1,200-Mile BMW X5 xDrive40e Review & Performance Delivery

2 years ago by Michael Beinenson 29

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

Many articles and opinions have been written about the X5 xDrive40e (40e), especially on the 13 mile 14 mile EPA rated range (*see below on changes), this summary doesn’t focus on its limited electric range.

This article is about BMW Plug In Hybrid Technology, and it previews what’s to come in the 740e, 330e and the next Xe (perhaps an X3e), and how that technology is now being applied in the BMW X5 xDrive40e

Being a family of 2 BEVs and one ICE, my wife was never comfortable with giving up an SUV size car and going all electric. Sure, she takes one of the BEVs to drive, but her preference has always been a large vehicle. Of course we could start a discussion on the Model X, but with so much uncertainty there, we’ve made a decision to go PHEV. After watching the concept 40e for months, it was finally time to order, and being close to Spartanburg, SC I have decided to pick up the car (with my friend) there:

Few words about BMW Performance Center: Highly Recommended.

If you are planning to pick up an X5 (or perhaps an i8) you should see if that option is available to you. BMW really take cares of you, and you might learn a few new things about driving your vehicle. For instance, I never knew about X5’s ability to steer while ABS is engaged, and it can make a huge difference in an emergency situation.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

The first thing we tried to do of course with the 40e was to drive it in full electric mode, aka MAX eDRIVE mode.

Although you can use that in the urban areas and for a short trip to the store, the experience was just OK. It was quick to accelerate in the first second or so, but the weight of the car really made the experience marginal after that.

Unlike the i8, where the front wheels are electrically driven, the 40e has the electric motor located in the transmission, making 4×4 electric driving possible. Surprisingly, the transmission is shifting while in MAX eDrive mode. I can feel about 3 gears before the road response gets too loud to notice.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

What we concluded is that you should let the car be in AUTO, which lets it decide when to fire the engine and when not to. BMW has done a great job on this, especially drawing on some great experience from the ActiveHybrid program.

The 40e shifts from EV to ICE without any hesitation, and is very unnoticeable. Even if you began acceleration in MAX eDrive (EV) and you just need to give it a bit more power, the ICE will rev up to the proper RPM and engage the transmission.

In Comfort mode and AUTO eDrive, the car will sort of teach you to keep acceleration low and thus keep the car in EV mode as long as possible, so as to not to engage the ICE.   Again if you have to, it is very seamless. Even if the ICE is engaged, eBoost provides power from electric motor to decrease ICE load and save fuel.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

You have probably seen the Auto Start/Stop Ignition button on BMWs for some time, and in the 40e it has been deleted. The AUTO mode takes over the management of that function. If needed, it can be quickly overridden by moving the gear lever into M/S mode and the ICE will be always on.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

There is a SAVE battery mode as well. It was created for Congested Charge locations in Europe – like London, and it should probably stay there. Reason: MPGs. Once you engage the mode to bring the battery back to 50% (that is the max) the fuel economy drops to around 15MPGs (based on my own experience), so probably not going to be used often.

What is odd about 40e driving styles (Comfort/Sport/Eco Pro), is that the ECO Pro mode is designed for max coasting vs. max regen. To get max regen you have to be in Sport Mode. If you choose Sport Mode in AUTO eDrive, you are almost always firing the ICE, so I am not in agreement on this one with BMW. But if you are in MAX eDrive mode and Sport Mode, you can feel the additional regen. It would be preferable to have the choice of regen modes in settings.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

EV Range:

Sure the 13 miles (*update: now upgraded/rounded up to 14 miles on window sticker – see below) seems very small (it is actually closer to 18 in real life), but you have to note the car does get 70 MPGs when the battery is fully charged. Once the battery is fully depleted, which is around 30 to 40 miles of driving in AUTO mode, you are down to 25 MPGs which is still not bad for this car.

The power comes from a 4 cylinder Twin Turbo Engine. Yes, it’s a X5 with a turbo. But the SUV is still incredibly powerful as it uses the electric motor to give you that extra boost, and therefore you feel absolutely no Turbo lag. To get the max power out of the car make sure you select Sport in the driving style selector and change the transmission lever to M/S. This will disengage the Auto Start/Stop function and you will feel how powerful this 4 cylinder engine is. Rumor has it, the design is borrowed from the 3 cylinder i8 engine, but I have not been able to confirm that.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

Interior:

Typical X5, but with some changes because of the eDrive. Only one extra button is added, and the Auto Start/Stop is different. What you lose with the 40e is 2 vertical inches in the trunk; no 3rd row seating (Volvo XC-90 T-8 actually has a third row); Dynamic Handling Package.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

Charging:

I like how most PHEV manufacturers are moving the charging door to the upper left panel. It makes charging a lot easier and you can pull in and out from any charging stations better. (Of course Mercedes did not get the message, and placed their charing door on the rear right side of the bumper).

At 3.6 kW the car gets to full in about two and half hours. I do see other upcoming PHEVs from BMW to be at this rate, as it makes no sense to charge a 9 kWh battery at a 7.2 kW rate. However, the 40e team did not get the message from the i team about unlocking the charging port door when fully charged. Something they need to implement across all eDrive vehicles is to have the user select this preference in the vehicle settings.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

The app:

This probably needs an entire new article. Message to BMW i3 app team: You should go see what 40e app looks like and take a few lessons. I think the app is designed a lot better. You can unlock doors, lock doors, initiate horn and flash lights. Check efficiency, see all electric mileage, and of course precondition and set departure times. A nice little function that enables you to have a the perfect temperature car when you want it. The 40e also allows you activate climate control when you leave for a short period of time.

Where the app shines the most is in the tutorials. You can read about all eDrive feature and techniques in the app’s tutorial and I think it is a huge advantage of this app compared to i3.

Inconsistencies of eDrive ownership experience:

If you drive an i3, you will notice a few changes in features. For example, the  i3 with tech package will only use emergency collision braking between 6 and 37 miles per hour. While the 40e with the same feature will do so even at highway speed.

The 40e also comes with lane departure assist and blind spot warning, something i3s should (and must) implement in the future since both cars use the same camera on the windshield. For some reason BMW decided not to include charging port covers in all front left doors, while the i3 has both J1772 and CCS cover.

BMW x5 xDrive40e - Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

BMW x5 xDrive40e – Image Credit: Michael Beinenson / InsideEVs

Conclusion:

I think BMW is going in the right direction to introduce their first PHEV vehicle on the US market. If other models follow this trend, BMW will have a big advantage compared to other manufacturers.

If your are thinking about buying a PHEV, you need to be certain about one thing: If your daily commute is 30 to 50 miles round trip, this car is for you; and if can charge at work even on 110v, you will get the most out of the car. However, if you put 1,500+ miles a month on your vehicle, you will not gain the fuel efficiency you would expect and you are probably driving tons of highway miles, therefore perhaps a diesel is better for you. After 1,200 miles my wife loves the car and as you know: Happy Wife = Happy Life!

*Editor’s Note: As we were preparing this article for print a new Monroney sticker was mailed to the author. For yet unexplained reasons, the MPGs went down from 59 to 56 miles while EV range increased to 14 (likely a rounding up of the 13.X miles previous). As soon as we hear more we will report on this development. 

New Monroney

New Monroney

Official Detailed EPA Ratings

Official Detailed EPA Ratings

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29 responses to "1,200-Mile BMW X5 xDrive40e Review & Performance Delivery"

  1. evcarnut says:

    Happy Wife = Happy Life l m a o She’s Got Your Number !

  2. mustang_sallad says:

    “the car does get 70 MPGs when the battery is fully charged. Once you the battery is depleted, which is around 30 to 40 miles of driving in AUTO mode, you are down to 25 MPGs which is still not bad for this car.”

    This is why people need to stop bitching about PHEV’s with 7-10kWh batteries

    1. vdiv says:

      Oh, no, especially not for large vehicles like this with the space and payload capacity. If a plugin motorcycle can have a 16 kWh battery today there is no excuse for this vehicle to have half of that.

      1. mustang_sallad says:

        It’s a questions of market viability, not technical feasibility.

        1. vdiv says:

          Indeed it is. When BMW sells as many of these as GM did with the Volt without trying at all let me know.

          1. mustang_sallad says:

            This car is already actually selling pretty well in its first two months, but I take your point: I wouldn’t compare this against the Volt (totally different segment), but you might be right that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV or the Audi Q7 will sell better than this thing thanks to more significant EV mode performance. But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be room for these types of PHEVs to displace HEVs and knock them out of the water in terms of overall MPGs.

  3. Alaa says:

    Gee how come they lost the war?

    1. David Murray says:

      If you are referring to WWII Germany, it certainly wasn’t for their technology. Their tanks were much better than everyone elses, as were their aircraft. They even had jet engines by the end of the war.

      1. vvk says:

        > Their tanks were much better than everyone elses, as were their aircraft.

        This is a very common misconception. This was not true at the beginning of the war and it certainly was not true at the end of the war, when Germany was severely deprived of oil, materials and labor resources. Soviet Union had vastly superior tanks, airplanes, ships and guns. It also had more of them, by an order of magnitude. Soviet production of technologically superior arms was vastly increased before and during the war and it was getting huge amounts of raw materials, vehicles, tanks, airplanes and supplies from the United States and United Kingdom.

        For example, the Soviet diesel powered T-34 tank was far, far ahead of anything Hitler was able to scramble up even by the end. It was fundamentally more suited for combat by having: a) revolutionary rear mounted transaxle, which significantly reduced its profile; b) diesel fuel was non-flammable vs extremely flammable gasoline used exclusively by Germany; c) 500 hp was far, far more than anything Germany had, leading to vastly superior speed across the kind of terrain that they were fighting over; d) relatively powerful gun that Germany was unable to protect against initially; e) thicker armor that German tank guns could not penetrate; f) relatively low weight and narrow track, which made it compatible with Soviet railroad system, unlike German tanks that could not be easily transported by railroad (or indeed over most Soviet bridges.)

        I can go on for a very long time.

        1. sven says:

          You’re like the Energizer bunny! 😉

        2. EVcarNut says:

          Stick to the Subject Guys,,, Happy Wife= happy Life….L M A O …

  4. ct200h says:

    the wife drivess a hybrid suv and would do quite well on efficiency on the x5e
    lots of short 2-5 miles trips and time in the garage to charge. and some 25 mile rt
    runs to kids sporting events where the MPG would be quite good.

    1. Nate says:

      Agreed. We have a similar pattern with one of our vehicles, and typically this ends up being done with our ICE Sienna.

      Problem with this X5 PHEV personally (besides being more than I want to spend) is it has considerably less cargo space and seats 3 less than our Sienna. We make use of 6 of its 8 seats 5 days a week for a car pool that we alternate pickup one week and drop off the next. Plus, the extra seats really help when friends/relatives fly out to visit us. So for me, I like what Volvo is offering with there XC90 PHEV. But, there are plenty of 5 passenger CUV/SUV’s like this out there that other people do find useful. It is about time some of them started getting plugs, so hats off to BMW.

      More options for EV and PHEV’s are really needed. More choices with longer AER are needed, but not all of them need long AER. This is especially for the ones that replace sub 20mpg city rated ICE vans & _UVs that are sitting in the garage between trips.

    2. Michael B says:

      That is the primary use of the car in EV mode. Short distances with about 10 mile radius.

  5. Mikael says:

    Isn’t the Model S large enough?
    Do you know the cargo space of this thing?
    Thx

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      Model S
      26.3cf trunk
      58.1 seats down

      X5-xdrive40e
      34.2cf trunk
      72.5cf seats down

      XC90
      41.8cf trunk
      85.7 seats down

      1. Rich says:

        Thanks for the info. Once I saw the sticker price on the BMW at $85K my first thought was he could have bought a Tesla. I never used to pay attention to luxury ($80K+) vehicles on the road. Now I see them and am kinda discussed knowing those people could afford a Tesla and chose there gas chugging foreign (ship my money to middle class in another country) overpriced POS. I wonder if this is the “status symbol” they thought it would be when they bought it.

        1. Rich says:

          Michael, that wasn’t directed at you. Just a general rant regarding luxury cars like the 7 series, A8, and S-class. Congrats on the new PHEV.

          1. Michael B says:

            None taken. It is true the car is in the same price category as Tesla Model S. But we did not want a sedan.

        2. EVcarNut says:

          Rite 0N!

    2. Nate says:

      Mikael, for some folks (but not me) it is as much about the higher driving position and/or the ease of getting in/out of something not as low and not necessarily the cargo space. Some (not me) also like the styling and perceived safety of a SUV. In some areas, better ground clearance is handy. If cargo space was more important than these things to more people, there would be more Minivans and Wagons and less SUV/CUVs.

      I’m not saying that is the case here, but bottom line happy wife = happy life.

  6. Chris says:

    I can’t help but think a little bigger battery would allow for a stronger PULL and allow more “battery only” driving for those short trips to the store (which tend to get really bad gas mileage). Instead, it seems like EVERY trip in the X5 will have the gas engine running which is unfortunate. I suspect Volvo’s T8 will be SLIGHTLY better, but TBD. Honestly, a solid 30 miles on electric with 150 hp electric motor would go a long way toward improving the overall experience here.

  7. Alain says:

    Any car or truck With better fuel thanks to battery is great,thèses folks have 2 bevs ,There doing more than there part.

    1. Rich says:

      Agreed on both points.

    2. mustang_sallad says:

      *they’re their

  8. mr. M says:

    Omg, who does not know what ABS is? Really? ABS is invented to make your car drivable in emergency situations. Please do driving lessons again! I am sure they will teach you more awesome basics of driving a car.

    1. mr. M says:

      As a reaction to: “For instance, I never knew about X5’s ability to steer while ABS is engaged, and it can make a huge difference in an emergency situation.”

  9. Phr3d says:

    +1 on the ‘Performance Center’ plug – for the Not ‘Dear-God-ANYthing-But-a-BMW readers here, it is well worth the Quite Expensive fees, truly a bucket-list level experience that the wife and I highly recommend.
    The non-M course has you drive every genre of vehicle in the most car-brutalizing fashion imaginable to actually Feel and learn what to do in emergency situations – the stomp as hard as you can panic stop is Nothing that I would ever want put one of My own cars through, but nice to know how a good vehicle will perform if I was forced to do it (you stomp and steer your car into a narrow ‘channel’). Yes, Most cars are very good at this, but until you actually hafta’ Do it, etc. The slalom alone would at least harm a set of all-seasons.
    For those readers with their Own list, or stories from friends, of BMW drivers being complete ARSholes, I do feel ya’, we don’t appreciate being lumped there for their stupidity – I’d argue that the brand has an Image that makes the marque more memorable than the ditz in the Leaf that cut you off, but I am Clearly biased, so what’s the point?
    BMW sells a ton ‘o cars, and the Rest of us have survived the Yuppy thing, so we’ll obviously survive the All BMW Drivers Are Boy-racer Maniacs thing, as well.
    Anyone willing to foot the bill for BMW repairs of an older BMW (’85 7, 01 X5-wife) is not likely to beat the car up as is routinely and arbitrarily described so often here. My -gascap- stolen from my 01 X5 (why? it’s a plastic cap with No markings that hadda’ be Ripped from the car to steal it) is gonna set me back $220 with the .75 hour discounted labor to tear apart the filler area to remount it (looked/operated like new).
    -sigh- sorry, I DO go on..
    ♪ Oh Lord, wonca’ Buy me..
    a se-ven-ty D ♫

    1. Phr3d says:

      moved mouse and clicked – the “woncha’ buy me” was leading to:
      Michael you hit the WAF on the head, if we don’t get the 70D before the wife sees this X5e, I expect uhmm.. conversations. Thanks for an excellent write-up, hope you continue.