Behind the WHeel

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Review: Electrification gives the X5 a boost but it's not enough

The new plug-in hybrid variant of the BMW X5 gets its electrified components right, but other features wrong.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW X5 is very nearly a perfect luxury SUV in many regards. It blends the utility of a true SUV with the power and performance of a modern day crossover. It's been a staple of the BMW lineup for generations now, improving with each refresh.

What makes the BMW X5 so good each go-round isn't an absolutely loaded-up, tech-heavy cabin. It isn't the fuel economy or split liftgate utility or comfortable seating, though it has all of those. It isn't even the fuel economy. The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 45e combines every one of those factors into a fabulous two-row SUV package, but there is more than one catch.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e The car looks like a bigger X3 or a smaller X7. Either way, it's not unique.Photo courtesy of BMW

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

The problem with the BMW X5 is that it's just never as good as I want it to be. I want to like it more, but I just can't get there with it. Some of that may be the sameness factor. The X5 looks like it is wholly a product of the BMW parts bin. The exterior is just a bigger X3 or smaller X7. It's fine, it's just not unique, even when equipped with the M Sport package, which adds black accents to the exterior.

The sameness issue persists in the interior, where nearly every switch, dial, and display has been brought over from the BMW parts bin to execute a design that looks like it could have been pulled from nearly any of the brand's cars or SUVs.There's an abundance of dark plastic that easily collects dust and drop from liquid but there's also plenty of leather and soft-touch surfaces.

The X5 xDrive45e's plug-in hybrid powertrain is new for the 2021 model year. It gets 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque from its 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, which is paired with a 24-kilowatt-hour battery. The battery affords 30 hours of all-electric range and helps with the car's acceleration off the line. To take full advantage of the extra get up and go, you have to press firmly on the accelerator and hold on. The X5 then takes off, making pulling out into traffic and getting up to speed a breeze.

Seats in the X5 are suitably plush and spacious.Photo courtesy of BMW

However, and this is a big however, the cabin doesn't seem stable enough to handle the oomph. There's plenty of lane wobbling before the car straightens out in the lane.

This isn't the only time drive dynamics are an issue in the X5. At low speed, the SUV steers like a full-size truck with plenty of wheel play. That's fine. At higher speeds, even with the Sport drive mode selected, the SUV's dynamics appear out of step with what BMW is known for. The X5 doesn't deliver the connected drive experience and engaging handling other BMW SUVs do. In this respect, the model's dynamics are very Lincoln-like.

The X5's cabin is a quiet and serene place. Not much road noise permeates the cabin of the SUV and the car's suspension is quick to absorb the road's bumps and dips. Over speed bumps, the weight of the xDrive45e's battery did not impede the drive or ride experience.

This model takes five hours to charge on a Level 2 (240-volt) charger. The EPA says that you're like to get about 400 miles of driving range when fully topped off but charging between stops can easily drive that number up. When the car's 30 miles of electric range are used up, it seamlessly switches from electric to hybrid power.

The 12.3-inch infotainment screen provides a good view of the necessary infotainment system options..Photo courtesy of BMW

Other issues with the car are common with the rest of the BMW lineup. Chalk it up to the sameness factor once again. The infotainment system finds itself taking over all musical operations of the vehicle when a phone is plugged in, even when not called upon to do so, immediately playing music when a user simply reads a text message or is browsing online, whether in the driver or passenger seat, even when the music functionality has not been activated. The only fix is to get the vehicle and phone to "forget" each other. In other manufacturer's vehicles, charging functionality does not perform like this.

Seating is comfortable and relatively spacious for an SUV of its size. There's nothing atypical there.

The X5's other big issues are safety related. The company's hands-on (as opposed to hands-free) Driving Assistance Professional Package includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality. In testing, the system did not appear to react to stopped traffic in time for a comfortable stop. This required human intervention, which canceled the assistance and required resetting.

Additionally, even a mild amount of sunshine seemed to interfere with the car's cameras' ability to "see" lane markings. This rendered the system mostly useless during daylight hours on a sunny day. Frequently, when sunshine appeared on one side of the vehicle, that side's lane-keeping system would not work, causing the vehicle to swerve.

The interior of the BMW X5 xDrive45e is similar to every other BMW SUV.Photo courtesy of BMW

At night, the problem persisted though not as badly. A light rain aggravated the situation causing the car to do a ping-ponging maneuver from lane line to lane line while traveling at speed requiring the system to need to be disengaged due to safety concerns.

The BMW X5 is so refined and polished in so many ways, but it just as many others, it's not ready for prime time. There are some really great things about the X5 xDrive45e, but it's certainly worth cross-shopping other vehicles to see if you like them better, especially considering the model's $65,400 price tag.

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European sports sedan

Grab this 2000 BMW M5 before someone else does

Classic good looks and a rowdy V8 are the story here.

Bring a Trailer

We could spend all day bemoaning the rise of car auction sites and their impact on prices, but that won't do any good. The damage has been done. Of course, there are exceptions to the sky-high pricing we typically see on auction sites, and some cars are worth the money. This 2000 BMW M5 is one of them, and its current auction bid of just $15,250 makes us think it could go for a decent price.

The E39 M5 is one of the most legendary and sought-aftersports sedans of all time. Its 4.9-liter V8 produced 394 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque when it was new, which isn't all that crazy by today's standards, but an almost 400-horsepower family car was a big deal at the time. That magical engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive – an enthusiast's dream recipe.

2000 BMW M5 This car is in great shape for its age.Bring a Trailer

Inside, this car's tan leather upholstery looks great, and matches well with its black exterior. The seller has kept mods to a minimum, with just a set of aftermarket headlights on the list of changes. The car's original navigation system and head unit appear to be in place and the entire package is so well preserved it's amazing that the car hasn't drawn more interest so far.

Where this M5 will end up is anybody's guess. These cars are particularly difficult to find in any condition that could be called drivable, so this car's relatively low $15,000 current bid amount is surprising. Commentors on this auction are just as surprised as we are, and are asking where the love has gone for this M5. Of course, someone could swoop in at the last moment and start a bidding war, and with a full day left on the clock there's plenty of time for some action.

2000 BMW M5 The tan leather is nearly perfect.Bring a Trailer

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Updated crossovers

BMW Announces Updates for 2022 X3 and X4

The X3 and X4 get meaningful updates for 2022.


European luxury brands have fully embraced the SUV and crossover craze. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have all drastically increased their utility vehicle catalogs in recent years, but haven't forgotten fun and drivability along the way. BMW in particular offers several models, each of which can be had in high-performance variants or with performance options packages. Two, the X3 and X4, will receive meaningful updates for the 2022 model year, with new powertrain tech and upgraded standard features.

The standard vehicles will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. All X3 and X4 models will get an eight-speed automatic transmission, and most will get standard all-wheel drive. Only the base X3 sDrive model will miss out. Both the X3 and X4 will be available with a Dynamic Handling Package, along with various steering and suspension upgrades. A Performance Control feature will be available for X3 models equipped with the M Sport package and standard for all X4 models, which brings the ability to shift torque to the rear wheels for better traction.

2022 BMW X4 Because of its sloping roof, BMW calls the X4 a coupe.BMW

Both the X3 and X4 will also be available in performance-oriented forms. The M40i models will be powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. BMW says the engine is powerful enough to propel the crossovers to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.4 seconds and on to a stop speed of either 130 or 155 mph, depending on the tire.

BMW's Live Cockpit Plus system is standard for the X3, which includes a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 5.1-inch color display in the center of a traditional gauge cluster. X4 models and upgraded X3 models will get a digital gauge cluster that measures 12.3 inches, along with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Called Live Cockpit Professional, the system is based on BMW's latest iDrive 7.0 software and can display information such as maps and vehicle data directly in front of the driver. BMW says that iDrive 7.0 allows the vehicles to be updated over-the-air to add new digital services and keep vehicle systems running properly.

2022 BMW X4 Both the X3 and X4 will be available in high-peformance M models.BMW

If you're hoping to get ahold of the new X3 or X4, production will begin in August 2021 at BMW's Spartanburg, SC facility. Pricing will begin at $43,700 for the X3 and $51,800 for the X4. Both vehicles will be subject to a $995 destination charge and taxes.

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