Entry Price: $62,100
Price as tested: $74,420
This week we're driving the 2017 BMW X5 "xDrive40e" the "e" standing for hybrid technology. The X models are built to conquer any highway while retaining the noted sports car expertise one expects when they buy a BMW. From its signature kidney grilles, sleek motifs and opulent interior, every BMW built today is a worthy road machine.
It's hard to imagine that back in 1955, BMW was close to automotive extinction. Thanks to BMW's Isetta 300, a "front door bubble car," BMW warded off bankruptcy and persevered in the car business while continuing to do well with its numerous successful motorcycle efforts.
The aforementioned Isetta 300 weighed just 750 pounds as power came from a 1-cylinder, 247-cc, 13-horsepower BMW motorcycle engine. It delivered 60 MPG, went 53 mph flat out and cost $1,048 when introduced to the U.S. market in 1958. By 1966, the compact BMW 1600 series became the darling of the college and youth market and the company never looked back.
Today, we're reviewing the modern marvel BMW X5 hybrid. Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, BMW calls the 2017 X5 a "Sports Activity Vehicle" instead of "Sport Utility Vehicle," which is merely a play on words.
What is not a play on words is BMW's dedication to introducing plug-in hybrids on many of its models from here on out. Our X5 tester featured both an electric motor and internal combustion, the latter handled by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 240-horsepower. When mated to the electric motor, you activate another 111-horses which is all mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
As with other engine-electric hybrids, you can't just add the two horsepower totals together and arrive at 352 horsepower. Specifically, when working in tandem neither the electric motor nor the internal combustion ever operates at top peak, resulting in an "averaged out" stout 308-horsepower. This allows acceleration from zero to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds and a computer controlled top speed of 130 mph.
If you select total electric around town, expect close to 16 miles on a full charge. When you combine the electric with the turbo four, you are looking at an amazing 56 MPG EPA estimate and if you are running strictly motor when the battery is discharged, you'll still get some 24 MPG from that little BMW turbo four.
Underneath, the upgraded X5 now features a lighter and stronger independent suspension which delivers an ultra-quiet ride on Pirelli 20-inch run flats on light alloy wheels.
Able to move families, deliver great fuel mileage and looking good sitting in any driveway in America. With a strong fully automatic 4x4 unit, independent suspension, advanced driver assist engineering and countless interior amenities, the X5 is in a class with few peers.
BMW dubs the electric X5 as "xDrive40e iPerformance," which means it's easier for me to call it the X5 hybrid. Additionally, it wasn't long ago when the words "hybrid" and "four cylinder" could not interact if you were talking spirited performance. Even turbocharging decades ago usually meant a "turbo lag" dead spot at low speed until the rise in engine RPM pushed more exhaust pressure to start turning the turbocharger. Today, all that talk has gone the way of the dinosaur.
Specifically, BMW utilizes special induction and exhaust systems to ward off those turbo lag demons. BMW's Twin Power Turbo relies on a "no hesitation response" from a common rail direct fuel injection system, which quickens the fuel charge to the intake valves and exits through special exhaust manifolds resulting in the words "Twin Powered Turbo" even though the X5 uses but one turbocharger, not two.
On the road, X5 is one of the best handling larger SUV's we've driven. The operator can choose from either Sport or Comfort modes while handling in either selection is very good. The interior is top class luxury as a Mocha Nappa Package features pure wood trim, leather seats and much more. The seats are firm without hindering comfort and hold you tight in the turns. Even the rear seating has the perfect curvature for most every passenger.
Our BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid came with a base price of $62,100, and then climbed to a final $72,420 as additional bells and whistles added another $12,340. Notable is the compact X1 gas engine model that starts at just $33,100.
As for safety, the best way to describe X5 is Five Star government crash ratings. This comes thanks to advanced air bag development, stability and traction controls, some of the best four-wheel ABS brakes in the industry with brake fade compensation, and numerous other high tech BMW items your dealer will explain.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 115.5 inches, 5,220 lb. curb weight, 22.4 gal. fuel tank, 8.2 inch ground clearance and up to 72.5 cu. ft. of cargo space with rear seats down.
In summary, you won't find many $74,000 BMWs, (gas or hybrid) on the sand dunes as these X5s are luxury SUVs made for negotiating snowy roads and delivering the BMW performance driving one expects. But it's nice to know if you desire a run in the sand or off-road trail adventure it's no problem.
Likes: Hybrid economy, looks, interior, safety, BMW heritage.
Dislikes: Navigation system learning curve, expensive options, optional $400 rear camera should be standard.
-- Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader input at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.