2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e - a Lesson in Plug-in SUVs Done Right

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e (Aaron)

Sport utility vehicles have often been the personification of fuel-chugging excess. That’s been changing as the American family turns more and more to crossovers and SUVs as their vehicle of choice and manufacturers respond with more efficient options in those categories. Enter the BMW X5 xDrive40e, a plug-in hybrid with up to 56 mpge in one of the most beautiful luxury SUV packages you can drive.

The manufacturer says

BMW has one goal - to build the best performance vehicles possible. So BMW took the advanced dual-engine technology engineered for the BMW i8 and created BMW iPerformance. These evolved BMW vehicles are faster off the line and more efficient than ever. Whether you charge up or fuel up, BMW iPerformance is the epitome of The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: BMW
  • Year, Model:2016 X5 xDrive40e
  • Class, Type: Luxury SUV
  • Propulsion system: Plug-in Hybrid
  • Base Price: $63,095
  • MSRP as tested: $76,720
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The X5 xDrive40e is part of the overall X5 lineup of luxury sport utilities and the iPerformance electrified machines in BMW’s vehicle offerings. As an SUV, it sits alongside the X1, X3, and others and as an iPerformance plug-in, it sits alongside the i3, i8, and others.

The BMW X5 xDrive40e has standard all-wheel drive when driven in both battery-only EV mode and in combined gasoline combustion hybrid modes. It’s propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission with an integrated electric motor. Total system output is 308 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, giving the X5 xDrive40e a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds. That’s pretty quick for a big SUV.

In electric-only mode (using the “eDrive” button) allows the X5 xDrive40e to travel at speeds up to 75 mph without use of the engine, though you can’t expect to break records getting to that speed with just the motor. When automatically switching between gas and electric or combining the two, though, the BMW will still try to stay in EV mode until it hits 45 mph or so. The driver can override this at any time with a button push or by mashing the accelerator. As with most BMW plug-ins, the X5 xDrive40e also has a “save battery” mode which conserves battery power until called upon, allowing the driver to switch to quiet EV driving when entering a neighborhood or their garage.

The EPA says that EV-only driving in the X5 xDrive40e is about 14 miles in total, though we saw more than that most of the time during our week with the SUV. The EPA also rates the BMW X5 xDrive40e at 56 mpge in combined driving. The gas engine alone rates 24 mpg combined. Charging time with the onboard unit (totaling 3.6kW) at 120 volts takes about seven hours and the integrated 240v charging option takes about three to charge from empty.

What we loved most about the X5 xDrive40e, though, was its beautiful driving experience and excellent interior quality. It’s roomy, family friendly, and very much a BMW in its drive quality. It handles better than many sedans and far better than any hybrid SUV (or gas-only, for that matter) we’ve ever driven.

What we like

Great driving SUV with a lot of upsides to its quality.

Wonderful hybrid system that is unobtrusive and smart.

What we don't

Expensive compared to standard luxury SUVs.

Third row is very limited.

Conclusions

There is a lot to love about the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e with its PHEV powertrain and smart design.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The X5 was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of 382 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions and with varied passenger loads.

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