Behind The Wheel

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e — Sophisticated Utility

2021 BMW X5Model tested: 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e M-Sport

Engine: 3-liter twin turbo inline 6-cylinder

Transmission: 8-speed sport automatic w/paddle shifters

Horsepower: 335

Torque: 330 lb.-ft.

EPA rating: gas 20/combined, gas and electric 50/combined

Base price: $65,400

As tested: $81,695

Overview: One perk of this job is courtesy manufacturer loans when traveling out of town. A heartfelt “thanks” to Rene Serrato of the Atlanta office of Prestige Auto Specialists for the loan of our test vehicle during our annual Southern family vacation. The 2021 BMW X5 is an exceptional high-performance luxury crossover SUV that seats seven. For 2021, it debuted an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid called the xDrive45e — our test vehicle — which included the optional M-Sport package. This review focuses exclusively on that vehicle.

Walkaround: The handsome, yet conservatively styled X5 succeeds in delivering both luxury and utility, boasting a wide grille, substantial air intakes and LED headlights. Its understated profile features a roofline unchanged for generations, with a gentle slope and a slight flare over the rear wheels.

2021 BMW X5Interior: The cabin is tastefully finished in wood, metallic trim and leather. Our test-driver showcased white Vernessa leather as part of the available executive package — which, while raising the luxury level, naturally adds to the price as well. Front seats are comfortable, heated, cooled and multi-adjustable. The rear seat’s upright seating position provides good headroom. With more than 37 inches of legroom, it can seat three adults without crowding the center passenger. A third-row seat is optional, but not exactly practical. The flat, low cargo floor offers 33.9 cubic feet of space and 72.3 with the second row folded. Thanks to the low floor and fold-down, two-piece split tailgate, cargo loading was easy — accommodating vacation luggage for two adults and a teenager. Using the X5’s highly sophisticated technology can present challenges, testing the patience of those unfamiliar. Once understood, its use can be quite beneficial. For example, outward visibility is somewhat problematic, with blind spots over the driver’s shoulder. The optional surround-view cameras and parking sensors address that. Plus, there’s optional automatic parking, but it’s buried in the camera menus. The challenge is knowing how and where to look for solutions.

Behind the Wheel: The new plug-in hybrid xDrive45e does the 0-60 drill in 5.3 seconds, helped by the smooth, 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW married the 335-horse inline-6 to batteries and an electric motor, giving it 31 miles of all-electric range with no loss in acceleration. The plug-in hybrid xDrive45e gets 20 mpg without the batteries, but when combined, the turbo-6 earns a 50-MPGe efficiency rating from the EPA. On the highway, the ride is smooth, comfortable and quiet. Handling is excellent, with little body lean in hard corners, thanks to standard independent suspension with adaptive dampers delivering a firm, well-controlled ride. Air springs lower or raise the suspension by 8.7 inches for highway or off-road driving. The X5 can tow up to 7,209 pounds.

Bottom Line: The 2021 BMW X5 M xDrive45e is a great sports crossover, featuring what seems like an infinite combination of drive-mode programs — although finding the perfect combination can be work. However, the 2021 BMW X5 delivers luxury and family utility — in one stylish, indulgent package.