely busy.

On the bright side, the cabin is hushed from wind and road noise at cruising speeds, but the tires are quite vocal when traveling over rough pavement.

Interior

The X5 M's interior layout carries over the elegance and quality of the standard cabin, but there's a thick layer of sport on top. The heavily bolstered and sublimely supportive front seats are among the first clues that you're driving something special, an impression confirmed by the M instrument cluster with its performance-themed readouts. Extended leather trim with dashboard inserts comes standard, as does a synthetic-suede headliner. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single trim piece that looks or feels out of place.

On the infotainment front, the X5 M's 10.2-inch widescreen display boasts crisp graphics and quick responses. The iDrive interface is more user-friendly than ever these days, providing a reasonably intuitive menu structure and a handy new controller with touchpad functionality. Smartphone-app integration is part of the deal, and BMW's online services include an internal browser with access to Yelp reviews and recommendations. Still, we've found that iDrive often requires a few more clicks and twists than it should. The GLE63 AMG's COMAND interface, for example, is generally simpler when executing common tasks.

Rear-seat legroom isn't as generous as the X5 M's ample dimensions would suggest, but it's adequate for a pair of adults. By the numbers, the cargo bay leaves something to be desired, too, though it has more than enough space for most typical real-world hauling jobs. The X5 M redeems itself a bit with its two-piece "clamshell" hatch, comprising a liftgate on top and a flip-down tailgate.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.