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Sunday Drive: BMW adds a new luxury SUV hybrid with the X5

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 13, 2021
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The exterior of the new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e.
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Inside the new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e.
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The exterior of the new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e.
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The exterior of the new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e.
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The electric charger with the new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e.

In the world of luxury high-end SUVs, the competition is intense, with all kinds of new technology being introduced to the market along with looks that can’t be beat. The new BMW X5 turned out to be no exception to this rule as it comes with technology that was only a dream a few years ago.

Admittedly, over the years we have never met a BMW that was not completely enjoyable, with the manufacturer always seeming to be the leader in technological additions. We saw our first heads-up display in a 6 Series years ago and, at the time, it was only a monochrome speedometer. Look where that technology has come since — it now provides us with a huge, full-color HUD.

Then there was the i8, a completely new idea in the technology world combining an electric motor with a Mini Cooper motor to come up with a supercar hybrid that turned more heads and got us more compliments than any other vehicle we have ever driven. So, when BMW launches a new version of one of their vehicles, we know that a week of awesomeness is in store.

Changes in this year’s new X5 hybrid include an added battery size, now offering up to 30 miles of electric-only range along with a top electric speed of 84 mph. This would accommodate most everyone’s daily commute or at least take a huge chunk out of the drive on petrol, saving money each day for the owner.

The X5 xDrive45e comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder twin-turbo-powered engine along with an electric motor that puts out a very nice combined 389 horsepower. This propelled the nearly 5,000-pound vehicle to 60 mph in a very short 5.3 seconds. Yes, it would put us back in our seats whenever we pushed down on the accelerator.

The X5 comes with three different drive modes. The first is Hybrid, which is a combination of gas and electric motor driving and limits the electric-only mode to 68 mph. The second, Electric only, can be used up to 84 mph. Then there is Sport mode, which keeps the combustion engine on all the time for a sportier driving experience and allows for more battery regeneration from the engine and when braking.

We would switch to Sport mode whenever we wanted to feel the suspension tighten up, get the engine growling just a little more and, of course, inject more attitude into the power plant. This gave us more of a thrill when accelerating and helped us feel more in control when cornering.

Inside, the new version of the X5 was loaded with all kinds of technology and comfort. It seemed the engineers took everything they could think of to make the vehicle better on the inside and found a way to make it so.

To start, how about wireless Apple CarPlay? BMW is the first automaker to use this kind of technology, and we find it very nice to eliminate the wire and use our phones wirelessly inside the vehicle.

We also became enthralled with the gesture technology now included in new BMW vehicles. The X5 has a huge 12.3-inch iDrive screen that controls everything from the audio system and vehicle setup to climate control via the BMW twist and push knob on the center console. With the gesture technology, however, the functions can also be controlled simply by moving your hand a certain way in front of the screen. For example, if we wanted the radio louder, making a clockwise circle in the air would do it, while a counterclockwise motion turned it down.

The second new 12.3-inch LED screen sits in front of the driver and contains all the information needed to drive the car, even displaying a navigation map in the middle. Our test ride also came with a heads up display that was full color and had all kinds of informational tricks up its sleeve.

Navigational information would appear to point us toward any destination we put in. We also found we could change the radio station favorites by simply rolling a switch on the steering wheel, causing the list to appear in the windshield. This allowed us to choose any of our favorite stations with a flick of our thumb and a press of the same button.

Selecting a new destination, changing the color of the interior lighting or making a phone call was accomplished simply by pressing the voice recognition button and voicing a command. We found it to be one of the easiest ways ever to get to a destination. We just said the address as we would in normal conversation, and the BMW assistant would take us to wherever we needed to go.

Aside from these technological advances, the X5 was loaded with safety features, including Blind Spot Monitoring, Front Collision Detection and Mitigation, Pedestrian Detection and Rear Cross Path Detection. Also included was a great adaptive radar cruise control that came with lane keep assist. This system kept the vehicle centered in the lane very nicely; it was easily one of the better systems we have experienced.

About the only complaint we could come up with is the lane departure system that would engage after 40 mph when the lane keep assist was not engaged. The first time it took over, it scared us as it turned from the lane marker very quickly, seeming as if it would soon cross into the opposite lane.

Other systems of this type would gently nudge us away from the lane line; this was more than a gentle nudge. After a couple of days, we figured out how to turn it off as it got somewhat annoying.

The inside of the BMW was extremely intoxicating, with heated everything, real wood accents and leather seats that were so comfortable to sit in. It was like being at home in our favorite chair for the entire ride. The designers even included heated and cooled cup holders — now that really is adding everything they could possibly dream up.

If extreme luxury and technology combined with performance are what you’re looking for in an SUV, go see the newly redesigned BMW X5 today.

Base price: $65,400

Destination charge: $995

Price as driven: $81,695

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