November 6, 2020

2020 BMW X5 M Is Like Barrel-rolling A Jetliner

2020 BMW X5 M Is Like Barrel-rolling A Jetliner

One of my favorite videos is of pilots barrel-rolling a prototype of what became the Boeing 707 – a four-engine jetliner designed to cross oceans over performing dog-fight maneuvers.  But, there it is, that big bus of an airplane, going belly up in its own private airshow.  It’s not meant to do it, but it’s still pretty cool.  Much the same is true of the BMW X5 M Competition.  It’s a big heavy all-capable SUV that just happens to maneuver like a smaller road jet.

Angry Sinister Style

It is a big beast, adorned with flared nostrils, black trim, bulging sheetmetal, and 21/22-inch wheels front/rear.  Tires look wide enough to be under a NASCAR racer instead of a tall SUV body that would normally be seen dropping kids off at Boy Scouts – not normally what you see slamming down straightaways on track days.  But, there’s no denying the M Competition package looks sinister.  Flash that twin-kidney smile in a rearview mirror on the Interstate and there is near instantaneous movement to the right lane.

Interiors are more Lear than Lockheed.  Up to five voyagers ride comfortably inside a cabin with layers of quilted leather, carbon fiber trim, and dual-pane sunroof.  Heated and ventilated front seats with adjustable massagers cozy your body no matter the weather.  Even the armrests, rear seats, and steering wheel are heated.  The sueded headliner is especially lush.  Drivers appreciate a head-up display and flatscreen gauge cluster. 

Plug in to the deep Bowers & Wilkins audio system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and wireless device charging.  BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with console joywheel still bedevils me, but gesture recognition lets you twirl your fingers in the air to adjust volume or advance tracks.  Conjuring navigation directions is not as easy, but it gets you there.  Only a jetliner has more guidance systems.  The X5 comes with adaptive cruise, forward collision alert with city collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning.  Rear cross traffic alert and a herd of around-view 3D cameras do their parts too.

Booms Like A Fighter

Putting a boom in this air show is a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 dishing out a staggering 617 horsepower and 533 lb.-ft. of torque.  That’s enough to propel the big wagon from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds on the way to a 177 mph top speed.  You’ll almost need turbines to feel similar performance elsewhere.  An eight speed automatic transmission and launch control enables these shenanigans.  Fuel economy is rated like it’s 1969 at 13/18-MPG city/highway.  This thing needs a couple of wings just to store gas.

Stalking runways, the big crossover enjoys hauling fast.  It has talent to back its looks, which tell grandmas and newbie drivers to stay clear.  Personalizing performance, dynamic dampers allow drivers to adjust the suspension from pleasantly smooth in “Comfort” to reasonably firm in “Sport” and ready to pound pavement in “Sport+”.  All-wheel-drive tames poor weather and all that torque while rear steering helps drivers aim this heavy beast like it’s a bus half its size.

There’s nothing like taking a big, powerful conveyance and using it like it’s a much smaller toy.  Thanks to a powerful engine and chassis technology, the hefty X5 M will have you tap-dancing down the road – and enjoying the drive wherever you fly.  You’ll think you’re buying a plane when you see the price:  Base X5s lift off from $59,400, but leveled out at $128,245 for our rich cocoon.  Competitors include the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and Maserati Levante.Trofeo.

Storm Forward!

Send comments to Casey at; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.


2020 BMW X5 M Competition

  • Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
  • Powertrain: 4.4-liter TTV8, 8-spd trans
  • Output:  617hp/533 lb.-ft. torque
  • Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 21”/22” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Luxury, Thrust
  • 0-60 mph: 3.8s
  • Top speed: 177 mph
  • Fuel economy: 13/18 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Spartanburg, SC
  • Base/As-tested price: $59,400/$128,245
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