by Jay Traugott
The fourth-generation BMW X5 debuted back in 2018 but only now has the hybrid version launched. It was worth the wait. Meet the 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e, a plug-in hybrid luxury performance SUV that's not only more powerful than its immediate predecessor but likely more fuel-efficient as well. BMW realized a few years ago the numerous opportunities electrification offers in terms of making the Ultimate Driving Machine an even more engaging vehicle for drivers. The 2021 X5 PHEV is proof of that.
With several available drive modes, significant towing capacity, driver-assistance systems, a sport-tuned suspension, and a cockpit layout designed with the driver in mind, BMW's latest SUV will be going head-to-head with the segment's best and it's very possible it will become the leader of the pack. Of course, this blend of power, performance, efficiency, and technology doesn't come cheap, though this hasn't slowed down business. Quite the opposite. The American-built X5's popularity only increases as time goes on and the addition of the new PHEV model will certainly boost it further.
3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Hybrid
From the outside, the 2021 X5 PHEV looks nearly the same as the regular X5. The most noticeable differences are unique badging and the lid cover for the external charger, located above and to the right of the left front wheel arch. A set of 19-inch V-spoke wheels with run-flat tires are standard though buyers have an additional four wheel packages to select from with up to 21-inch wheels.
A total of nine non-metallic and metallic paint finishes are on offer, including Alpine White, Carbon Black Metallic, and Manhattan Green Metallic. Other standard exterior features include adaptive full LED headlights and automatic high beams, and a panoramic sunroof. Depending on selected packages, options include aluminum trim, the Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof, and a trailer hitch.
Whether you loved or loathed the fourth-generation X5's exterior styling, the new PHEV model won't change your mind either way.
Like the exterior, little has changed inside. However, as the X5 PHEV's battery is integrated into the underbody, some cargo space is lost. How much? A mere 0.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up, or 1.1 cubic feet when folded. It's a minor price to pay.
Standard features include a SensaTec dashboard, ambient lighting, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and SiriusXM Satellite radio. Also standard is iDrive 7 which can be accessed via the 12.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.
Checking the options box allows buyers to tack on four-zone climate control, front ventilated multi-contour seats, an M steering wheel, and numerous aluminum and wood trim combinations.
While the previous generation X5 Hybrid was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder-battery combo, the new generation receives a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six connected to a high-voltage battery. Total output comes to an impressive 389 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, an 81 hp and 111 lb-ft increase over the old model. That massive torque boost from the hybrid drivetrain also allows for an impressive 7,200-pount towing capacity. And 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, sending power to all four wheels, though there is a rear-wheel-drive bias.
BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of only 5.3 seconds, which is 1.2 seconds faster than its predecessor. Although official EPA-rated fuel economy figures are not yet available, BMW estimates a 30-mile all-electric range. All-electric top speed also increases from 75 mph to 84 mph.
Drivers have three drive modes available: Electric, Hybrid, and Sport. Thanks to a double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, occupants will benefit from both a comfortable and sporty driving experience.
Standard safety includes Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Collision Warning, and Front Collision Warning. There's an optional Driver Assistance package that includes Active Cruise Control and Active Side Collision Protection.
Like in previous years, the 2021 BMW X5 PHEV will go head-to-head against the likes of the Acura MDX Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz GLE PHEV, and the Volvo XC90 Hybrid. Electrification in the luxury mid-size crossover SUV segment is becoming increasingly popular, so expect to see future versions of these competitors to stick with this trend.
BMW says the new X5 xDrive45e PHEV will carry a starting price of $65,400 plus a $995 destination fee. Within the current X5 lineup, this pricing puts it directly between the standard gasoline-powered X5 and the X5 xDrive50i with V8 power. Sales and deliveries are scheduled to get underway this summer.