BMW OFFERS A PLUG-IN VERSION
OF ITS X5 SUV FOR 2016
BMW has another entry in the plug-in parade with the 2016 X5 xDrive40e midsize SUV, or Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW prefers.
Frankly, I’m not sure why, but it has naught to do with this particular vehicle. I’m just not a big fan of the craze for plug-in versions of hybrid vehicles. Too much bother for, in many cases, little benefit.
Yes, I understand why some people like them. They’re on the cutting edge of new technology driving around on electric power, which the X5 xDrive40e allows you to do. (For short distances, any way. I’ll get to that later.)
And I get it that if you’re going to have all-electric vehicles, you’ve got to have someway to charge them up.
But overall, I find the plug-ins a big pain.
That has something to do with my garage, which is more of a storeroom than a garage and the power outlet is about as far away from the front garage door as you can get. So when it comes to plugging in an electric car, I have to leave the garage door open and ease the nose of the vehicle as far as I can into the garage (which isn’t very far) so that I can get it as close as possible to the electric outlet.
But more then that, it takes forever to get maximum juice into the battery on regular household outlets.
Which means that if you have a plug-in, you probably should get one of the charging kits that speed up the charging process or at least hope that your place of work has charging stations and they’re not all occupied during the day.
And with the X5 xDrive40e, you’re going through all that to get 14 miles of driving on electric power only. Yes. That is one-four miles on electric power only. Or maybe a couple of miles more or less, depending on how much you’re pushing it. Top speed in electric mode is 75 mph, btw.
The good news with the X5 xDrive40e is that you don’t even have to fool around with plugging it in to enjoy the benefits of the hybrid setup, and you can have fun doing it. With 308 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from the combination of the 2.0 twin-turbo four-cylinder gas engine and the electric motor going to all four wheels via an eight-speed transmission, the zero-to-60 mph time is 6.5 seconds, according to the company.
That’s quite a performance from a vehicle in this class.
Individually, horsepower and torque from the electric motor, which gets the X5 xDrive40e moving even when you’re not in all-electric mode, is 111 hp and 184 lb.ft., which certainly is a nice kick in the butt when you’re getting out of an intersection. The turbo four gas engine alone is rated at 240 hp and 260 lb.-ft.
As for fuel mileage, in electric mode, the X5 xDrive40e is rated at 56 MPGe, but the gasoline only number is 24 mpg combined city/highway.
As one would expect of a vehicle coming from a company that boasts it builds the “ultimate driving machines,” the X5 xDrive40e is very nimble for a vehicle its size (just over 16 feet long with a curb weight of 5,220 pounds). It is firm through corners yet comfortable when cruising. And quiet.
There’s no question BMW knows how to handle luxury and performance in a good-looking package. Unlike the somewhat bulky, unattractive rear end on its larger sibling, the X6, the X5 xDrive40e looks good from any angle.
But when it comes to operation of the wealth of techno features the company incorporates into its infotainment system, the Teutonic influence on the German mind seems to come into play.
It just seems like in an effort to get where you want to go as far as the navigation, audio, and other systems, you have to make a couple of extra turns of the control knob on the center console to get there, not to mention deciphering what all those symbols on the screen mean and making sure you’ve dialed into the correct one. Apparently, there is no word for “user-friendly” in German. On the plus side, though, the high-resolution screen for the standard navigation system is a generous 10.2 inches.
Pricing for the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e starts at $63,095 including the $995 destination and delivery charge. Among standard equipment are Xenon adaptive headlights, 14-way adjustable heated front seats with four-way lumbar support, panoramic moonroof, power rear liftgate, and the navigation system.
Extras like a cold weather package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and retractable headlight washers), a Premium package (BMW’s “comfort” keyless entry, four-zone climate control, and a year’s subscription to satellite radio), and other items (including the rear-view camera which added $400) ran the total for my test vehicle to $71,695.
What I liked about the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e: The performance was more power than you would expect from a hybrid. It’s also a very quiet ride, though I did hear a complaint about the comfort of the passenger seat.
What I didn’t like about the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e: The infotainment system is a bitch to operate and can be very distracting. And there was no AM band on the radio! Yes, I’m the guy who often listens to AM. I like it for sports and news. Some of it is available on the SXM band, of course, but not all the local talk shows are there.
Would I buy the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e? No. I find the plug-in system too much trouble to bother with for what little you get. Where I live, you reach the 14-mile range pretty quickly. Operation of the infotainment systems also is a deal killer for me. Hey, BMW! Remember benutzerfreundlich! (Darned if there isn’t a word in German for user-friendly.)