2020 BMW X5 M Competition Review - Ridiculousness

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2020 BMW X5 M Competition

4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (617 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,690 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
13 city / 18 highway / 15 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
N/A city, N/A highway, N/A combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$114,100 (U.S) / $124,500 (Canada)
As Tested
$128,245 (U.S.) / $141,500 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,580 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

Ridiculousness is a word – I checked. And it describes the vehicle I am about to tell y’all about perfectly.

Ya see, the BMW X5 M Competition is a perfectly fine luxury crossover that BMW decided needed a bit more spice. Never mind that the X5 has generally been one of the sportier of the lot (sporty being a relative term when applied to these types of vehicles, of course).

Just how ridiculous is this thing? Let’s start with the 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 producing 617 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Those are fairly insane numbers for a luxury crossover, even one bearing the BMW roundel.

If you think those numbers are insane, just wait until you see the price.

As noted above, the X5 has generally been relatively fun to drive, at least for what it is. So it won’t surprise you when I tell you this thing had no problems merging or passing, or that the handling was nice and sharp, at least relative to this size and weight of the vehicle (over 5,400 pounds!). Without major sacrifices in ride quality.

Nor is luxury sacrificed, as we’ll see in a minute.

Design, though, well….

The good news is that the X5’s overall shape has remained mostly the same over the years, with minor changes, and it’s not a bad look. But the big-grille disease that has infected BMW is present here – that maw is gaping.

Big is the theme here – the wheels are 21s upfront and 22s outback, and the X5 just looks bigger and somewhat less sleek than it did in years of yore.

Inside, the dash is cohesive – BMW has integrated the infotainment screen into the center stack well, without resorting to the tacked-on look that raises my hackles so much. Trapezoidal shapes dominate. My biggest beef concerns too-small buttons for audio and HVAC, and while iDrive is much, much better than it was in days past, it still requires a lot of menu use for certain functions. I’d wager that in some situations, you’d be able to use certain functions more quickly with a button press.

Functions, features – there are many. The options list is long and just shy of the price of an entry-level hatchback. We start the proceedings at $114,100 – including the M Competition package. Normally, the X5 M would start at $105,100, but BMW labels the Monroney oddly. See below.

The blue paint – that’s Tanzanite Blue II metallic, to you – is $1,950 alone. Add the Driver’s Assistance Pro Package (extended traffic-jam assistant, active-driving assistant pro) for another $1,700. The Executive Package will run you $3,600 and adds remote start, soft-close automatic doors, rear manual side-window shades, heated and cooled cupholders, front cooled seats, front and rear heated seats, front massaging seats, and adaptive LED lights.

But wait, there’s more! We haven’t gotten to the M Competition Package yet. That adds an M Sport exhaust system, 21-inch front and 22-inch rear light-alloy wheels, M seat belts, extended shadowline trim, and Alcantara headliner. It’s a $9,000 package, but somewhat confusingly, it was included in the base price on the Monroney sticker of the X5 I tested. This is why I listed the base price at $114K – because I typically work off the Monroney of the car I tested. Hopefully, you’re still with me.

If you are, we’re still not done. Thirty-four hundred more bucks gets you the Bowers & Wilkins sound system. An M Driver’s Package is another $2,500 (higher top speed, a one-day pass to driving school).

Features listed as “included” on the window sticker include Bluetooth, enhanced USB, active park distance control, surround view, roof rails, keyless entry, heated front-seat armrests, panoramic moonroof, four-zone climate control, carbon-fiber trim, parking assistant plus, Apple CarPlay, drive recorder, wireless charging, navigation, gesture control, Wi-Fi hotspot, and satellite radio.

Some of those things – heated front-seat armrests! – also read as ridiculous, but I suppose if you have the $128,245 (including $995 in destination and delivery fees) to pay for this bad boy, you might as well treat yo self.

Frankly, if you like to drive and be coddled, the X5 M Competition is a treat. The V8 has a nice grumbly growl, the ‘ute is actually fun to drive while still mostly comfortable during more sedate motoring, and you get a slew of luxury features.

The problems are price, fuel economy (13/15/18), and polarizing styling. That big grille doesn’t bother me as much as the engorged openings common to current BMWs bother some of you, but it looks dorky compared to past X5s.

I’d also want some bigger buttons in the cabin.

The X5 M Competition is a slightly better all-around package than other swift luxury SUVs I’ve tested like the Maserati Levante GTS and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It also doesn’t borrow from the parts bin of “lesser” brands like those vehicles, both under the FCA (soon to be Stellantis) umbrella, do.

It’s hard to find fault with the X5, if you have the cheddar. But it is, in a word, ridiculous.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Aja8888 Aja8888 on Jan 17, 2021

    It's just another BMW,....and no one cares what you drive.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jan 17, 2021

    These always strike me as trying too hard. I want a big car...no bigger...I want 500 hp..no 600 hp....gimme 21 inchers. When these came out, I had been invited to a "Drive the ///M series event". BMW threw the event at a local retreat, and we were allowed to drive two M for 30 minutes. After we were given a talk by a guy from ///M, so I asked (this is about ten years ago) why M was building a truck...they'd just come out with an M series X5. His reply was that "many of our best customers had another company's build in the garage...we saw no reason why they should spend the money elsewhere when they like us to start with" (The Porsche Cayenne had just come out)...and then "but it had to hit all the numbers the M3 could before we'd put it out there" I'm sure they make a lot of money on each one...the frame is mass market, they just lard on ICE-big motor, and some throwaway custom trim. No real enthusiast buys this to drive. You could buy a decent Benz/Audi AND a used vette or Porsche for the same money. Seems useless to use this on the school run or to go to the big box, which is what they will do...as the guy from M said, why let another car company soak up that lucrative sale ?

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.
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