2015 BMW X5 M Expert Review

Editor's Overview

The 2015 BMW X5 SUV may not ride as smoothly as an Audi Q7 or Lexus RX 350, but when it comes to sheer performance, only the Porsche Cayenne can give it a run for its money. Be it the efficient diesel model or the hyperactive M, the X5’s fun-to-drive factor is ever-present.

You'll Like The 2015 BMW X5 M If...

If you’re looking for an SUV that handles more like a sleek sports sedan, BMW’s X5 SUV for 2015 is about as good as it gets. Be it the torque-heavy xDrive35d diesel or the tire-smoking M, the X5 offers a wide variety of performance options and pricing.

You May Not Like The 2015 BMW X5 M If...

If you’re looking for a softer ride and a lower price tag, you may be happier shopping the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 or Infiniti QX70. Those needing a roomy 3rd-row seat might prefer the Mercedes-Benz GL or even a full-size Cadillac Escalade.

What's New

For 2015, the high-performance X5 M rejoins the BMW lineup. Other than some minor equipment changes and a 1-mpg increase in the xDrive50i’s city fuel-economy rating, there are no major changes to BMW’s 2015 X5 SUV.

Interior Features

The 2015 BMW X5 has seating for five across two rows. A 3rd-row seat is optional and increases passenger count by two, but room in that last row is very tight. Legroom is good in the first two rows, and the front seats are especially comfortable and spacious, even for adults with large frames. The 2nd-row seats fold in a 40/20/40 configuration, handy for fitting long items like skis down the middle. BMW's latest iDrive with touch-pad controller is easier to figure out, and the main controls for climate and audio are fairly intuitive. Poplar wood trim adds warmth to the cabin.

Exterior Features

When we first laid eyes on BMW’s X5 SUV from a distance, we thought we were looking at its smaller brother, the X3. It turned out to be an illusion, and a good one. Though dimensionally the same size as the previous generation, the 2015 X5's fresh design makes it appear sleeker and less bloated. In front, BWM's famed "kidney" grille design now flows into the headlight housings, while the X5's rear is the first of the brand to feature "Aero Blades," which channel air for better aerodynamics. Pragmatically, the X5 comes with roof rails and a 2-section tailgate.

Driving Impressions

With four engine choices, BMW’s X5 for 2015 offers varying degrees of thrust and fuel consumption. And rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD). The entry-level X5 employs a turbocharged inline-6 capable of propelling it to 60 mph in just under 7 seconds. Opt for the V8, and you’ll get 445 horsepower, a $70,000 price tag and a bigger fuel bill, while the M version is even more powerful and thirstier. For our taste, the perfect compromise is the xDrive35d turbodiesel. Offering no sacrifice in performance but the best fuel economy of the lot, the diesel model costs only about $1,500 more than the gasoline-powered xDrive35i, yet delivers so much more in the way of passing and pulling power. All X5 SUVs for 2015 deliver superb handling on wet and dry pavement and a taut ride that sometimes is a bit too firm to be labeled “comfortable. “

Pricing Notes

The 2015 BMW X5 has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $53,750 for the rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i. The all-wheel-drive xDrive35i starts at $56,050, and the diesel-powered xDrive35d at $57,550. The V8-powered xDrive50i is priced at $69,150, while the X5 M comes in just a hair over $100,000. Adding packages and options can swell these prices by thousands. At its base price, the BMW’s X5 SUV for 2015 is a few thousand dollars above the slightly smaller Mercedes-Benz M-Class and about $10,000 below the 7-passenger GL-Class. Other competitors come in several thousand below the X5, including the Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60 and QX70, Acura MDX, Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne. It is, however, below a Range Rover Sport. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The X5's predicted resale value is expected to remain very good.

Notable Equipment

Spend the least on a 2015 BMW X5 sDrive35i, and you'll find plenty to like, but a few things are still missing for your roughly $54,000. Making the list are 10-way power and heated front seats, a panoramic moonroof, navigation with a 10.2-inch high-res screen, a power tailgate, a power-adjustable steering column, a 9-speaker audio system with HD Radio, and xenon adaptive headlights. Unexpectedly, leather seating and a rearview camera cost extra. The top-line X5 xDrive50i models add the leather and rearview camera along with 19-inch wheels and luxurious, 20-way power front seats. Four years/50,000 miles of complimentary maintenance is also standard.

Notable Options

Whether you want a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats or a night-vision assist system, options and packages come in abundance for the 2015 X5. To start off the configuration process, BMW offers three optional "lines" – Luxury, xLine and M Sport. The first two bundle aesthetic upgrades and 19-inch wheels, while the M Sport adds performance-oriented features such as steering-wheel-mounted gear shifters and launch control for high-speed takeoffs. Our ears were very pleased with the up-level harman/kardon 600-watt/16-speaker sound system. Those craving extreme sound can get it in a Bang & Olufsen system boasting 1,200 watts.

Favorite Features


The 2015 BMW X5’s user-friendly infotainment system is displayed on a predominant 10.2-inch screen. This setup not only makes it easy to see and operate the various icons, it provides a crystal clear picture from the available rear camera.


Words will never do the X5’s steering justice, but we’ll do our best. Quite simply, if you love to drive, the direct feel and instantaneous turn-in served up from behind the wheel is unlike anything in its class. For a big SUV, BMW’s 2015 X5 truly offers the ultimate driving experience.

Under the Hood

Four turbocharged engines are available in the latest X5: a gasoline- or diesel-powered inline-6, and two V8s offering 445 horsepower (xDrive50i) and 567 horsepower (X5 M). All are connected to a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. In an effort to be more fuel-efficient, X5 SUVs have a start/stop function that shuts down the engine at idle, such as at stoplights. The system is quick to restart the engine once you lift your foot off the brake pedal, but we found ourselves just as quickly disabling this functionality due to its intrusiveness when abruptly roaring the engine to life. Like other BMWs, X5 models with gasoline engines require premium-grade fuel.

3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (sDrive35i and xDrive35i)

300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm

295 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (RWD), 18/27 mpg (AWD)

3.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-6 (xDrive35d)

255 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm

413 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-3,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg

4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (xDrive50i)

445 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm

479 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg

4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (X5 M)

567 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm

553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA

Editors' Notes

As in the beginning, BMW chooses to market its X5 for 2015 a “sports-activity vehicle” or SAV for short. We’ll just stick with SUV, as the X5 isn’t really any more capable than a comparably equipped Porsche Cayenne or Mercedes-Benz M-Class. However, when it comes to the “sport” part of the equation, the X5 quickly moves to the head of the class. Fresh from a complete overhaul last year, the 2015 BWM X5 SUV delivers an excellent combination of room, performance and economy. And, although it can’t tackle rugged off-road terrain like a Land Rover Range Rover Sport or even the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the X5 leaves no doubt which luxury SUV is the master of the paved road.

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