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BMW X5 xDrive40e Review: Powerful, Efficient and Engaging

The all-new BMWX5 xDrive40e is efficient, engaging and fun-to-drive.

Families looking for a clean luxury crossover now have a new option. How about a plug-in hybrid that does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and has an all-electric range of 14 miles? Leave it up to BMW to come up with a sporty plug-in hybrid that runs clean and it’s fun-to-drive. It’s the new BMW X xDrive40e. The BMW X5 is a benchmark in the midsize luxury SUV segment and it’s built in the U.S. at BMW’s South Carolina plant. We would say it’s more of a wagon than an SUV as it offers families a sophisticated choice on the road with all-wheel-drive capability.

What’s new for 2016?

The BMW X5 xDrive40e is a new model for 2016 that adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the current luxury X5 lineup.

Standard features

Standard equipment on the BMW X xDrive40e ($62,100) includes a rear air suspension, adjustable suspension dampers, adaptive xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding, auto-dimming heated mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, remote keyless entry, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, hybrid-specific instrumentation, heated 10-way power front seats and driver memory settings.

Electronics features include BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 10.2-inch central display screen, the iDrive infotainment system with additional hybrid-specific iDrive menu items, navigation, voice controls, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input and HD radio.

Optional packages on this tester

The Premium package ($2,550) added keyless entry and ignition, four-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and leather upholstery, while the Luxury Seating package ($1,350) features front ventilated front seats. The Cold Weather package ($550) includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers. The Mocha interior ($1,950), Luxury Line ($1,100) added 20-inch lift alloy wheels and Satin Aluminum roof rails. A Harman Kardon surround sound system ($875), Night-Vision camera system with pedestrian detection ($2,300) and Surround View ($750) rounded out the options. Total MSRP including destination: $76,720.


BMW X5 xDrive40e exterior

The BMW X5 looks a lot like the popular X3. It gets sculpted lines with a tapered roofline and low beltline. It flows from the front fenders to the LED taillamps, to give it a wedge and sport wagon look. The exterior scoops push air to the wheels and brakes for cooling. The headlights are high and nicely detailed, with LED fog lights helping to illuminate the darkness.

Interior highlights

The rich Mocha Nappa leather interior greeted us as we entered the cabin. The light stitching complements the beautiful brown color scheme with the stitching on the seats, door panels center console and dash. There’s a two-layer dash with the easy to-see 10.2-inch central display screen in the middle. We liked the handy snap-in iPhone adapter on the inside of the center console that features dual doors that open to the sides.


We thought the contoured leather front seats were a bit hard but they may get more supple as the car gets used. The navigation system and BMW Apps are accessed by the iDrive controller on the center console with a touch-write surface. It takes longer than a week in the vehicle to figure out all the technology available on the X5. The one complaint we have on the inside, is the heated steering wheel gets too hot after it’s been on for awhile. We had to keep turning it off and then back on this week.

The rear seats are comfy and there’s plenty of leg and headroom for taller passengers. There’s a convenient climate control unit in the back that controls the temperature and heated seats. Rears seats fold 40/20/40 and recline making longer trips more enjoyable. A very usable rear cargo area can handle suit cases and sports gear. It can be accessed with the dual rear gate bottom dropping like a pickup truck tailgate and top glass opening up like a minivan. The cord for the eDrive charging is easily accessed by popping open the door located under the rear cargo deck.

Engine, plug-in hybrid and fuel mileage specs

X5 xDrive40e is powered by a 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. It’s coupled with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes. It drives all four wheels for all-weather capability.

BMW X5 xDrive40e battery

The xDrive40e total system power is 308 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque making this plug-in hybrid a sporty performance enthusiasts family wagon. The plug-in hybrid has 14 miles of electric-only range capability and can be used for city traffic and running short errands. The xDrive40e is the ideal commuter for families wanting the versatility of the regular X5, plus emissions-free urban operation.

The X5 xDrive40e has an EPA fuel mileage rating of 56 MPGe in combined city/highway driving. Fuel economy drops to 24 city/highway mpg when driving in gasoline-only mode. The more you stay in electric mode, the better the fuel mileage of course. If you mainly use the vehicle for longer distances, it's not going to get the best fuel efficiency.

BMW X5 xDrive40e charger

The onboard charger located under the rear cargo deck will recharge the battery from a 240-volt charging station in just under three hours. A factory-supplied 120-volt/15 amp charging cord plugs into any standard wall outlet and will take around seven hours to an empty battery pack.

Driving dynamics

BMW claims the xDrive40e will launch from 0- 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. We believe them because the plug-in hybrid is quick when you step on the gas. On the flats, you can get up to 75 mph in all-electric mode but it deletes the battery quickly at those speeds. Once we got used to the touchy brakes and quick acceleration, the BMW X5 is a joy to drive. It’s one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers on the market.

The vehicle left us feeling secure and confident as we experienced an early spring blizzard that dropped 18-inches of snow in our area. The X5’s all-wheel-drive system performed flawlessly as we tacked the deep snow on the freshly-plowed roads this week. The vehicle is fun-to-drive and it ramps up driver engagement with its sporty demeanor.

BMW X5 xDrive40e drive

On the open road, the cabin is quiet with wind and tire noise muted. The ride is comfortable yet firm enough for spirited driving in the corners. The X5’s self-leveling rear air springs kept the luxury wagon totally flat in the tight mountain corners as we pushed it hard west of Denver. The turbocharged four cylinder is ideal for those living at altitude or driving to the mountains for a ski trip on the weekends. It’s got plenty of power for passing and pulling a mountain pass.

You can direct the X5 xDrive40e's powertrain functionality with a few settings. Max setting locks the plug-in hybrid into all-electric mode until the battery is empty. Putting it into Auto mode lets the gas engine and electric drive systems work in tandem. The Save Battery setting helps conserve the battery's energy for later use in Max mode.

BMW X5 xDrive40e rearConclusion

The new 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e is a solid choice for families wanting the perfect combination of plug-in hybrid technology for urban commuting along with it’s powerful drivetrain for weekend trips to the ski slope. It offers the luxury and sophistication inside and plenty of utility and cargo carrying ability. It’s a sporty performer on the road and will satisfy anyone’s need for wanting high driver engagement.

Photos used with permission from BMW.

This review of BMW X5 xDrive40e is updated on May 11, 2018.