FOURTH BAVARIAN TERRAIN ROVER: Eyeing a burgeoning number of well-heeled American motorists attracted to an upscale outdoor active lifestyle, in 1994 BMW Group purchased Land Rover brand.
Though German ownership of the British prestige marque once issued a Royal Warrant was brief, the objective was to acquire luxury sport utility know how from the originator of the segment. By the time the E53 X5 SUV launched in 1999, BMW was already about to ink the sale of the Land Rover, this time to Ford. But the marriage of raised unibody platform and powertrains donated by the E39 5-Series sedan to Range Rover technology and cues, would establish new legion of Ultimate Driving Machine followers.
HIGH FIVE RE-ELECTRIFIED: Bloated though any SUV might be relative to cars, in 2019 BMW Group USA light truck sales for the first time exceeded car sales. The launch of the latest iteration of X5 SUV proved that a Chris Bangle interpretation of a box on wheels would be more enduring than a “bustle back” sedan. Furthermore, the addition of a plug-in hybrid electric 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e confirms the brand’s bullishness on transitioning to a greener future.
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WHAT: 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e plug-in hybrid mid size luxury sport utility vehicle, based on CLAR underpinnings common to the G30 5-Series sedan and even closer related G06 X6 SAV Coupe. This fourth rendition of X5 SUV coded G05, succeeds the F15 designation.
Standard Power: B58B30M1 twin scroll longitudinal intercooled turbocharged 3.0L DOHC 24V DI gas I-6, start/ stop = 282 hp/ 331 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm; Net Hybrid: 389 hp/ 443 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm
parallel to: 1 x 360V synchronous AC traction / regenerative charging motor: 83 kW (111 hp) / 195 lb-ft, 1 x 240V synchronous AC Hybrid Starter Generator: 8 kW
electric supply battery: 80 Lithium Ion Polymer cells, 354V, 68 amp hr, 24 kWh
onboard charging port: Type 2 Mennekes 3.7 kWh
- Level 1 110V AC 6 ampere charge = 6.5 hours from 80% discharge
- Level 2 240V AC 6 ampere charge = 2.5 hours from 80% discharge
+ 8-spd. ZF design torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + viscous clutch differential all-wheel drive.
vs. 2018 X5 40e = +81 hp, +111 lb-ft
- intake cooling and electronic wastegate control = faster turbo spool-up, imperceptible lag
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: A luxury executive sportback rides atop the Bayerische Motor Werke CLAR modular steel, aluminum and carbon fiber intensive platform with 48 V electrical system, capable of accommodating, hybrid and pure electric powertrains.
• Creased Life of Prestige Sport Utility: A pronounced Coke-fuselage Kammback SUV announced by swept back windshield, upright liftgate and high belt-line, wearing more assertive elements vs. outgoing F15 series:
√ Vertically slatted twin kidney grille, widened with outward arrow bezels, arch over hood line; √ Angel-eyes DRLs underscore wrap around LED headlamp housings; √ Lattice dark lower front fascia corners cut in open brow hectahedral; √ Simulated metallic front skid plate matched by U-shaped license plate bezel mid rear bumper trim;
At the Sides:
√ Serrated look metallic side skirts; √ Dark wheel arch cladding, mates to rear lower fascia; √ Dark aft front wheel arch louver mates to upswinging lower cheatline crease; √ More subtle belt-line crease accentuates rear quarter flare.
√ Looping hockey stick wrap around LED light bars extend well into mid liftgate; √ Roof air splitter; √ Sharper spoiler atop upper and lower flared liftgate; √ Metallic trimmed concave lower bumper houses license plate; √ Hind rear quarter dark corner louvers; √ Dual trapezoid chrome exhaust housings; √ Dark lower rear fascia w/ subtle diffuser.
WHY: Diesel it out and plug-in hybrid is in as history proves that prestige light truck is more enduring and endearing than prestige “bustle back” sedan.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2020
WHERE: BMW new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.A
WHERE TO: Pretty much anywhere the cold one blows or the sun sizzles on the road. Bias of the electronic coupling all-wheel drive is nominally 60% at the rear wheels. Demand can transfer 100% of torque fore or aft depending on traction and yaw inputs. Optional air springs and e-torque vectoring electronic rear differential fitted to Roadblazing.com’s tested X5 xDrive 45e can be varied for ride height and enhanced traction.
HOW ROADWORTHY: The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e goes beyong the mere C.A.R.B. emission’s compliance vehicle that it’s predecessor F15 series amounted to. It makes for an unashamed turbo-diesel surrogate, since BMW has retired oil burners from the U.S. market. Substituting a Honeywell twin scroll electric wastegate blown gasoline twin-cam inline-6 for X5 40e’s turbo straight-four ups the powerplant’s deep torque creamy factor. BMW is talking 111 lb-feet of (33%) greater net torque than what a non hybrid X5 40i delivers. The straight-six provides smoother engine to electric motor hybrid handoffs, which the modified ZF designed 8-speed 8HP50 automatic planetary transmission eagerly awaits. Kickdowns from the slushbox are alacritous without harshness and obey driver commands from the steering wheel dorsal shift paddles in military fashion. And as with the superior crankshaft balance of other engines with six pistons mounted inline, the exhaust rumble is muscularly delicious.
• Five drive modes = Comfort, Hybrid ( and Hybrid Eco), Sport, Electric w/ battery preservation, Adaptive
– The tested X5 45e was fitted with the optional M-Sport package stiffer bushings and faster damping reaction. Included air springs, which adjust ride height, make life on 21″ alloy wheels anywhere from fairly buttoned-down without jolt to jostle free taut. Included Pirelli P-Zero performance rubber imbued the X5 45e with hard corner tenacity. Tail wise arching is tamed by all-wheel drive torque vectoring. A variable ratio e-assisted steering rack replies with a Bavarian heft picking up the pace commensurate to speed. Optional blue multi-piston fixed M-brake calipers assertively slow all two and three quarter tons of metal, glass, plastic and rubber with little fuss or body dive.
HOW FAR: 22 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 490 highway miles range. The new Samsung SDI 80 cell 24.0 kWh LiIon battery pack is 2x what the F15 X5 40e possessed. Plug-in charged range is now doubled to 30 pure electric miles at up to 84 miles per hour before the gas engine kicks in. A Battery Hold mode preserves the charge state for future intended pure electric driving.
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. Rear seat = 3 x large adult fitting
– For Comparison’s Sake:
- 117.1″-inch Wheelbase: 2.9″ > Mercedes-Benz GLE; 0.5″ < Volvo XC90 Recharge
- 2nd Row legroom: 2.9″ > Mercedes-Benz GLE; 0.4″ > Volvo XC90 Recharge
HOW USEFUL: √ 40/20/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs + dual cargo bay cable releases; √ Aluminum bumper load plate; √ Cargo bay privacy shade; √ Spring raised cargo floor to subfloor management; √ Cargo-area 12V outlet; √ Power clamshell split upper & lower liftgate w/ dual grab handles; √ Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box.
- +1 Split liftgate permits easy cargo floor loading; Non-intruding cargo area wheel arch, Enormous sub-floor storage; Clamshell access front center armrest bin
- –1 No overhead console retracting sunglass bin, Center console front wireless charging bin lid won’t close with USB cable
For Comparison’s Sake:
Nominal, expanded cargo capacity: +23%, -5.0% vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE; -21% (post Row 2), -22% vs Volvo XC90 Recharge
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; √ Surround view cameras; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control; √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam headlamps; √ Heads-Up display
+1 Parking Assist Plus (opt.) executes precise active parallel & perpendicular parking maneuvers, assisted back-out, while surround camera estimates door swing zone.
+/- Driving Assistant Pro & Traffic Jam II Level 2.0 extended autonomy adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist includes autonomous lane change = Optional
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The Bavarians have gotten their act together filling the place with bespoke materials even in standard guise. Indeed there are system settings out the yazoo, though a more streamlined 7th generation IDrive takes out lots of the tech anxiety. Display graphics are harmonious and color schemes easy on the eyes. What physical switchgear there is feels robustly enjoyable. Door lock and seat memory controls are appropriately grouped on the door panels. Surface graining does its best to be authentic with seams so uniform. Except when the Harman Kardon is cranked or Caring Car “Vitalize” is selected, the new X5 cabin is simply anechoic.
√ Heated 16-way power front sport seats, torso & lumber adjust, manual knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; √ 4 power windows, full express; √ 4-Zone auto climate control w/ 2nd Row digital display & controls; √ 2nd Row and aft dark tint privacy glass; √ Power panorama roof; √ Power folding wing mirrors; √ Comfort approach access keyless entry
- +1 Power tilt/ telescoping heated steering wheel, heated outboard 2nd Row seats
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ 12.3″-inch LCD Digital Drive Display w/ configurable LCD twin gauges; ♦ Gesture proximity media display control – clockwise finger rotation mimics turning the volume dial, lateral thumb doubles for selection advancing; ♦ Caring Car with both Relax (Orange sunset) and Vitalize (Green pasture) modes, provides 2:46 of mood music, varying climate settings, display image and varying intensity mood lighting;
♦ Heads up display w/ navigation map; ♦ Vehicle length badged straked broadcast puddle lamps
Details Done Right: ♦ Aluminum bezels and switchgear; ♦ Full exposed soft material surfaces; ♦ Elaborate pattern contrast stitched, pebbled Nappa leather seating & upper door panels; ♦ Rhombicle pattern soft material dash, door, center console inlays; ♦ Full dashboard & door panel ambient LEDs; ♦ Dense pile cabin, transmission tunnel & cargo area carpeting; ♦ Center console saddle padding matched to leather.
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Black mesh cloth headliner;
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ iDrive 7 touch, remote & voice controlled LCD infotainment screen; √ iDrive 7 center console rotary controller, finger script touch pad & primary function buttons; √ Rotary audio volume dial, tuning & preset switches; √ Bluetooth, hands-free communications; √ Voice-to-text SMS messaging; √ Voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD GPS navigation; √ HD weather, traffic; √ wireless Apple CarPlay; √ BMW Connected Apps using virtual cloud for appointments; √ USB x 4, 12V x 3.
Audibly: √ 16 speaker, 600 W Harman Kardon DTS 7.1 RDS HD radio = shallow bass, crisp highs, convincing sound stage
By Subscription: √ SiriusXM (90 days incl.); BMW Connected Services √ 4G LTE by AT&T;
HOW MUCH: $81,020 = as tested 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e suggested retail price
WHAT’S MISSING: Less than abridged Oxford Dictionary of an option list; wireless Android Auto.
ANY COMPETITION: Volvo XC90 Recharge: +1 seats, infotainment simplicity
FINAL WORD: New Bavarian standard for prestige PHEV Sport Utes.
Contributing Editor: Tomasz Paluch