by Chris Wall
The biggest of the Bavarian SUVs is the BMW X5, and with the direction the company is headed in and it's promised to offer up at least one electronic hybrid option for every different model range, we now have the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance. That name is a mouthful and it's quite apt for the SUV because it does offer up a lot, but as is normally the case, you can expect to pay for it. Three trims are available if you want an X5 with gasoline/hybrid powerplant - the xLine Design, Luxury Design and the top-rung M Sport Design.
|xDrive40e iPerformance Plug-In Hybrid||
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
No matter which BMW you look at, it will have a good interior, what would be considered medium-level trim, fit and finish for BMW is closer to a high-end setup with other automakers. The leathers and hard trim items are as good a quality as you'd expect and there are a host of options to tailor things to individual tastes. Like a luxury sedan, the BMW xDrive40e iPerformance features well-bolstered leather seats front and back with space for 5; front seats are power adjustable and the rear can be optioned to recline to add 3-inches of legroom.
In the dash is a large display for the iDrive 6.0 system software that's easily seen by all passengers, but if the car will travel often a pair of 10.2-inch screens can be had in the rear for passenger entertainment. Brushed aluminum, wood, leather Sensatec are trim choices available to spec the xDrive40e to specific needs.
The BMW xDrive40e iPerformance is a large SUV and just like the rest of the X5 range it still manages to handle like a normal sports sedan. The suspension is tight and firm for the road and different drive modes see it soften up or stiffen up more, situation dependent, the Dynamic Damper Control works fast and seamlessly. Steering feedback is the same as most big SUVs, it's quite devoid of feel but it's still sharp and precise. The power from the electric-hybrid is immediate and there's enough torque available that you can fill the seats with linebackers and the rear cargo space with a week's worth of luggage and you still wouldn't guess there's some additional weight from the 9.0 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Active roll stabilization and Dynamic Performance Control keep the SUV planted, the latter distributing power to the best wheel of the all-wheel drive for maximum traction. The xDrive40e is also capable off road with good ground clearance and enough electronic wizardry to make even the most novice seem quite skilled.
Powering the BMW xDrive40e iPerformance is an award-winning 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that works with a lithium-ion powered eDrive motor. The gasoline side produces 197 hp with 148 lb-ft of torque with the electric side producing the equivalent of 111 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Added to the now common 8-speed automatic transmission that can't really be faulted, you're looking at a combined 308 hp with 332 lb-ft of torque that can send the large SUV to 60 mph in a mighty impressive 6.5-seconds. With hybrids, fuel economy is always the bonus, and the xDrive40e can deliver up to 56 mpg – 14 miles can be done on electricity alone.
Even though the SUV is being aimed at saving the environment and getting good mileage, it's still packed with all the usual BMW tech and safety goodness. Nice touches include wireless charging for compatible devices, a Wi-Fi hotspot, heads up display, navigation, PCD, a Bang & Olufsen audio system (at over $4,000) and a rear-view camera for precision parking. Safety is as good as it gets with a host of active and passive systems at work to keep you in good health. Optional side and top-view cameras give a bird's eye view to give you maximum confidence in tight spaces, and there's lane departure warning, blind spot sensors and of course head, side and curtain airbags.
With an electric motor that takes just three hours to charge and a total of 308 hp, the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance is a luxuriously appointed hybrid that's every bit as good and as capable as the regular X5. The only real differences being the information relayed to the driver on the instrument cluster, the extra weight of a lithium-ion battery and the increase in mileage. It's not cheap being the second most expensive in the range (besides the M-badged model), but that won't stop it selling well.