As hybrid cars increase in popularity, several manufacturers are presenting more and more offerings.
Starting 20 years ago with the short-lived GM EV1, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of advancement in technology progress from the drawing board to Canadian roads.
With Toyota’s Prius leading the charge for several years, the current landscape includes offerings from Kia, Nissan/Infiniti, Ford/Lincoln, Honda and many others.
Yes, there are electric vehicles available as well but as the technology is fairly new, and the associated costs aren’t within reach for everyone. Kinda like when CD players first came out and the cost was a few hundred dollars for a single CD player, let alone a multi-disc player.
Now, you can scoop up a CD player for far less, and the same (in time) will be applicable to electric cars.
For now, hybrid cars are a wonderful alternative to fuel-only vehicles, especially since a dark cloud has been cast upon diesel vehicles (thanks a lot, Volkswagen).
For 2016, the BMW X5 luxury SUV is now available with a plug-in hybrid option, their first BMW to offer this in North America. To me, this is a welcome addition to their fleet.
Usually, I start off the review with details about the exterior, but since the xDrive40e shares a body with the gasoline model, I’ll let the pictures do the talking on this one.
The only noticeable difference is the port beside the driver side door where you plug in the vehicle.
(Spoiler alert: The X5 is full of graceful design lines combined with an athletic stance and oozes luxury at first, second and third glance)
Let’s talk about what keeps the X5 XDrive40e in motion.
The engine is a small yet mighty 2.0L, turbocharged, four-cylinder motor mated to a 111-horsepower electric motor producing 308 total horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque.
On paper, it doesn’t seem all that impressive seeing as the eight-cylinder, 445-horsepower X5 i50 is an option. Keep in mind that with an electric motor, the torque is instant and this hybrid configuration sees the SUV sprint from 0-100 km/h in a mere 6.5 seconds. Not bad for moving 5,200 pounds of luxurious materials.
While you’re not considering this vehicle for the racetrack, it’s good to know that the X5 can get you up to speed quickly, whether you’re driving solo or have passengers and cargo inside.
The handing, cornering and performance aren’t compromised and the ride quality is, well, it’s typical BMW. Smooth, refined and lavish.
The electric motor, according to BMW, will move you 28 km in total. However, during my week with the car, I squeezed out nearly 50 km due to a light right foot and being a proactive driver.
If you’re a city slicker doing short jaunts, the fuel savings will probably the highest.
Impressively, the X5 can run up to 120 km/hr in EV mode, unlike some of its competitors.
There are three e-Drive modes: Auto, Max, and Save. Max is the default as it maximizes your battery use before the gas kicks in. Auto reacts to your driving habits, and Save lets you save the battery power for use at a later time.
A full charge can occur in seven hours via a 110V outlet in your garage, but with the surge in public charging stations in Mississauga, you can juice up your hybrid/electric can while you’re out and about.
Expect to see additional charging stations in the city in the coming months and years as the popularity and affordability of these cars increases.
As mentioned, the drive quality is terrific and the transition between the electric and gas motor is seamless. There’s no stutter or hesitation; it’s absolutely seamless. The only sign is that the tachometer jumps to life upon the swap.
The ECO/Comfort/Sport settings are best used in Comfort to balance power and smoothness for everyday driving.
As of the date of publishing, there are no official fuel economy figures on BMW’s Canadian website. What I can tell you is that after logging nearly 600 km of highway and urban driving, I scored 8.7 L/100km, which is fantastic for a full-sized SUV rolling on 85 L of premium fuel.
Basic math shows us that you can hover around the 1,000 km-to-a-tank range with the X5.
Expect fluctuations due to who/what’s in the car and if you’re in terrible Toronto traffic or cruising country roads.
Inside, it’s luxurious business as usual for the X5, with plenty of soft touch, high quality materials, comfortable seats, the latest in technology and as a treat, gorgeous ceramic controls.
The X5 xDrive40e has the cash register singing its opening tune at $74,000.
Add in a $2,900 Premium Seating Package with 18-way adjustable seats (Seriously, this thing is heavenly!) along with a wide suite of safety features, an upgraded premium Harman Kardon audio system, four zone climate control, running boards and a few other bells and whistles, and you’re in the $98,000 zone.
In stark contrast to that fellow from Decca Records who claimed "guitar groups are on the way out… the Beatles have no future in show business," hybrid and electric vehicles are here to stay.
With a host of new alternate fuel vehicles lined up for the coming years, BMW’s X5 xDrive40e is a strong option to consider if you’re in the market for a hybrid SUV.
You get all the luxury and driving dynamics of a BMW, a spacious and gorgeous interior and you’re saving cash on gas all while helping out everyone’s favourite gal, Mother Nature.
Whether you’re a Day Tripper or looking for a Ticket to Ride, BMW’s message to you is “Baby you can drive my hybrid car.”
(Lyrics by The Beatles and Jay Kana)
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