BMW X5 hybrid review

The BMW X5 xDrive45e is a spacious and sporty SUV offering up to 54 miles of electric range, which is among the best of any plug-in hybrid

£64,745 - £68,245
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Smooth to drive
  • Long electric range
  • Strong performance

Cons

  • Slow charging speed
  • Reduced boot space
  • Five-seater only
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 49-54 miles 188-235mpg 27-34g/km

This isn’t the first time the BMW X5 has been available as a plug-in hybrid: a few years ago, the X5 xDrive40e gave buyers up to 19 miles of electric-only running, which wasn’t enough to make it a clear-cut choice over the much cheaper diesel variant.

Now, the X5 hybrid is back in the form of the xDrive45e. It comes with a longer electric range and more power than before – a combination that helps it to give its Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90 rivals a serious run for their money.

Unlike the old X5 PHEV, 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 journeys on electric power. Company-car drivers also enjoy an ultra-low 6% Benefit-in-Kind rate during the 2020/21 financial year.

Not only that, but the X5 hybrid will potentially be very cheap to run. Although you'll have to budget for expensive road tax and insurance due to its high list price, we saw real-world 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 at all 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.