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2015 BMW X5 M hides power and handling under its SUV skin (pictures)

BMW upholds the performance tradition of its M line even in its largest SUV, giving the X5 M big power and track-worthy handling.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 35 Josh Miller/CNET

The 2015 X5 M represents the second generation of X5 to which BMW has given the high-performance M treatment.

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On its own, the X5 is a fine onroad performer, but BMW's M division fits it with a powerful V-8 engine and adaptive suspension components to make it track-worthy.

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LED headlights are optionally available, part of the very high tech offerings on the X5 M.

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The 4.4-liter V-8 uses advanced direct injection, a very sophisticated valve control system and two dual-scroll turbochargers to produce 567 horsepower.

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As with the standard X5, the X5 M gets an air suspension at the rear, but BMW adds adaptive suspension components which keep it mostly flat when cornering.

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The big tires are a mixed set, with 285/40s at the front and 325/30s at the rear.

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Deeply tinted windows in the side graphic help keep it cool in the cabin.

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BMW's new Driving Assistant package includes pedestrian detection, which also detects bicycles.

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The xDrive all-wheel-drive system can push 100 percent of torque to the front or rear wheels.

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Picking up a new styling cue from BMW cars, the front fenders get vents.

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The X5 M and X6 M share many technical characteristics, although the X5 M maintains a more traditional SUV body.

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A nice trait carried over from the standard X5 is the clamshell opening rear hatch.

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A panoramic sunroof stretches way back.

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BMW offers a few different interior trim options, including red leather.

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Sport seats offer comfortable bolsters, helping keep occupants in place.

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The X5 M offers the same cabin and seating room as the standard X5.

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The navigation system and wide LCD on the dashboard come standard.

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The electric power steering rack can be set between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus, increasing the amount of heft at the wheel.

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BMW keeps its traditional analog gauges in the instrument cluster.

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The shifter for the eight speed automatic transmission sits next to the iDrive controls, and buttons for changing performance settings.

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A detailed, high-definition rearview camera helps in backing maneuvers.

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Even more helpful in parking garages, this surround view monitor makes it easy to keep the X5 M scratch-free.

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The main menu in iDrive, as in other BMW cars, shows a simple list of features.

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In iDrive, you can program the X5 M's performance characteristics and save them to one of two M buttons.

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BMW includes two M buttons on the steering wheel. Each activates all of its pre-programmed settings.

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The performance display shows virtual gauges with real-time engine output.

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The xDrive display shows useful offroad information, but not likely to get much use in the X5 M.

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BMW's navigation maps are richly detailed and show 3D rendered buildings.

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BMW Online connected services are powered by a dedicated 3G data modem in the car.

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BMW offers a few apps and services you can choose from its Online store.

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BMW's music library interface has always been a bit clunky, and the company has not fixed it yet.

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The now playing screen shows album art and rich music data.

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The optional Bang and Olufsen audio system uses 16 speakers, including this acoustic lens that rises out of the center dashboard.

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Bang and Olufsen audio profiles deliver a tight, concert style sound or a surround sound, theater effect.

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If you really want to tweak the sound quality, the car offers this seven-band graphic equalizer.

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