The BMW X5 xDrive45e is outstanding, but the Europeans get an even better version. Bummer.
A base model 2021 BMW X5 starts at $59,400. For that money, you get a swanky, capable, excellent driving crossover/SUV. For $6,000 more, you can get a base model BMW X5 xDrive45e. To be honest, you will have a hard time getting a base model of any BMW for the advertised price today. Still, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) BMW with serious power AND economy is a compelling proposition. Still, this car costs a staggering $81,695 as equipped. Ouch.
Starting with a 282 horsepower 3.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine, BMW adds an integrated electric motor. Total combined output is 394 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with BMW’s xDrive “intelligent all-wheel drive” system hooked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Driving the BMW X5 xDrive45e
It feels more like an X5-M off the line, than a “green” vehicle. The power surge is immediate, but not violent. It’s constant power on tap, with barely any lag. Shifts are smooth as butter, and the brakes are strong.
Being that they are “regenerative” they feel a bit hollow to some, but they are strong nonetheless. Handling and steering is outstanding, but we did have the M-package, so our rubber was more aggressive. The ride was typical BMW sorted, which is to say firm – but never harsh. In many ways, this may be the best overall BMW crossover/SUV I’ve driven – ever. There are very few compromises, other than price and a tiny bit less cargo space
The BMW X5 xDrive45e is all about the battery – which is good and bad…
The electric motor makes 111 hp and 77 lb-ft of torque on its own. BMW equipped this X5 with a 24.0 kWh (68.0 Ah) battery – which is massive. Think about it this way: the first-generation Nissan Leaf was solely powered by the same size battery. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV had a 16 kWh battery.
Despite weighing about 5,700 pounds and having all-wheel drive, this BMW X5 xDrive45e has an estimated range of 400 miles and an all electric 30-mile range. On the highway, you can cruise on all-electricity limited at 84 mph. The EPA rates it at 50 MPGe – which is impressive.
There is one issue: Like all PHEVs, the battery’s total output is limited. Often, this is to extend the life of the battery, and it helps mitigate charging issues as well. Unfortunately, the Europeans get a lot more battery than we do. Simply put: they get significantly more range (over 50 miles) than we do with the same battery. The battery pack can handle a maximum charging rate of 3.6kWh, which is also slow by modern standards. That makes for a seven hour charge from empty to full, and there is no provision for rapid charging. All in all, that’s fine for overnight charging, but not ideal for charging on cross-country trips.
Check out the video and observe the greatness of BMW’s best PHEV!