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True Sports Car Performance: 2020 BMW X5 M50i

By Steve Wheeler, January 18th, 2020

BMW has released two new M models for the driving pleasure of performance buyers. The 2020 BMW X5 M50i and its big brother the X7 M50i are rolling off the assembly line in Spartanburg, S.C.

Both of these SUVs (BMW calls them Sports Activity Vehicles) are the latest additions to the X5 and X7 lineups. I tested the smaller of the two, which started at $82,150.

Powered by a 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, BMW says the X5 M50i will sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. After driving this new M model, I don't have any trouble believing those numbers; this vehicle hauls. It has amazing power, which is delivered smoothly and impressively when given just moderate throttle.

The engine delivers 523 horsepower (an increase of 67 over the X5 xDrive 50i) and 553 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels. With its xDrive intelligent AWD system, the X5 M50i really sticks to the road.

While the X5 M50i delivers a thrilling driving experience, it also has the goods when it comes to technology. The vehicle is awash with sophisticated safety and driver assistance systems. The optional Driving Assistance Professional package offers Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with side collision avoidance, Automatic Lane Change Assistant and Front Cross Traffic Alert.

On a road trip from Baton Rouge to Covington, La., I was able to try out some of this technology. While there are more than 75 buttons on the dash and console, the one button I loved turned on a suite of driving assistance features.

Pushing this driver assist button lights up an icon on the driver information center that shows the car and traffic around it. It activates the adaptive cruise control to keep pace with the vehicle in front. It also steers the car in the center of the lane for as long as you have any contact at all with the steering wheel. I found that all I had to do was keep my thumb in contact with the wheel and the vehicle's technology did the rest of the work.

Other lane keeping assist systems require the driver to actually move the wheel every 10-15 seconds, but this system works continuously as long as it senses that you have some kind of contact with the wheel. The display in the 12.3-inch instrument cluster also shows other cars around the vehicle and warns the driver not to change lanes. It's amazing technology and is another step toward real autonomous driving.

The center display, also 12.3 inches, is home to most other features and allows drivers to customize the system to their own preferences, which are stored in the BMW cloud. Information on driving, entertainment, and navigation can be configured to the driver's liking. This is one of the "smartest" cars I've driven. New owners should plan to spend a good bit of time with the owner's manual to learn about the myriad systems and features.

The X5 M50i gets 20-inch wheels with all-season run-flat tires, M Sport brakes, an M Sport differential and adaptive M suspension. Articulating headlights light up the night like a football stadium.

Interior designers and engineers outdid themselves Inside the X5 M50i cabin, where occupants are treated to "experiences" that can be configured to each driver.

strong>Choices include three one-touch experience modes: Executive, Expressive, and Well Being. Executive mode automatically adjusts ambient lighting, temperature and closes the moonroof. Expressive mode adjusts ambient lighting, temperature and opens the moonroof. Well Being mode adjusts ambient lighting, makes the car two degrees warmer, turns on the seat heaters and closes the moonroof.

The 2020 X5 M50i can tow up to 7,200 pounds with a factory-installed hitch. Finally, the 2020 BMW X5 is about as safe as they come, winning a 2019 Top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the IIHS top score of "good" in every category, which is a rare feat.

Specifications

Base price $82,150 (as tested: $83,145)
Curb weight 5,260 lbs.
Displacement 4.4-liter
Engine type TwinPower Turbo V-8
Epa mileage rating 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 21.9 gal.
Horsepower (net) 523 at 5500 rpm
Overall length 194.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 553 at 1800-4600 rpm
Transmission 8-speed
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD midsize SUV
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