2024 BMW X5 M Competition Review: Model M Citizen

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Love It

Leave It

Genuine fun

Oh so thirsty

Still quite practical

Meh steering

Smart cabin layout and tech

Not as showy as competitors

This is a case of heart over head.

I drove the 2024 BMW X5 twice this year. The first was the in the excellent xDrive50e form, a plug-in hybrid that a friend called a cheat code of a car. It was the one that I’d want were it my own money, no doubt about it.

Or at least, there wasn’t. Two months later I’m back in the familiar, comfortable throne of an X5 M Competition, all snarling V8 and aggression. “An SUV doesn’t need that much power,” I originally rationalized, but the M seduced me with friendly and accessible performance, logic be damned.

What’s new?

The X5 M saw comparatively few changes as part of the model-wide X5 LCI of 2024. The exterior tweaks are neither better or worse to these eyes, simply different. The thinner headlights and blacked-out nose are more visually interesting than the safely handsome look of yesteryear, and same goes with the cool, arrow-like LED signature of the taillights. Honestly, it’s the sweet Isle of Man Green paint that sets the X5 M out for me. Thank you, BMW, for continuing to champion actual colors. The originally optioned staggered wheel sizes—21 inches up front, 22s in the back—are swapped out for a quartet of 21s wrapped in winter rubber, with contact patches nearly a foot wide at each corner.

BMW’s thunderous 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 continues to lurk underhood. While the peak figures are unchanged at 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, there’s now a 48-volt mild hybrid system to augment the bent-eight. Beyond incredibly smooth start-stop capabilities, this system also provides torque fill at lower rpms. You know, because the X5 M wasn’t quite freight trainy enough before.

Hard charger

Needless to say, this powertrain delivers. An official 62 mph (100 km/h) time of under four seconds seems conservative, as is typical for modern M machines. Peak torque arrives at just 1,800 rpm, and the combination of the 48V system and the “hot-vee” turbo layout makes for practically zero delay. Stomp the throttle and those steamroller tires will do their best to turn the tarmac into ribbon behind the big Bimmer, cartoon style. And this is on winter rubber! The noise out of the quad exhausts is guttural and addictive, a bassy blast briefly punctuated by the telltale farty brrrat of the ZF eight-speed auto.

The steering, at least in the default setting, is well-matched to this hulking bruiser. Majoring in quick responses and consistent weighting, the thick rim could use more feedback, but at least it invites you into the conversation between car and road. Punch up the Sport Mode and there’s an artificial weight that doesn’t jive with the rest of the package.

Luckily, as this is a modern M car, there are about eleventy squillion drive mode adjustments to be made. The engine, chassis, steering, brake and drivetrain settings are all on the menu, plus the shifter aggressiveness. Pick and choose your preferred settings and just assign them to one of the wheel-mounted M buttons. You can even set it up as a rear-wheel drive hooligan, though I never did. Everything but the steering on the most aggressive setting results in a shockingly capable road trip companion, one that will happily dissect the windy roads around cottage country while staying perfectly pleasant on the highway. Body roll is practically non-existent, yet the X5 M doesn’t shake its passengers to pieces to accomplish that. It’s a tougher ride, sure—but if you wanted comfort first, there’s literally every other X5. Even the brakes are epic, capable of multiple high-speed stops without a hint of fade.

All this talent does come at a cost: a prodigious thirst. The X5 M Comp is one of the sippier V8s I’ve driven this year, officially quoted at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and just 15 mpg combined. (Canadian figures: 17.9, 13.0, and 15.7 L/100 km combined.) My numbers were, uh, not that good.

Satisfying cabin

The X5 cabin is classic BMW, all clean lines and faultless ergonomics. The ’24 updates bring in the typical family features that have quickly spread all across the Bimmer family: a curved twin-screen display (yay!) and the reduction of physical audio controls (nay!). The Adelaide Grey leather seats are a welcome contrast to that excellent exterior hue, adding a little bit of warmth without being too shouty. This tester features the Premium Package ($6,500 CAD), which adds ventilation and massaging to the front thrones. The former is useful on more spirited drives, the latter on longer ones. Rear-seat space is ample, especially as the X5 M is a soley five-seat affair. The back bench is also comfortable with a good seat angle for support and the benefit of the large panoramic glass roof above.

This may be the sportiest X5, but it’s still an X5, and that means useful amounts of in-cabin storage. The door cubbies will swallow water bottles without problem, and the center console is ample. Storage space is a very practical 33.9 cubic feet (960 liters), and that more than doubles to 72.3 cu ft (2,047 L) for when you want the world’s quickest Home Depot delivery vehicle.

Techy type

Those twin 12.3-inch screens run iDrive 8.0, the precursor to the system I’ve enjoyed in so many other BMWs recently. That’s not to say eight-point-oh is bad, because it’s still sharp and quick in responses. The usability tweaks of its half-step successor are missed however, as this setup relies too heavily on menu-diving to accomplish tasks. I’m sure with time an owner could get used to it—but then, they’d just upgrade to 8.5 anyway.

BMW’s instrument panel is one of my favorites, offering up lots of information and ways to customize how it’s shown to boot. I especially like how much of the control is handled in the accompanying head-up display, so nothing is hidden on the main screen. Also great: incorporating smartphone navigation into the cluster itself. More brands need to do this. Unfortunately, I found the wireless charger finnicky and prone to not actually charging, and Apple CarPlay (wireless, alongside Android Auto) would disconnect or skip with frustrating regularity.

The Bowers & Wilkins audio system was without fault, but it didn’t blow me away enough to justify the $3,400 ($4,900 CAD) extra outlay.

Dollars and sense

In news that should surprise few, the X5 M is now only available as the higher-powered Competition for 2024, in both the US ($123,295) and Canada ($144,480 CAD). Both prices include destination. There are some unique trim differences between the countries—merino leather is a cost option but the carbon trim isn’t in the US, while it’s the other way around in Canada—but as equipped, our tester ran to $160,630 CAD, or about $135,645 for a US equivalent.

That’s a serious bit of coin, putting the X5 M right in the crosshairs of the AMG GLE 63, Audi RS Q8, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The Cayenne might have a better overall balance, but only the much more expensive Turbo GT can match the Bimmer’s sledgehammer power delivery.

Verdict: 2024 BMW X5 M Competition Review

It may be pricey, but the 2024 BMW X5 M Competition justifies it by being so darned good at everything. It’s genuinely entertaining to drive, with a sense of balance and adjustability that is all too rare in performance SUVs. More than that, this high-rider is arguably emblematic of what M means in 2024, especially within the context of the new XM flagship. The problem, at least for BMW? The X5 M delivers a stronger hit of excitement than that newer model—the regular XM, not the XM Label—for significantly less cash. I guess the X5 M is a rational decision after all.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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