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So, you love the thrill of your M3, yet realize that forcing your kids into its small back seat might be cruel and unusual punishment. BMW has your solution: the X5 M, a four-door SUV with all-wheel drive and a monstrous engine.
Now, no SUV will match a coupe's performance, but with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 putting out 555 hp and 500 pound-feet of torque, the X5 M gets surprisingly close. Furthermore, that torque has a powerband from 1500 to 5650 rpm thanks to pulse-tuned turbos that deliver boost with perfect timing.
The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and can be operated via paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. The X5 M is equipped with BMW's all-wheel drive system, which delivers lateral power independently to each of the four-wheels.
Another innovation from the German automaker is Adaptive Drive. With this system, computers monitor how hard the X5 M is being pushed and adjust parameters -- like roll stabilization and damping control -- to reduce the negative effects on passengers from sharp turns, quick braking and other aggressive maneuvers.
Fortunately, many features like stability control and throttle sensitivity can be turned off or adjusted by the driver, allowing the X5 M to get off its leash. An "M" button on the steering wheel lets drivers quickly reset performance parameters to their own preferences.
With only one trim offered, the base X5 M is, of course, loaded. The M Sport suspension includes a self-leveling rear suspension, while Hill Descent Control is packaged with the xDrive for controlled driving on steep terrain. The 20-inch wheels are wrapped in run-flat performance tires, and the convenience of headlight washers is provided without their unsightliness, as they are retractable.
Metallic paint also covers the body-color door handles, and the exhaust exits to signature M quad tailpipes. In the cabin, front seats are power-adjustable in 20 ways and all seating is trimmed in luxurious Merino leather. The three-passenger rear seat has a split folding function to extend the cargo area, which does include a trim-matching cargo cover.
BMW's iDrive system uses an on-board computer to access the various multimedia features, as well as control the standard navigation system. A 16-speaker premium sound system with two subwoofers and a digital amplifier fill the cabin with crisp audio.
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Has a more comfortable ride, but not as quick around corners
Provides excitement behind the wheel, but not much utility for an SUV
SRT8 model has comparable performance to the X5 M at a much lower price
Supercharged V8 power with better off-road ability, but not as much cargo space