2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e review: More power, more range, more tech
A plug-in hybrid is the perfect vehicle for someone who wants some EV goodness, but isn’t ready to commit to all-electric. Maybe you want electric power for city commuting and errands, but you need the added convenience and range of a gasoline engine for longer journeys. If it sounds like you and luxury SUVs, let me introduce you to the BMW X5 xDrive45e.
- 30 miles of fully electric range
- Well appointed cabin
I do not like
- Cargo space is less than the competition
- Two-row seating only
The new 45e is an updated version of the previously offered BMW xDrive40e. It offers more range than before – up to 30 miles thanks to a 24 kilowatt-hour battery – while also packing a more powerful punch. While the 40e had a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, the 45e gets a 3.0-liter I6 turbo. Total horsepower is rated at 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque – big increases over the 308-horsepower and 332 pound-feet from the old 40e PHEV. Power comes to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
There are six driving modes to choose from, ranging from super efficient to especially performance. Electric mode is for pure electric driving and only available when the battery is charged. Eco Pro maximizes efficiency, while Hybrid combines gasoline and electric power for easier everyday driving. The sport puts everything in full attack and will allow the X5 xDrive45e to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Adaptive will adapt, uh, to your driving style and tweak the parameters of the X5 on the go. Finally, there is Individuale, where you can do it your way and set everything to your liking.
An air suspension allows for a comfortable or stable ride quality depending on your preference and can raise or lower the X5 1.6 inches above or below its standard 8.3-inch ground clearance. The X5 plug-in hybrid weighs around 800 pounds heavier than a base X5 xDrive40i and I can definitely feel the weight with the added body roll when cornering. But with the suspension set to sport mode, the extra torque from the electric motor pushing me out of corners, and the eight-speed transmission running perfectly in the background, the xDrive45e is still pretty damn fun to drive.
My test car has the optional M Sport package, which adds 21-inch wheels and all-season run flat tires. These specific tires are a little too hard to provide substantial grip and the low profile means the ride quality is often tough. The standard 19-inch non-run-flat wheel and tire package would undoubtedly improve everything. If you really want a sporty X5, maybe skip the PHEV altogether and check out the V8-powered M50i.
The X5 only has a 3.7kW onboard charger, so while the battery itself isn’t huge, BMW says it will take around 4 hours to charge up to 80% on a level 2 outlet. If you want the 100 % complete, you are considering 5 hours and 20 minutes. If you have an EV charger at home and can plug in the X5 overnight, this won’t be a problem.
The X5 45e is equipped with numerous standard driver assistance features, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and front and rear collision warning. If you want things like adaptive cruise control or BMW’s Traffic Jam Assist that combines ACC technology with lane-centering capabilities, you’ll have to pay extra. Ditto the front cross traffic warning, which is very useful when trying to enter a street where cars are parked along the sidewalk, obscuring the view of traffic. If you live in a city like San Francisco where everyone has to park on the street, you will find this very useful.
Inside, a reconfigurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster displays every bit of information you might need to know about your X5, while the iDrive 7 infotainment system is housed on a second screen of the same size. I personally find iDrive has a steep learning curve, littered with menus and submenus that could be easily combined, but at least it’s quick to respond to my inputs and the graphics are crisp and clear. wirelessis they are also standard. That said, iDrive has a frequent tendency to disconnect from CarPlay while on the road and using a wireless connection.
Front passengers have access to wireless device charging, a USB-A port and a 12-volt outlet. There’s a USB-C port in the center armrest, and rear passengers have two USB-C sockets built into the front seat backrests. There is also another 12 volt socket for motorcyclists in the back seat and a third 12 volt plug in the trunk.
Since the hybrid battery is placed in the SUV’s floor, the cargo space is pretty much the same as a standard X5, but it’s still not great. Behind the second row you’ll find 33.1 cubic feet of space, which expands to 56.5 cubes when folded. It is less than Lincoln Aviator, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90. If you need three rows of seats, follow the fully gas-powered X5 variants or look at the Aviator or Range Rover Sport.
My tester has a white interior, which creates a stark contrast to the silver and black textured finish. The glass change adds a touch of over the top luxury and the standard heated front seats are a plus for my bum. Ventilated and massaging front seats are also available, if you’re willing to spend a little more money (they are). Overall, the X5 is a very comfortable, albeit rigorously designed place to spend your everyday life.
The X5 xDrive45e starts at $ 66,395 including $ 995 for the destination, and what you see here costs $ 81,695. I would definitely skip the M Sport package but add all the driver assistance features, massage seats, heated armrests and improved leather. In other words, you can get a really well optional X5 PHEV in the low to mid $ 70,000 range, no problem.
The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e is a great option for those who want to dip their toes into the electrification pool. It may be slightly smaller inside some competitors, but with its road manners and tons of luxury and tech, it’s one of the best all-round luxury PHEVs you can buy.