BMW X5 Hybrid SUV xDrive Review

The new BMW X5 SUV xDrive Hybrid swaps its four-cylinder for a six-cylinder. Consumption is on the rise, as is the size of the battery, to meet the European measurement cycle.


BMW X5 Hybrid xDrive: more cylinders, more battery, more fuel consumption     

     On this new X5, everything changes! If the third generation was technically close to the second one, this fourth version makes a clean sweep of the past, by adopting the new CLAR platform, inaugurated by the current 5 Series and now shared by all the propulsion range of the Bavarian manufacturer. 

     The X5 has taken advantage of this to move up in the range, further increasing its size. The length, 4.92 m, is impressive. 

     But it is above all the width, 2 meters excluding the rear-view mirrors, which is impressive, to the point of being a disadvantage in an urban environment. The X5 has chosen its target: it is primarily intended for the American market.

     Born almost sporty and athletic, the BMW X5 is now a classic and statutory car. Because, for those who want a more dynamic look, there is the X6 (not declined in plug-in hybrid … for the moment?). 

     While those who want ostentatious luxury can turn to the X7 (no Plug-in Hybrid here either). In short, if it wasn’t so massive, the X5 would be almost inconspicuous!

Luxury on board


Inside, too, the X5 shares nothing with the previous generation, although the atmosphere remains typically BMW. 

The lines of the furniture have been refined, while the finish is perfectly flawless. By tapping into the copious options catalog, it is possible to choose the color and type of material for every inch of the interior.

Once you get used to how the iDrive system works, it convinces with its highly intuitive ergonomics. The thumbwheel on the center console makes it easy to navigate through the menus. 

Above all, gesture control is a valuable ally in everyday use: you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, just twirl your finger to adjust the sound. In addition to this, it has one of the most powerful voice recognition systems on the market.

It would be indecent to criticize the habitability of such a colossus. Given the size, the space on board is obviously generous. 

However, it should be noted that this Plug-In Hybrid version can’t have the seven-seat option, due to the presence of the battery. 

No offense to the front passengers, who enjoy some of the most comfortable seats on the market, including head restraints as soft as cushions and a convincing optional massage function.

The technique

If there’s one thing the X5 Plug-in Hybrid hasn’t changed, it’s the transmission. Still supplied by ZF, the gearbox incorporates a 113 hp electric motor instead of the torque converter. 

Everything else is new, starting with the battery, it adopts an enormous capacity for a rechargeable hybrid: 24 kWh, which is the same as that found on the first Renault Zoé and Nissan Leaf… 100% electric! A necessary evil, in order to have a decent electric range and thus keep a favorable tax system.


Because what BMW gives on one side, it takes on the other. This larger battery is designed to limit the CO2 emissions of a revised engine. 

Probably to better compete with the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, this X5 xDrive45e is upgrading to an inline six-cylinder. This unit develops 286 hp, for a combined total output of 394 hp. 

This is enough to ensure performance in line with the – high – demands of the class: the top speed is 235 km/h, while 0 to 100 km/h is shot down in 5.6 seconds. Not bad for a vehicle weighing 2,510 kg, whose CO2 emissions are contained at 47 g/km in the worst case (with the largest 22-inch wheels).

Behind the wheel of the BMW X5 xDrive45e

The BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid drives first and foremost… like an X5! In other words, it is without a doubt one of the most comfortable SUVs on the market. 

Especially since the xDrive45e version is the only one in the range to benefit from standard air suspension, optional on other engines. 

The road’s unevenness is all the more remote as the soundproofing is very high. Together with the remarkably comfortable seats, this makes this big SUV a real cocoon.

Of course, you’d expect a BMW in the field of dynamism. The X5 does a good job of defending itself for such an imposing machine. 

The chassis, which is well-balanced and almost playful when provoked, accepts being abrupt. But the absence of four-wheel steering, unavailable on the Plug-In Hybrid version, limits fantasies. 

Above all, we regret fundamentally imprecise steering around the midpoint. Things get a little better with the active steering option.

Where this X5 really expresses itself is on the highway. Steering always proves problematic when it comes to maintaining a precise heading, but the kilometers pass without fatigue and passing maneuvers are immediate and consistent. 

It’s an interesting compromise between responsiveness and length, even if the resources seem less inexhaustible than those of the X5 M50d six-cylinder quad-turbo diesel engine, which boasts a power output of close to 400 hp. 

But the electric motor only acts as a boost at high speeds, which explains this difference in feel.

Consumption on the rise

If technical choices allow CO2 emissions to be contained on paper, thanks to the European type-approval calculation method, this is not the case in real life. 

Because the big battery means more weight, and the six-cylinder is naturally greedier than the old four-cylinder. In hybrid mode, average fuel consumption is around 11 liters per 100 kilometers. No miracle.


Of course, the use of a generous battery allows a rather decent range in electric mode, since we recorded a little over 60 km, with consumption around 30 kWh/100 km on a mixed course. 

This means that a good part of the daily commute can be done in electric mode… provided that the battery is recharged regularly, which is not necessarily natural for customers of this type of model, whose main advantage is the tax advantage. 

It should be noted that BMW does nothing to make life easier for them, with a saving of a penny on the on-board charger, limited to 3.7 kW. So there’s no need to look for a big wallbox to fill up the battery in less than seven hours…