BMW X5 xDrive40e – First Drive


BMW has made several announcements in the past few weeks about upcoming PHEV models. Naturally, with the ICE engines hitting the efficiency limits, many manufacturers are turning to plug-in hybrid solutions to keep up with reduced emissions levels.

The first such vehicle to hit the US market from BMW is the X5 xDrive40e model. Why 40 you might ask? Well, it is actually a 4 cylinder engine with the new BMW modular structure. It’s the same architecture as the engine in the i8, so again BMW is reaping rewards from investing billions into the i program.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

Although you cannot even configure or read about the new X5 on, many dealers across the country began taking deliveries of demo models, and I was fortunate enough to drive one.

Sure, one could point out at the EPA sticker and notice the 13-mile range is low, but when you put in context of the weight of the car, it is not too bad for a 9 kWh battery.

Naturally, I started the car in MAX eDrive to experience how much torque there is in pure electric mode. To my relief, the vehicle does have about LEAF-like feel in EV acceleration, and is far better then the Porsche Cayenne I tested a year ago. X5 was driving in pure silent mode and if needed I could press the accelerator further down and the ICE engine kicked in very seamlessly.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

Moving on to other buttons, I decided to put the car in sport mode and was surprised to learn that the car will operate in sport mode while being in EV mode. As with the Audi A3 PHEV (tested earlier) a great unknown was whether you can shift gears in all EV mode. Compared to the Audi, the answer is no.

When the ICE engine was working in tandem with the electric motor located in the gearbox, the car was accelerating very well and knowing you are doing it on a 4 cylinder engine felt good.

No significant inside changes compared to the standard X5, with the exception of a new button to control EV mode. There are however some notable feature absence including: Dynamic Package, Third Row Seat and for some odd reason Park Assist. The trunk space is reduced by about an inch to fit the battery, but this reduction is not highly noticeable.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

With lots of competition in this segment heading to this market BMW X5 xDrive40e will be a great alternative to consider. Production has started in Spartanburg SC and you can head to the dealers to order one, or at least take it for a drive and don’t forget to plug it in after the test drive, as it takes about 3 hours at 3.7 kW rate to charge.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e

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29 Comments on "BMW X5 xDrive40e – First Drive"

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Acceleration 0-62mph in electric mode ?

It states “LEAF like”……

There’s no way its EV acceleration is even Leaf like since the electric motor is listed at 85 kw to the Leaf’s 80 kw. Being that the X5’s curb weight will be in the 5,000 lb. range since the heaviest gas version weighs that much and the Leaf weighs only 3,300 lbs. then in EV mode the X5 will be a dog.

Final drive ratio will factor more into acceleration times. Its not just as simple as more power = more go-fast juice. Its physics.

You don’t know much about physics if you think final drive will affect acceleration from a motor outputting a certain power.

80kW is 80kW, regardless of whether it’s 800Nm at 950rpm or 100Nm at 7600rpm. Both motors will have the same acceleration when geared optimally to the wheels, assuming similar power curve shapes.

The only reason torque matters for gas engines is that the figure is effectively a non-peak power measurement at lower rpm, and thus has practical value. Average power is all that matters for acceleration.

At 3hrs, using 3.7kw, it sounds like the 9kwh may be the “usable” figure of an ~11kwh battery.

No, it’s measuring 3.7kW on the AC side. If you take the normal on-board charger efficiency into account, you still get 9kWh usable battery energy.

The battery reserves and actual nominal capacity is unrelated.

MSRP $62,100? so 1K cheaper than expected or? Got a full picture of the sticker by any chance?

How smooth are the transitions between electric and gas? How’s the brake feel?

No 3rd row seat, 11 mile EV range with EV acceleration of a Leaf and a starting price of $63K. Not very compelling.

A Tesla S70 starts for only $7K more or about the same after the tax rebate. It has much better performance, over 200 miles EV range and even more cargo volume than the CUV X5.

The S70 has 26 cu. ft. In back and 5 cu. ft. In the frunk vs. 23 cu.ft. for the gas version of the X5. The X5 40e will have even less than that since the stated that it loses an inch to the battery.

Let’s be fair for a moment. First of all, the range is 13 miles, not 11. That may not sound like much, but it is a 16% difference.

Second thing is this vehicle is a much larger vehicle and appeals to the SUV crowd. It has unlimited range, where a Tesla is still dependent on the skeleton charging infrastructure we have.

I agree it would be a lot more compelling if the range we at least double (26 miles) what it is currently.

You’re coorect, I don’t know why I typed 11 miles but 13 is pretty low. I think why these low power, low range plugin versions bother me so much is that they could be really great but instead they are all uninspiring. This is a $63,000 BMW! Make it $70,000 by putting in a 225 kw motor for a real EV driving mode. Then think of what it could do in hybrid mode. That would really give the consumer reason to pause on deciding between a low EV range but fun to drive PHEV vs. a high EV range fun to drive pure EV like the Tesla. They don’t have to make the EV mode 100 hp or under like all of them are doing. It’s not like an ICE engine in that a larger electric motor would reduce efficiency when not being driven hard. Put it in Eco mode to reduce the output of the motor electronically to maximize range and then in Sport mode for the maximum EV driving experience. I suppose the reason they aren’t doing this may have something to do with the smaller packs not having a high enough C rate for that kind of… Read more »

I totally agree.

BMW is quite experienced with high C-rates, too, as seen in the i8.

As far as the X5 being a much larger vehicle it really isn’t. It looks bigger which I guess is marketable to the SUV crowd but when you look at the numbers for passenger volume and cargo volume the Tesla is actually bigger. It just sits lower and doesn’t look like an SUV.

Wow – looks like ClipperCreek landed a deal with BMW to supply their portable EVSEs. I wonder if that includes a 240V version in Europe…

It is doubtful that BMW uses any Clipper Creek design in Europe. VW did the same thing with the North American e-Golf. You get a 120V EVSE of the same design as the Clipper Creek PCS-15 (120V 12A) but it is actually manufactured by Delphi in VW’s case.

Volvo did it the “right” way in my opinion. They will include the dual voltage TurboCord (120V & 240V) with the XC-90 T8 in the United States.

I have a BEV i3 in The UK and that EVSE looks identical to my 240V one.

I test drove the Audi A3 e-tron this past weekend. You can not switch gears in Electric-only mode.

That’s so lame. The electric motor is between the ICE and the transmission. They should let you use the transmission to get better efficiency at speed.

Also lame is the fact that Audi left no space to store the Level 1 charger. At least the Volt has a spot under the rear trunk. The Audi charger is much bigger and takes up a fair amount of space. I wish there was a faster on board charger as well as the new Q7 MMI –

On the plus side I didn’t notice any difference in the size of the rear boot on the Audi compared to their A3 ICE cars. The car does have a decent amount of room inside and I was told the ICE could fully recharge the battery – which is a huge plus. I wish the Gen 2 Volt (and others) could do this.

The Volt has “mountain” mode which uses the gas engine as it’s driving to actually add charge to the battery. It will only charge this way to half full but since the old Volt has a 38-40 mile EV range then you will get the same 20 mile charge up that you would get in the A3 when it is full.

The 2016 Volt has a 53 mile EV range so you would probably get 26 miles in “mountain” mode which is greater than the entire full battery range of the A3.

So what is the point of this car exactly? 13 mile range is all but useless, and after 13 miles it gets 24 mpg?

Well, I guess if you were set on getting an X5, this PHEV version is still way better than the standard ICE version.

24 MPG gas.


13 Miles on electricity.

MSRP: $74,420

’nuff said.

Would be interesting to know about the misguided soul(s) who actually buy this thing.

I am one of those misguided souls. I love it!!!

13 miles is useless, useless like BMW 2&3 series Plug In. There should be a minimum range of 25 miles to get incentives, some countries do it right. Pricing for such car ..some extras and you have a Tesla.

This COULD be hte gateway drug not to full electrics, but to PHEVs with even larger batteries (i.e the classic “commute electric, but do longer distances on gas” – essentially the Volt model). Unfortunately, the jury is out on just how many X5 buyers will perceive this as materially different from the other X5 iterations. Like the Volt it will probably be confusing to prospective buyers, likely won’t be pushed by the dealers, and is more expensive than some iterations of the car. Combine that with cheap gas prices and a less than pure EV driving experience (i.e. multiple gear transmission) and this one is going to likely be an uphill battle all the way…

Well, at present the production of the 2016 X5 d has been stopped without explanation or a resume date!