This week we take a look at a large, luxury SUV from BMW that is also a plug-in hybrid. This is the 2021 BMW X5 Xdrive45e and let this sink in: this big SUV will get you 50 miles to the gallon as rated by the EPA, at least for a little while.
Under the hood there is a 3-liter inline six cylinder with twin turbos that work in tandem with an electric motor to give you 389-horses and 443-pound feet of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed transmission with shift paddles, and all together you can go from 0-to-60 in just 5.3 seconds. The XDrive designation means this SUV has BMW’s terrific all-wheel drive system.
Last year, the 2020 Xdrive40e hybrid had a totally gutless 4-cylinder, so this is a huge improvement for 2021 and this year we get a 5,952-pound towing capacity.
I love the looks of this X5, especially the 21” wheels with blue brake calipers, which are part of the M Sport package and this Artic Gray optional paint is just beautiful. From every angle, this is a sharp-looking SUV.
Moving to the interior, my tester has the Executive Package which gives you incredibly comfortable, and highly-adjustable heated and cooled seats, heavy stitching all around, and all soft touch materials.
There is a very configurable 12.3” gauge cluster that is colorful and changes with the different drive modes. There is also a great head-up display with road sign recognition. The gauges will tell you both how much electric power you have left, in terms of miles, and also the same for the gas engine.
The center console is a work of art starting with the glass handle of the shifter. You can choose the different drive modes, adjust the height of the vehicle, turn on the awesome Auto Hold, and there is a round dial to operate the IDrive system for the sound system, the navigation system, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and a host of apps. There is also a wireless phone charger as well.
These features are tied to a 12.3” touchscreen that sits high on the dash. The system is simple and intuitive and much easier to operate than previous IDrive versions.
The back seat is comfortable and offers USB ports, a power source, and automatic temperature controls. The cargo area offers up 33-cubic feet of space with the second-row seats up, and a very nice underneath storage area, which has a shock absorber type rod to hold it up, a nice touch. Both parts of the split tailgate are power. There is the large liftgate that works from the key fob, and a smaller tailgate that operates by touch. You can also lower the height of the vehicle from there for easier loading.
I won’t go through all the standard features and options, but trust me, I can’t think of a single thing that could be offered that is not, including all the latest and greatest safety features, and a panoramic moonroof.
Ride and Drive
I do want to talk about the driving experience. This is an incredible driving SUV and is super quiet inside. BMW handling is unlike other vehicles and is very driver centric. Acceleration in Sport Mode is strong and determined. Steering feels great with good response and feedback.
So, here’s the real deal. The all-electric range is 30 miles, meaning if you have a short daily commute, you will never have to go to a gas station again, just plug-in every night. I would recommend at least a level 2 Charger. From no battery power to a full charge will take about five hours.
As a hybrid, it’s a wonderful SUV that you can drive cross-country and still get great mileage. If you’ve had thoughts about an all-electric, I would submit to you this may be a better option. You get all the benefits of an electric vehicle for your short drives, but don’t have to worry about range anxiety for those longer trips.
What You’ll Pay
Like most luxury SUVs, it’s pricey at an MSRP of $81,695, but if you consider the technology and features this vehicle offers, AND the fact you get an electric vehicle AND a hybrid, this is actually a terrific value. An added extra is a $7500 Federal Tax Credit.
2021 BMW X5 Xdrive45e
- What I liked most: Performance, driving dynamics, interior and exterior looks, and all-electric range.
- What I would change: Actually nothing, this is a winner!
- MSRP: Base price $65,400 as equipped $81,695 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: 50 MPGe on electric, 20 overall on just gasoline.
- Official Color: Arctic Grey Metallic.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2600 miles.
- Weight: 5,672 pounds.
- Spare Tire: None, run flat tires.
- Length-Width-Height: 194.3” long/78.9” wide/ 68.7” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.2 gallons of gas with filler on the passenger side charging port on the driver’s side front fender.
- Towing Capacity: 5,952 pounds.
- 2021 BMW X5 Xdrive45e in a few words: A great combo of an all-electric SUV and a hybrid SUV, all wrapped in a pure-luxury body.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 8-year/80,000 mile hybrid system warranty.
- Final Assembly Location: Spartanburg, SC
- Manufacturers website: BMW
- Up next: 2021 Lexus LC500.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this review stated the towing capacity as 7,200 pounds. It has been changed to reflect a 5,952 pound towing capacity.]