BMW expanded the fourth-generation X5 lineup with a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain that turns the big SUV into an electric car for up to 30 miles. Alternatively, it puts nearly 400 horses under the driver's right foot.
Called xDrive45e, the newest addition to the X5 range looks a lot like its non-electrified siblings when it's viewed from the outside. The main differences are found under the sheetmetal, where its plug-in system is built around a 3.0-liter straight-six. This is significant, because the last-generation X5 hybrid (which was called xDrive40e) was equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo four. BMW also doubled the lithium-ion battery pack's capacity to 24 kilowatts.
As foretold in a BMW Blog report two weeks ago, the German firm has designed a better, quicker, more usable, and greener hybrid. Now that the information is official, we can dial in some of the details. The system has a total output of 389 horsepower and 411 pound-feet of torque, huge increases of 81 and 111 over the last-generation model. It takes 5.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, and it can drive on electricity alone for 30 miles at up to 84 mph. Motorists can also take advantage of its massive torque output to tow up to 7,200 pounds.
BMW made the xDrive all-wheel drive system rear-biased to ensure the X5 drive remains enjoyable to drive in spite of the weight added by the battery pack. Motorists have three driving modes called sport, electric, and hybrid, respectively, to choose from. There's no off-road mode, but the standard air suspension can add 1.6 inches of ground clearance at the touch of a button to help the X5 clear small obstacles. Another button lowers it by the exact same amount to facilitate the task of loading and unloading bulky items from the trunk.
Inside, the driver faces a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and there's a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system propped up on the dashboard. The software is compatible with Android Auto (a feature BMW spent years resisting) and Apple CarPlay, and its navigation system cleverly exchanges information with the optional adaptive cruise control system's radar sensor to tell the eight-speed automatic transmission when to shift. BMW claimed the X5 is always in the correct gear regardless of road conditions.
Engineers shoehorned the battery pack under the X5's body so cargo space remains relatively unaffected. The xDrive45e offers 0.8 cubic feet less than a non-hybrid model with both rows of seats left up, or 1.1 cubes with the second row folded flat.
BMW's American dealers will begin receiving the X5 xDrive45e in July 2020. Pricing starts at $66,395 once a mandatory $995 destination charge gets added to the bottom line. That figure doesn't include state and federal incentives that some buyers will be eligible for. In comparison, the xDrive40i model starts at $62,195 while the V8-powered xDrive50i carries a base price of $77,145. Both of these figures include the destination charge.