2017 BMW X5 plug-in hybrid review with video

The basics:

Starting price: $74,950 + taxes
As tested: $88,500 + taxes
Average fuel economy over a week of driving: 7.9 L/100 kms (29 US MPG)
Competitors: Tesla Model X, Volvo XC90 T8

So, let me get this straight, you want the functionality of an SUV and the luxury of a BMW while appeasing your green sensibilities? Well, this week we have just the ticket. Since 2016, BMW has been offering up a vehicle with one of the longer names we’ve ever seen – the X5 xDrive40e. It’s a plug-in hybrid that can travel short distances on strictly electric power and it goes toe-to-toe against the Volvo XC90 T8, and a little less so, against the strictly electric Tesla Model X. BMW is going hard after the electric and hybrid market right now. And while only 2.5% of all BMWs sold in Canada this past year were plug-in hybrids, the company projects that number to grow six maybe even ten times over the next eight years. They see it as the future. But it’s not without its lumps. Take a look at our full video review above and then scroll through our report card for the summary.

Pros:
– With the exception of trunk space, the dimensions of the 40e are exactly the same as the regular X5. That makes the first and second rows supremely comfortable for long trips
– There’s also not much of a bump in the middle seat of the second row so three people could sit back there quite comfortably
– It’s also an exceptionally pleasant interior to spend time in. The seats, the switchwear, the perfect balance between leather and wood and high quality plastics, even the pile of the carpet. BMW’s attention to detail shows here
– Road manners in the 40e are also excellent with great suspension, great ride comfort and a sometimes eerily quiet cabin – especially when you’re driving it as an electric vehicle
– And under electric power, it’s surprisingly peppy and can cruise right up to highway speeds without ever dipping into the 2-litre, four cylinder, turbocharged combustion engine
– When you do run out of electric juice or you need the extra power, this little four cylinder kicks in seamlessly – at times completely unnoticed – and combined with the electric motor, brings you 308 available horsepower
– And something else that’s cool about the 40e is that its towing capacity is actually exactly the same as the regular gasoline X5s – at just under 6,000 lbs – something that’s obviously not going to help your fuel economy but cool that you don’t lose that capability when you go for the hybrid
– Speaking of fuel economy, in real life driving, where you’re bound to run out of that pretty slim fully electric range, we’ve averaged 8 L/100 kms this week. Which, for an SUV of this size, is astounding. That’s the kind of economy we’ve been seeing lately in small, much less sporty, compact crossovers
– And as the 40e charges (just under 8 hours with a typical household style plug or just under 3 hours with a 220 volt plug), you can check up on its charge status on the BMW Remote App

Cons:
– Like I’ve mentioned in other BMW tests I’ve done, I think the company can be a little chintzy about what you get for your base price in their cars. I mean, it’s 2017 here, and at $75,000, I’m kind of expecting Apple Carplay, Lumbar Support, Blindspot monitoring and four zone climate control to just come standard. Instead, they’re extras that are rolled into expensive packages
– It’s hard to pin down a specific range that it can go strictly on battery power. That depends on how you drive it, where you’re driving it, what the weather is like, and how much stuff you have weighing it down. But BMW figures you should have a range between 19 and 25 kms using strictly the electric motor, a range that (let’s be honest) is pretty miniscule – but enough for a quick trip to the grocery store or for a modest commute
– Economy in the city is impressive in the 40e but it’s not so great on the highway. While the 4 cylinder engine doesn’t feel underpowered, it does have to work hard to keep this big vehicle cruising at highway speeds. That means the turbo is spooling a lot and its highway economy is well below that of the diesel X5
– The infotainment system is a bit convoluted and doesn’t allow the driver to track fuel economy as easily as we would’ve liked. Hybrid owners often like to geek out on efficiency stats while also seeing their navigation and multimedia displayed. You can’t do that in this car
– Now, the batteries for the hybrid system live under the trunk and that will reduce your cargo capacity a bit. The 40e has a 500 litre capacity with the rear seats up, versus 650 litres in other X5 models
– It also means that, unlike other X5 models, a third row of seating is not an option in the 40e
– And depending on who you are and what you use the trunk for, you’ll either really like the double-action tailgate or you won’t. It’s a two step process that is great for containing groceries but kind of a pain if you have a dog jumping in and out all the time
– And if you do have young kids in rear facing car seats, we found it to be surprisingly squeezed in the front row. We weren’t expecting that result from the largest SUV on tap from BMW!

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4.5/5 (61 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3/5

Family Wheels overall score: 40/50= 80%

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