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U.S.-made next-gen 2021 BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV debuts with big horsepower bump

BMW has unveiled the next-generation of its plug-in hybrid X5 SUV.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The second-generation of the BMW X5 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has debuted featuring more horsepower, a quicker zero to 60 mph time, and a long list of fresh technology. It also has a super ultra-low emissions vehicle rating (SULEV), which can benefit owners as the vehicle qualifies for high occupancy lane access stickers.

Dubbed the 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e, the model is only sold as a PHEV. It is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that replaces the last-gen's 2.0-liter twin-turbo-four. The engine is paired with a 24 kilowatt-hour battery (double the previous model's capacity) and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e The model retains much of the exterior elements of the traditional X5 model.Photo courtesy of BMW

The new battery allows the car to have a maximum all-electric speed of 84 mph (75 mph in the previous model) and more than double the all-electric range - now 30 miles. With the rear seats up, cargo space is only 0.8 cubic feet less than the standard X5. With the rear seats folded, cargo space is 1.1 cubic feet less.

Combined power is 389 horsepower, an 81 horsepower increase from the last edition, and 443 pound-feet of torque (up 111 pound-feet). The powertrain moves the X5 xDrive45e from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, making it 1.2 seconds faster than before.

Drivers have three drive modes to choose from: Hybrid, Electric, and Sport. Hybrid is the default at start up and allows the car's computers to decide the best use of gasoline and electric power based on driver input. Electric-only driving is capable up to speeds of 68 mph in this mode.

Using Electric mode, the X5 xDrive45e can go up to 84 mph. To get back to Hybrid mode, the driver simply has to push the throttle back down through the kick-down position or push the button on the center console. Sport drive mode utilizes only the gasoline engine and allows for aggressive energy regeneration from engine and mechanical braking.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Its grille is big but so is its horsepower boost.Photo courtesy of BMW

Sport isn't just a mode. BMW has given the X5 xDrive45e the ability to deliver an engaging drive experience. It has a double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, which make it agile. Its standard Dynamic Damper Control system uses electronically controlled shock absorbers.

The X5's ride height can be changed among five selectable levels at the touch of a button. The driver is also able to adjust the body's ground clearance for off-road driving to a maximum of 1.6 inches above the standard setting. Another button lowers the car's height by 1.6 inches to make loading and unloading of the vehicle easier.

BMW equips the car with standard 19-inch V-spoke Style 734 wheels that are wrapped in 265/50R19 all-season run-flat tires. Two 20-inch and two 21-inch wheel options are available.

The SUV is offered in the buyer's choice of nine paint finishes.

A factory-installed available trailer hitch allows the SUV to be rated for up to 7,200 pounds of towing capacity.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e BMW offers the car with three drive modes, which are activated using buttons on the center console.Photo courtesy of BMW

The cabin of the X5 xDrive45e is upholstered in standard Sensatec material in either Canberra Beige/Black or in Black. Buyers can upgrade to Vernasca Leather in their choice of five colors: Ivory White, Canberry Beige, Coffee, Cognac, or Black. Additionally, BMW Individual Extended Merino Leather is available as an option Ivory White, Coffee, Tartufo, Black, and Ivory White/Navy Blue.

There are stripe wood high gloss interior accents on the interior in the base model. Alternatively, buyers can choose Aluminum Tetragon, Aluminum Dark Mesh, Brown-Metallic Ash Grain Wood, Fineline Stripe Brown High Gloss Wood, or Anthracite Brown Poplar Matte Finish Wood.

In front of the driver is BMW's Live Cockpit Professional which includes a high-resolution 12.3-inch instrument cluster. A 12.3-inch infotainment screen sits at the center of the dashboard. The system offers haptic controls for the iDrive controller, an advanced tablet-like touch interface. Additionally, there are two USB-C ports and Bluetooth capability. The SUV comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Google Assistant, Google Maps, music streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music and the WhatsApp messaging service are now available to both iPhone and Android users.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Three different types of upholstery are available in the new SUV.Photo courtesy of BMW

The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e is available with a wide variety of standard and optional driver assistance systems. The standard Active Driving Assistant includes blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear collision warning, front collision warning and pedestrian with city collision mitigation (which now also alerts the driver if cyclists are detected) rear cross traffic alert, and speed limit information.

Adding the Driving Assistance Professional Package gives drivers access to adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, including the ability to stop the car and pull away again automatically after being stationary for up to 30 seconds. Lake keeping assist with active side collision protection; evasion aid, which reacts to pedestrians; and front cross traffic alert are also included.

A drive recorder is available with the Parking Assistance Package and uses cameras of the various driver assistance systems to record video footage from the front and/or rear view points of the vehicle before storing the recordings. The saved video files can be either watched later on the center control display when the car is stationary or exported via the USB port. When activated, the drive recorder shoots and stores up to 40 seconds of video. In the event of a collision, a period of up to 20 seconds around the moment of impact is automatically recorded and saved.

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Two 12.3-inch screens make up the displays at the front.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW makes the X5 xDrive45e at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The model goes on sale later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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