9 thoughts about the 2024 BMW X5 M Competition

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The 2024 BMW X5 M Competition is the M version of the X5, and it’s a worthy product of the Bavarian automaker’s performance division. At its heart is a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, plus a 48-volt hybrid assist motor incorporated into its eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s good for a wild 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, with BMW clocking the 0-60 sprint at a brisk 3.7 seconds. It’s got the sport-tuned suspension, beefy brakes and a host of visual upgrades to match. The result is an unnervingly potent luxury family crossover. It’s almost funny.

With the Competition being the only way into an X5 with the full M treatment — the next rung below it on the ladder for 2024 is the X5 M60i — I wondered about the balance between performance, comfort and utility. Some of BMW’s M cars can get a bit hardcore for daily driving (particularly when it comes to comfort), especially as you start appending words or letters beyond the M. With a starting price of $125,975 (including destination), I’d expect something pretty hot, but as an owner, I’d want to be able to use it comfortably as a primary driver.

With that in mind, here are nine thoughts after spending the better part of a week with an X5 M Competition in the driveway.

1. The right pedal has got some bite

There’s a whole lotta oomph with very little effort. The breathy V8 roars to life without hesitation. It’s almost too eager, with a casual tip-in eliciting a bit more snap than I’d like when trying to drive smoothly in traffic. It’s not a problem when you’ve got wide-open road ahead of you, though. After that initial punch off the line, the X5 M Competition continues to pull hard, taking you to exciting speeds with an appropriate amount of fanfare.


2. It'll get squirrelly on ya

With so much immediate power on tap, followed by more power quickly heaped on top of it, the V8 can almost outrun the rest of the car’s capabilities. It can overcome the grip of the tires, and create a lot of momentum. As such, powering through a corner gets interesting quickly. It’s not a car you can just mash the throttle, crank the wheel and expect everything to end up rosy. There’s a rawness in potency here that requires skill and/or caution. Of course, there’s more power than you need, but that’s part of the fun, so long as you're smart about it.


3. The transmission is positively engaging

The transmission is a blast to interact with when you put it in manual mode and use the paddle shifters. It adapts smartly to how you’re driving and how you’re using the accelerator. It shifts quickly under a lot of throttle, snapping off crisp gear swaps that keep the excitement at a maximum. Drive a little calmer, though, and it shifts more slowly and smoothly when you pull the lever; it doesn’t rush to the next gear, but instead provides a seamless shift that doesn’t translate into a jolt inside the cabin. Of course, your drive modes will affect the shift logic, but the behavior for each is appropriate and entertaining.

4. It provides a beautiful soundtrack

This thing makes a lot of fun noises. There’s a beefy exhaust note, and when it’s in sport mode, there’s a fair amount of of flutter when you lift off the accelerator, and a big bass boom with each shift. In a lot of M cars, I’ve had trouble enjoying the soundtrack from inside the car unless I roll down the windows. Not so with the X5 M Competition. It’s engine/exhaust note is ever present, spicing up the whole experience.

5. The steering is actually pretty good

My biggest complaint when I first drove the fourth-generation X5 was with the steering. In particular, there was just too little feel and a lack of precision, making it hard to place exactly where you want it and leading to some meandering in the lane. The X5 M Competition suffers no such shortfall. BMW threw its “M Servotronic steering” at the Competition, giving it a variable steering ratio and speed-dependent assistance. Paired with a tuned suspension, the result is something that feels a lot more precise and responsive, providing more communication and just a better overall feel through the tiller. When you’re piloting a 5,500-pound behemoth with 617 horsepower and a six-figure price tag, having confidence in your reins is crucial. Between the actual steering system and the chassis’ ability to respond adroitly to inputs, this performance SUV provides just such confidence.

6. I appreciate the restrained (for BMW) interior

The interior isn’t supremely overwrought like some other higher-spec M cars. There’s some carbon fiber, but it’s not completely in your face, everywhere. The seats are fairly normal seats, no carbon fiber baloney jutting up between or around your legs, no hard spots jabbing you in the spine. The quilted leather is tasteful. There’s not an excess of complicated shapes and textures, there’s just a little bit of BMW design flair here and there that gives it some Bavarian DNA without making you feel like you’re in some super busy modern art space.

I do wish there were physical controls for the HVAC. Like the other menus in the entertainment system (more on that in a moment), the climate menu is pretty cluttered with various controls. The temperature is permanently docked at the bottom of the screen, which is good, but to adjust the heated seats or to change the level of blast that the automatic mode provides you, you have to dig in, find it, and select from like five different settings. Keep it simple, stupid BMW.

7. I’m still not in love with the infotainment system

The infotainment system is kind of a pain. The menus are really bulky and difficult to navigate. Thankfully, there’s wireless Apple CarPlay. There’s also a button that takes you back to the native menu. But when your phone is synced through CarPlay, it puts a lot of your CarPlay apps in the home screen menu, adding even more tiles and requiring extra sifting to get to something like drive settings. But the big dual digital screen looks good, presents information clearly and gives you great big views of things like your nav map.

Note that there is an updated BMW infotainment system found in recently introduced generations of the 5 Series, X1 and X2 that addresses some of these shortcomings.


8. The cargo area is a usefully sized

The X5 offers a generous cargo area behind the second row. BMW states a cargo capacity of 33.9 cubic feet behind the third row, which is good for the segment. I was able to put some oddly-shaped cargo in there, like long bo staffs for karate. If you want to take your family on vacation, you can bring along the extras and get there very fast. James Riswick, if you’re reading this, I request an X5 luggage test, sir. The fancy bag would be right at home here. (Why, the Long Bo Staff Test isn't good enough for these people? -JR)


9. The two-piece hatch seems unnecessary, but it’s actually good

I really like the dual-opening liftgate/tailgate combo. The liftgate portion up top opens quickly, allowing you to throw something inside or grab something out of the back. Flipping down the lower tailgate part gives you a nice place to sit and change shoes (I've heard some parents find it indispensable for diaper changes), and offers a level (but admittedly tall) load space for putting heavy things into the back of the car. But that extra length from the lower liftgate portion does make reaching deep into the cargo area harder. I had to actually climb into the back to reach the seatback anchor point for a car seat tether.

Another benefit is that you can open the liftgate without unsecured items immediately falling out. Nobody likes chasing down the can that rolled out of the grocery bag when you go to unload. And with the way the X5 M Competition encourages you to drive it hard, you will end up shifting loose cargo around at some point. Keeping the lower tailgate up prevents that stuff from falling on your toes, or sacrificing a bottle of wine to the driveway.

I’m glad the two-piece tailgate is still a thing. I loved it on my ’94 Blazer, and was excited to see Rivian include a similar feature on the upcoming R2 and R3. I like it just as much here.

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