2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV review: A greener luxury sports SUV

2021 BMW X5 X5 xDrive45e PHEV
MSRP 62900.00 dollars

“Be green without noticing it in BMW’s refined X5 xDrive45e PHEV.”


  • Premium Hybrid Powertrain

  • Cheaper than gas-only versions with incentives

  • Luxury, comfort and sportiness of BMW

  • Hands-free traffic jam assistance


  • slow recharge rate

  • Lacks the latest BMW infotainment system

New car buyers have made it clear that they want SUVs. People want to sit higher, feel safe, and have enough room for trips to Costco, Home Depot, and Target. The problem: SUVs tend to suck up more gasoline than, say, sedans. But there is a way to get a big luxury car that works well with your bank account and the environment.

The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) takes what people love about the German luxury SUV and adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s a great integration that doesn’t show any of the occasional weirdness we’ve seen with the BMW 330e PHEV. Instead, it highlights the work BMW has done to ensure that PHEVs just work without compromising the BMW experience.

Starting at $63,700, the X5 xDrive45e all-wheel drive is eligible for a federal tax break of up to $7,500. This is the same amount you get for an EV. The reason for the big discount is the 24 kWh battery pack – of which 17 kWh is usable. This big package not only saves potential customers money in sales but also in their daily life.

BMW X5 PHEV in the parking lot.
Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

This tax incentive also lowers the car’s price below the gasoline-only X5 xDrive40i price, which starts at $62,900. This is without any state or local incentives that may accrue up front. Like the 330e PHEV, the X5 PHEV ends up being the least expensive option, whether out the door or on the go.

Of course, the cheapest way to get around would be in EV mode. The reason a car gets the full government tax incentive is the same reason it does so well at shoving around on gasoline.

In EV-only mode, the X5 xDrive45e has an EPA range of 31 miles. In our tests, we got 27 miles of range in mixed driving conditions, including on the highway, in neighborhoods, and on back roads in 51-degree weather. Cold weather can reduce the efficiency of a battery-powered car, but it appears to have been warm enough to not affect the BMW in any real way. The range should be at least enough to get many passengers to work without using any gas.

BMW X5 PHEV charging port.
Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

Charging is a really rigorous home experience. The X5 only supports charging up to 3.7 kW, which makes charging on the go a waste of time. During our tests, I had no trouble charging at home while I slept and woke up to a full battery in the morning.

Driving in EV mode has been improved over previous X5 Hybrids. The SUV will now travel at speeds of up to 84 mph, 9 mph more than the 75 mph found in the previous version of the vehicle. Since speed limits in some states are 70 mph and above, it is good to note that in the eight states with speed limits of 80 mph, the X5 PHEV can keep up with traffic in EV mode if needed.

Outside of a battery-only drive mode, BMW has done a great job integrating the two powertrains into the X5. When the BMW 330e had a bit of an oddity, the transition from gas to electric was always smooth during my week with the X5 xDrive45e PHEV. In all six available modes (EV only, Eco, Eco Pro, Adaptive, Sport, and individual driver mode), the car ran exactly as you’d expect.

For those who need maximum acceleration from their SUV, BMW says Sport mode delivers 0-60 times 5.3 seconds — half a second slower than the gas-powered version. We haven’t been able to properly test this on the track, but during acceleration from a standstill, this number appears likely to be correct. In other words, it’s not as fast as the regular X5, but the PHEV is still very fast for the majority of drivers. For those looking for something very sporty, there’s always the X5 M50i. This is where you put your dollars for an SUV with the excitement of a sports car.

Regardless of the situation, ride quality is handled brilliantly thanks to BMW’s Dynamic Damper Control and air suspension. The ride quality matches the situation, whether in either the aggressive sport modes or the quieter eco and adaptive modes. The steering is also handled by impressive mapping, with just the right amount of tightness while pushing the car to its limits, but also a lot more relaxing for driving around town.

bmw x5 PHEV in the parking lot.
Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

Inside, the X5 xDrive45e matches the interior design of nearly every other BMW in this generation. The seats are comfortable but have enough side bolsters to help keep the driver and passengers in their positions around tight corners. Enough head, leg and shoulder room to fit my frame of over six feet in all but the center seat in the back. Not that the tall person should be sitting there, no matter what “gun” game you might play to secure a seat in the car.

In the driver’s seat, BMW offers a driver-focused control center, with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen tilted toward the driver. The automaker’s latest iDrive 8 doesn’t make it to the X5 yet – so you get the iDrive 7 – but what you lose in the latest system, you gain in physical climate control, media control and programmable buttons. In the center console next to the gearbox is the iDrive rotating console flanked by quick buttons for the main infotainment system. Once saved in memory, the infotainment system is much easier to use.

If you want to connect your phone further, BMW offers wireless CarPlay support but also Android Auto support starting with vehicles produced since August 2020. If Android is the platform of choice, it’s best to make sure the car supports your phone before you drive it off a lot.

BMW X5 PHEV infotainment display.
Roberto Baldwin/Digital Trends

BMW’s voice assistant falls short of offerings from Mercedes, Android-powered Volvos, and even the updated BMW system. Its natural language system is good, but there are better digital assistants. This is especially true after driving a car with iDrive 8.

Technology remains top-notch on the road with BMW’s optional $1,700 Extended Traffic Jam Assistant. At lower speeds on select highways, the X5 allows the driver to remove his or her hands from the steering wheel in certain situations. The driver still needs to keep his eyes on the road, and a sensor inside the car tracks his face to make sure this happens. While at a standstill it worked fine without any issues and handled the extra bits with ease.

For those who commute daily in terrible traffic, it will probably be worth the extra money just to reduce at least some of the cognitive load of traffic. Just make sure you don’t get caught up in the lack of interest in the world around you.

At the rear, the X5 sits halfway between rivals from Volvo, Mercedes and Audi in 33.1 cubic feet of cargo space with a higher second row. When folded down, that expands to 72.3 cubic feet. There is no option for the third row, but I’m fine with that. The third row in this car would be a horrible seating experience. Those looking to add more people to their vehicles should make the jump to the larger SUVs on the market.

Standard safety features include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rollover detection, and emergency brake assist. The 2021 BMW X5 is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The AWD X5 has a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The X5 PHEV variant had not been tested at the time this review was published. While we don’t expect the PHEV version of the car to stray too far from the X5’s overall rating, the extra weight of the battery and electric motor could be enough variable to affect the vehicle’s ratings.

On the warranty front, the automaker offers a four-year, 50,000-mile limited warranty, a 12-year unlimited rust-perforation limited warranty, and an 8-year/80000-mile warranty on the battery.

How does DT configure this car

With only one trim level for the PHEV version. The X5 xDrive45e all-wheel drive is ready for daily rides around town and inclement weather. The added peace of mind of the hands-free driver assistance system makes it worth the extra $1,700. The $5,500 M Sport package is pretty rich in our blood, but we definitely throw in the $350 heated seats and $250 heated steering wheel that also come with heated armrests. Finally, if you plan on towing with the X5, the hitch will cost you $550.

we took

With a great EV-only package and enough room for the family and their gear, the X5 xDrive45e PHEV hits all the right marks. It’s fast, livable and requires nothing more than anyone else to deliver at night to be ready to save some cash on the go. Its price point also makes it cheaper than other non-M X5s — all while making all-wheel drive standard. The slow shipping rate is a concern, but it doesn’t spoil the deal.

Inside, the car is comfortable front and rear, with a good mix of sportiness in a driver-oriented package. The infotainment system looks a little dated because the latest version available from BMW in its new electric cars. But the inclusion of Android Auto should make many potential buyers very happy after years of BMW only supporting CarPlay.

On the road, the xDrive45e PHEV delivers the BMW experience without the compromise we’ve come to expect from hybrid systems.

Should you get one?

Yeah. The X5 xDrive45e is a great combination of BMW’s premium SUV and electric technology. It serves as a family carrier and the first or only premium vehicle for someone who wants German luxury and sport, with enough room for trips into the mountains or lunch with business colleagues.

Editors’ Recommendations

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: