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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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The material Jaguar Land Rover is adding to its vehicle interiors is called Econyl.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

As automaker work toward more sustainable business practices, Jaguar Land Rover is working with Econyl nylon to develop high-quality interiors made from ocean and landfill waste. The automaker promises that next-generation Jaguar and Land Rover models will feature floor mats and trims made with Econyl fiber from recycled industrial plastic, fabric offcuts from clothing manufacturers, fishing nets from the farming industry, and those abandoned in the ocean– known as 'ghost nets'.

Econyl nylon was created by Aquafil. It's already been sued in the high-end fashion, sportswear, and luxury watch industries to create handbags, backpacks, swimwear, and watch straps. In one year, the company recycles as much as 40,000 tons of waste, making it in to the nylon. For every 10,000 tonnes of Econyl raw material produced, 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved and 65,100 tons of carbon emissions equivalent are avoided.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Jaguar Land Rover has committed to including more sustainable materials in its interiors.Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

Turning to sustainable materials isn't a new idea. For years Ford has been incorporating all manner of materials into its vehicles including tomatoes, soy, and coffee chaff from McDonald's. General Motors recently showcased a breakdown of how recycled materials are used inside their automobiles.

Bentley's facility in Crewe, England is collecting rainwater for use in its office building allowing the company to not have to draw from the local water system.

Each year automakers release their sustainability report, which champions all the ways that the company is moving forward in its resources conservation plans. This year's GM report sets forth numerous goals. Among them, by 2030, 50 percent of the parts used in General Motors vehicles will be made with sustainable materials. Additionally, GM's Spring Hill plant in Tennessee will run solely on solar power by 2022.

FCA made big strides in 2019. Their 2020 sustainability report touted their 40 percent reduction in water use and 27 percent carbon footprint reduction per vehicle.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

This week Polestar announced that its Precept concept vehicle is headed into production. When the Precept debuted a few months ago, the company bragged about its sustainable interior.

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Cadillac will give the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing carbon fiber seats.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac continues to tease its long-awaited Blackwing sedans. The company is using the Blackwing monknier to designate their top-performing models of the CT4 and CT5.

Those models will also wear the "V' designation and be given the full name Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing. They will both be 2022 model year vehicles.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing testing This CT5-V Blackwing was spotted testing at Virginia International Raceway, Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has slowly been leaking out details of the models, even as the market moves away from sedan sales. We know now know that Cadillac CT-5 Blackwing will feature racing inspired seats. According to the automaker, "The carbon fiber seat back will feature a precision book-matched design and laser-etched V-Series logo. The seats will also include other customer-centric innovations and features that will be announced at a later date."

Cadillac also confirmed that the model is a limited edition.

We already have seen a picture of the cars' interior. That photo showed a new performance steering wheel that is crafted with leather and cut-and-sewn stitching. It features a 12 o'clock red racing stripe, carbon fiber trim, and a V-Series emblem. That emblem is designed to envoke nostalgia for Cadillac's championship-winning heritage on the track. Cadillac has designed the wheel with driver ergonomics as a priority.

The new models will feature V-Mode and a Performance Traction Management system that can be accessed on the left- and right-hand side of the wheel, respectively.

Additional buttons on the steering wheel are more typical to the General Motors lineup. They feature heated steering wheel, follow distance, cruise control, phone call/Bluetooth, and volume controls.

Each V-Series Blackwing model will feature a specially tuned chassis, vehicle control technologies, and engines. The models will be offered with a manual transmission.

The CT5-V Blackwing will be available starting in summer 2021. Expect pricing to be around the $60,000 mark.

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