BMW X5 xDrive45e — An all-around SUV winner

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(May 16, 2021) Don't let the hybrid designation on the 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e throw you off. This X5 is one bad dude with a 282-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6 engine paired with an electric motor creating a total of 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque running through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination is capable of a 0-to-60 run in under five seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.4 seconds @ 102 mph. And it can be driven for up to 31 miles without using gas.

Fuel economy is a rather meager 20 mpg combined if you don't take advantage of the plug-in hybrid portion of the equation. But if you keep the 24-kilowatt battery charged up on your home charger, the EPA says you will realize a combined 50 mpg on a tank of gas and 31 miles of pure electric range. And as frosting on the cake, the BMW X5 45e is eligible for the government's $7,500 tax credit.

BMW says the battery can be charged to 80 percent on a Level 2 (240 volt) charger in 4 hours and can be completely charged in 5 hours, 20 minutes. That might seem a bit slow, but plug it in before you go to bed and you will have around 30 miles of gasoline-free driving for the morning commute.

If your weekday driving involves no more than a 30-mile roundtrip to work or a run to the supermarket, drugstore and to pick up the kids from school, the BMW X5 45e will be one frugal beast and a big plus for the household budget. You can live a little bit green and still have all the BMW goodness delivered by a X5, rated one of the best all-around crossovers in the world. One caveat on driving electric only — the electric motor makes only 111 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque and has a top speed of 84 mph.

This 2021 X5 is part of the fourth generation that debuted in 2019, an impressively luxurious and capable SUV. And the 45e is a replacement for the 40e, which had a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Whether you're looking for performance, a premium cabin design or the latest in technology features, the X5's got it — including a plug-in hybrid version.

It comes in various flavors depending on your needs. There are five trim levels — sDrive40i, xDrive40i, xDrive 45e, M50i and the ultra-high-performance M. All but the base sDrive40i come with standard all-wheel drive. Seating for five people is standard, but an optional third row is available. Horsepower ratings range 335 for the base inline 6 to the 600 for the M twin-turbo V-8.

We enjoyed the X5's rather elegant ride and excellent handling traits while negotiating our regular winding-road test track in a spirited manner. It's not a sports car, but you could call it a true "sports" utility vehicle. It's the whole package and one of the most enjoyable SUVs to drive that we've encountered in some time. When straight-line performance is demanded it's delivered as indicated by the aforementioned numbers. Part of the whole package is the X5's ability to tow up to 7,200 pounds. That should cover virtually all weekend toys.

There are six drives modes to choose from including the all-electric mode, which obviously won't activate if there is no useable charge left in the battery. Other modes include Eco Pro for maximum efficiency; Hybrid for a blending of gas and electric power; Sport for getting the most performance; Adaptive, which will adapt to your driving style; and Individual, which allows the driver to set everything his or her way.

Take a seat inside and you will find a cabin lined with high-quality materials with a myriad of features such as a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers and customizable ambient lighting.

The dashboard is dominated by a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen that features wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Interior room is ample for front-seaters, and back-seat passengers have excellent headroom and adequate legroom. The X5 45e's battery is located under the cargo floor, but takes away only one cubic foot of cargo volume compared to the standard X5.

While not best in class, cargo room behind the seats is adequate measuring 33 cubic feet. With the second-row seatbacks folded, the X5's cargo space expands to 72.3 cubic feet.

Our X5 xDrive45e test vehicle carried a base price of $66,395 including a $995 destination charge. Our vehicle came with three optional packages including the M Sport Package which brought, among other things, 21-inch wheels for $5,500. The options plus a $550 charge for Arctic Grey Metallic paint brought the bottom line to $81,695.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e


Base price: $66,395; as drive, $81,695
Engine: Inline 6-cylinder, electric motor
Horsepower: combined 389
Torque: 443 pound-feet
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 117.1 inches
Length: 194.3 inches
Curb weight: 4,863 pounds
Turning circle: 41.4 feet
Luggage capacity: 33.9 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 72.3 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 7,200 pounds
Fuel capacity: 21.9 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 50 MPGe, 20 combined gas
0-60: 4.7 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Mercedes GLE, Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90

The Good
• 31 miles all-electric range
• Well-appointed cabin
• Excellent performance

The Bad
• Slow to charge up battery

The Ugly
• Options can send price soaring