How to Add Horsepower to Your BMW X5

by Scott EilersUpdated November 07, 2017

The X5 is a mid-sized luxury/crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) introduced in 1999 by Bavarian Motor Works (BMW). The X5 is offered in several trim lines with different engines which range from a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 engine that produces 265 horsepower to a 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 engine that generates 400 horsepower. Regardless of the year or trim line, all versions of the BMW X5 can be made more powerful by installing performance aftermarket products.

Install a performance cold-air intake system. Cold-air intake systems draw in air from outside of the engine bay, cool the air then route it into the engine. Factory-installed cold-air intake systems tend to be relatively restrictive in order to minimize engine noise. Performance cold-air intake systems suck in much more air and cool the air more effectively, which lowers the overall temperature of the X5 engine. This, in turn, provides an increase in horsepower at the cost of a slight increase in engine noise. Cold-air intake systems are fairly inexpensive and easy to install for individuals who have some experience with automotive upgrades or repairs.

Upgrade the BMW X5's exhaust system to a performance type. Exhaust systems blow warm air out of the engine bay and back into the environment to maintain a cooler engine temperature. As with cold-air intake systems, factory exhaust systems restrict airflow in order to lower engine noise as well as CO2 emissions. Aftermarket exhaust systems provide superior airflow out of the engine bay, which reduces engine temperature and increases horsepower. They also increase engine noise and CO2 emissions, and many states have regulations regarding which, if any, exhaust systems can be installed. Consult your state regulations before replacing your X5's exhaust system.

Install a performance computer chip. Most cars made within the last 20 years, including every year and model of BMW X5, use an on-board computer to manage and regulate the function and performance of the engine. By default these computers instruct the engine to run fairly conservatively in order to minimize wear and tear and maximize fuel economy, but this also reduces performance. Performance chips reprogram your vehicle's on-board computer for maximum performance, which may reduce fuel economy and increase stress on various internal components, but provides a substantial boost to horsepower.

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