2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-In Hybrid - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
It's Sheer Driving Pleasure
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Of course, when you own the top tier of any automotive category, you're also entitled to charge boutique prices for the privilege of admission. In the case of our test X5, its base price figure of $65,400 seems quite reasonable for such exceptional engineering and versatility. But the layer cake pricing structure so familiar to BMW buyers quickly bumps that illusory starting number into a final figure of $81,695. You can attribute the inflation to the following dollops of frosting: $550 for Arctic Grey Metallic paint, $1,700 for the Driving Assistance Professional Package, $5,500 for the M Sport Package, $4,050 for the Executive Package, $950 for M Sport 21" wheels, $650 for M Sport Brakes, $550 for a Trailer Hitch, $750 for Multi-contour seats, $350 for Front and Rear Heated Seats, $250 for Heated Armrests and Steering Wheel, and $995 for Destination.
Of course, you can shop for a similar class of SUV at the KIA store (Telluride), the Hyundai franchise (Palisade), or the Genesis dealer (GV 80), and save yourself tens of thousands of dollars compared to a similarly equipped X5. But while you may get all the bells and whistles that BMW charges extra to install, you will not ultimately get the BMW driving experience. That experience begins the instant you open the cabin door of the Bavarian SAV and behold the visual splendor of the interior. The seats, upholstered in Ivory White Vernasca Leather, are so artfully detailed that they could hang in the Museum of Modern Art and make a compelling display. The silver metallic top surface of the center console is cross hatched in a diamond pattern that matches similar inserts in the face of the dashboard and sides of the armrests. The Executive Package provides a "Glass Controls" option which fits the shift lever with a diamond cut clear glass knob which reflects the letter "X" through its many facets. Across the top of the dash, a 12 inch screen serves as your guide for all functional vehicle settings, as well as a matrix for the navigation map. An even larger TFT panel behind the M Sport steering wheel spreads across 14 inches, and provides a bewildering array of driving and battery charge information.
In battery only mode, the Hybrid will trundle around town for just 31 miles before needing a recharge. Be aware that in full electric mode, you are depending on the 111hp permanent- magnet synchronous AC motor to motivate close to 3 tons of curb weight, so e-only performance is notably lethargic. However, with the turbo 6 hooked into the system, driving the X5 Hybrid becomes a much more intriguing prospect. But its start-up behavior suffers from one notable shortcoming. The throttle pedal operates like an on/off switch. This trait leads to uncomfortably jerky starts that are a constant and jarring annoyance.
The X5's handling prowess is due in large measure to the fitment of oversize M Sport rims and tires. Those 21 inch alloys carry beefy Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires, staggered in size (275/40R21 front, 315/35R21 rear). The Pirelli rubber, with a treadwear rating of TW 360, is soft enough to offer good stick for back road driving. We were surprised to discover that we could easily keep a hard driven Porsche Cayman in sight on coastal Route 1 without breaking a sweat. Although the X5 does lean significantly when asked to switch direction quickly, those pliable Pirellis keep the sports activity vehicle firmly planted at all times. But the "Multi-contour seats" could use a lot more side bolstering to keep your body planted during heavy cornering. We especially enjoyed watching the navigation map spin from through 360 degrees as we wound our way through the switchbacks.
The X5 Hybrid provides a brand of sheer driving pleasure not much evident in less expensive competitors from Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, or even Lexus. BMW unlocked the key to sport activity driving 22 years ago, and no one has quite caught the leader of the pack yet.
2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e
ENGINE: 3.0 liter inline 6, turbocharged and intercooled, plus permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor
HORSEPOWER: 389hp TORQUE: 443lb.-ft.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/22MPG Highway Combined Gas + Electricity 50MPGe
PRICE AS TESTED: $81,695
HYPES: Unparalleled Level of Fit and Finish
GRIPES: Obnoxious Lane Keeping Assistant, On/Off Throttle
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10