If you are feeling the need to go a bit green – automotively speaking that is, and who isn’t? – yet you seek a boldly beautiful and very powerful, luxury mid-size SUV – and who doesn’t? – then look no further than the 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e. Make no mistake, this is no ordinary plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). There is much to love about this beautiful Bimmer I recently test drove for a week that has a base price of $65,400. It’s also eligible for the full $7,500 federal rebate, plus the state rebate – up to an additional $1,500 depending on your state of residence. That too is a lot of green, financially speaking of course.
The aesthetically appealing exterior of the 45e has smooth lines, yet also has Uber macho fender bulges and on my ride, optional 21” M Y-spoke bi-color wheels. This made it a veritable showstopper when parked anywhere. Those wheels were made even cooler still with the optional $650 M Sport blue calipers visible between the spokes. The oversize grill is ferociously handsome. The interior resembles a high-tech cockpit. It’s lavishly elegant and spectacular with Vernasca leather. Sixteen-way power front seats with multi-contour seating is extremely comfortable and certainly worth the extra option at $750. Ditto the heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and heated armrests that add just $250 to the tab.
This model boasts a 12.3-inch digital dashboard and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that was crisp, clear and intuitively simple to operate. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android are standard. The iDrive controller next to the center console works very well too, but I always tapped away on the user-friendly touchscreen.
The Executive Package – an additional $4,050 and completely worth it – includes a glass gear shift control that easily doubled as the Hope Diamond and engaged my inner royal aspirations, a blissfully oversized panoramic sky lounge LED roof, second row manual window shades, four zone climate control, Harman Kardon surround sound, wireless charging and Wi-Fi hotspot.
The battery for this PHEV is located in the base so there is no cargo space sacrifice. There is 33.1 cubic feet of space with the second row in place and 56.5 cubic feet when folded, which is ample enough for stealth shopping, lugging luggage or serious sports enthusiasts.
The 45e is a supremely powerful drive. Its 282 horses are turbocharged with 3.0-liter Twin Power Turbo inline 6-cylinders. Combined with a 112 horsepower electric motor results in 389 ponies with 443 pounds-feet of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission powers standard all-wheel drive. All of this means driving the 45e doesn’t feel like a green SUV at all, not even greenish, even though it certainly is. There are six drive modes: Electric, Hybrid, EcoPro, Sport, Adaptive and Individual. If using all electric, the range is 30 miles owing to a 24 kilowatt-hour-battery. This is 10 miles more than other mid-size, luxury plug-in SUVs currently available.
Going fast in EV mode is a breeze; I clocked 75mph but could have gone a bit faster though didn’t want to come face-to-face, or rather mask-to-mask, with any hovering Highway Patrol people. Hybrid mode gets you a whopping 50 MPGe which is green enough for me to enjoy an SUV with this much space, luxury and comfort. Personally, I loved driving in Sports mode where I could rev up the engine, engage my need for speed and go from 0 to 60 in five seconds. The 45e has a 3.7kW on board charger. In a perfect world, it would have been a bit larger. A full 100-percent charge takes just over five hours. But I don’t live in a perfect world and though I am wildly impatient, I’m fine with plugging in nightly to be able to be smugly green in the morning and get great mileage. So much so that this wonderfully performing beauty will likely be my next new car.
Indeed the BMW X5 xDrive 45e makes perfect sense to be weekday green, especially for those who in the non-pandemic era have 30 miles or less to commute to the office – remember those? Then when the weekend rolls around, the perfect warrior awaits to take you wherever you want to go in style, comfort and with plenty of speed. Owing to the incredibly talented engineers and designers at BMW, the X5 xDrive 45e proves that there is no time like the present to go green.