January 2017 Driver's Notebook 6

2017 BMW 
X5 xDrive40e

BMW, plug-in hybrid, SUV? Those words sound odd at first. Those words sound odd at first, but they do work. The new BMW X5 xDrive40e SUV is actually pretty cool. BMW claims around 50 mpg because of the combination of gas with the electric motor. This hybrid is a bit different than a normal hybrid vehicle. The first way it is different, is it is tied to a 2.0 liter 240 hp turbo engine, despite the fact the badge says “40e” there is not a 4.0 motor in it, the electric motor adds another 111 horsepower, however BMW says the total together is 308 hp. The second way the BMW is different, is you actually need to plug it in to charge.

The plug-in hybrid system takes about 3 hours to fully charge the battery for the 13 mile, 111 hp motor. The cord plugs directly into the front driver side of the car, similar to the plug in the electric BMW models as well as the Tesla. The plug glows when it is plugged in and charging.

The electric motor alone can push the car about 13 miles. Although it is completely useless on its own, it does help achieve excellent gas mileage in normal driving, a range that not many SUV’s can achieve while still remaining cool to drive. The 0-60 time is around 6.8 secs, and at 5000 pounds, that’s pretty impressive. The handling of the BMW X5 xDrive40e is what you’d expect from a BMW, it works and handles very well. It is an SUV so there is body roll, but it is well balanced and fun to drive.

The powertrain has three different modes. Auto eDrive strives for the most efficient use of the powertrain; Max eDrive allows driving on electricity only; and Save Battery aims to maintain and raise the battery charge so it can be used at a later time. The three hybrid modes can be combined with BMW’s familiar Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro adjustable-chassis settings. In Eco Pro, the X5 will decouple the powertrain from the driveline when the driver lets off the accelerator.

This model featured 19” wheels with all season tires and did have the M badge, so it also included roof rails, multi-contour seats (which were very comfortable), steptronic auto transmission with shift paddles, M steering wheel, a very nice wood trim which I actually really liked, and attractive door trim plates.

Aside from a number of features and being a hybrid, I was unimpressed that it did not include front collision warnings, blind spot detection and a few other features. Apparently there is a $1700 add-on for the driver assist package. Since the price tag is pushing $70k, you’d think these features would be standard (get with the game BMW).

The BMW radio system was a little confusing at first, but I quickly became accustomed to it. The navigation system worked well, but I have yet to find a navigation system (aside from vehicles featured Android Auto and Apple Play) that worked better than my phone’s Google Maps. The stereo sounded awesome. The Harmon Kardon speaker system is definitely a system to desire. Additional standard features included push-button start, keyless entry, power seats and in-cabin illumination, which also allows you to change the color of the lights. The tailgate, also similar to a Land Rover, in that it opens up downward, making storage very useful, is a great addition. And of course a backup camera, which is truly essential these days especially when driving an SUV is present. The xDrive all-wheel drive system worked very well, although not a vehicle you would want to take serious off-roading. It does prove useful when you need to go off the beaten path a bit, drive easily through rain, or just pop a curb.

The BMW X5 xDrive40e is definitely a vehicle to consider. The hybrid system along with the turbo gas engine works very well and achieves exactly what it is supposed to. Good fuel economy for power, matched with BMW styling and you have yourself a great vehicle.