In-depth reviews

BMW X5 hybrid review

The BMW X5 xDrive45e is a spacious and sporty plug-in hybrid family SUV offering up to 55 miles of pure-electric range, along with low company-car tax rates

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£66,905 - £80,510
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • Smooth to drive
  • Long electric range
  • Strong performance

Cons

  • Slow charging speed
  • Reduced boot space
  • Five-seater only
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid51-55 miles202-235mpg27-32g/km

BMW has offered a plug-in X5 hybrid before: the old X5 xDrive40e could manage just under 20 miles on battery power alone, but never seemed like a clear-cut superior choice to the cheaper-to-buy diesel version. Now, the latest generation of X5 is offered with plug-in power, too. It's known as the xDrive45e and overall makes a much stronger case for itself than its predecessor. For starters, it has a much longer electric range (over 50 miles) and more power than before. It's a serious rival for the likes of the Audi Q7, Mercedes GLEPorsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90 hybrids.

And unlike the old X5 hybrid, this could be the pick of the line-up. The xDrive45e is keenly priced in the middle of the range, and the extra cost compared to the xDrive30d diesel will likely be recouped by covering many of your journeys on electric power alone. Company-car drivers also enjoy an ultra-low 7% Benefit-in-Kind tax rate during the 2020/21 financial year, rising to just 8% in the following two 12-month periods.

So the X5 hybrid will very cheap to run as large SUVs go. Although you'll have to budget for expensive road tax and insurance due to its high list price, we saw a real-world electric range of some 38 miles even in cold weather with some motorway miles covered. You'll likely see well over 40 miles in warmer months, especially if you spend a lot of time in town where electric motors are most efficient.

After that, the six-cylinder engine is far from efficient, returning around 30mpg in gentle use. That's unlikely to be a surprise to anyone buying such a big, powerful car, and given the electric running potential, there's a host of motorists who could see zero fuel costs for most of their journeys.

But this car is more than just a penny-pincher; it's also just as good to drive as any X5, feeling smaller and lighter than you'd expect on a twisty road. Not only that, but even on big 21-inch wheels, the standard air suspension gives it a cushy ride. Combined with excellent refinement, it's just an effortless cruiser that can also entertain if you want it to.

It also offers plenty of space for all occupants and their luggage – but note that you can't have this version with seven seats, due to the space taken up by its batteries. If you want a seven-seat electrified car, you'll have to look to the Volvo XC90 T8 or the Tesla Model X. Of the two trim levels available on the X5, xLine makes the most sense, as its 19-inch wheels give a slightly better ride than the M Sport's 20s, but many buyers prefer the more aggressive styling of the latter model, which costs several thousand pounds more.

Overall, the X5 hybrid is a compelling package. It's extremely fast, fun to drive, usefully practical, very comfortable for five people and especially cheap to run – for company-car drivers in particular. That all goes to explain why we named it the best large plug-in hybrid model at the 2020 DrivingElectric awards, and why it features strongly in our lists of the best plug-in hybrid cars and best plug-in hybrid SUVs you can buy. For more on the BMW X5 hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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