Used 2016 BMW X5 eDrive Review

The 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e is a solid choice for a plug-in hybrid luxury crossover SUV, though its fuel economy isn't as high as you might think.




what's new

The 2016 BMW X xDrive40e is a new model that adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the current X5 platform.

vehicle overview

BMW has decided to embrace the plug. The new 2016 X5 xDrive40e enters the fledgling segment of plug-in hybrid luxury crossover SUVs, and like other X5 models, it looks to be a contender. Combining a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, the xDrive40e provides a maximum of 308 horsepower along with 14 miles of electric-only range. That's not a lot of miles, but it's enough for running local errands, and therein lies this BMW's true appeal. It gives you the same general versatility as a regular X5, plus emissions-free operation around town.

Another strength of the xDrive40e is its standard all-wheel-drive system, which works even in full EV mode. And although the complex hybrid hardware makes this model substantially heavier than other X5s, it can still get out of its own way, accelerating to 60 mph almost as quickly as a regular X5 xDrive35i. In terms of fuel economy, however, the xDrive40e isn't as stellar as its green credentials might suggest, topping out at 25 mpg highway in normal gas-powered operation. Of course, the more you stay in EV mode, the less gas you're going to use, but the point is that if you drive the xDrive40e for longer distances, it's not going to blow you away with its fuel efficiency.

With that in mind, we suggest considering the rest of the X5 lineup, too, including the xDrive35d, a diesel-powered variant that returns about 30 mpg on the highway and costs less up front. If your heart's set on a plug-in hybrid, the only real alternative for now is Porsche's more expensive but also better-performing Cayenne S e-Hybrid. If you can do without the full-electric functionality, there are some conventional hybrid luxury crossovers to think about, such as the Lexus RX 450h and the smaller Audi Q5 Hybrid. But within the specialized world of plug-in hybrids, at least, the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e certainly holds its own.

trim levels & features

A midsize five-seat crossover SUV, the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e comes in a single, all-wheel-drive trim level. (The conventionally powered X5 lineup and the high-performance X5 M are reviewed separately.)

Standard equipment on the plug-in hybrid X5 includes a rear air suspension, adjustable suspension dampers, 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding, auto-dimming heated mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, remote keyless entry, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, hybrid-specific instrumentation, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, heated 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar) and driver memory settings. Electronics features include BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 10.2-inch central display screen, the iDrive infotainment system with additional hybrid-specific iDrive menu items, a navigation system, voice controls and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input and HD radio.

Many option packages are available to help drivers customize their X5 plug-in hybrids. Three equipment "lines" — Luxury, xLine and M Sport — provide different wheel designs, color schemes and trim and upholstery selections. The M Sport line also includes sport front seats and shift paddles for the transmission. The Premium package adds keyless entry and ignition, four-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and leather upholstery, while the Luxury Seating package gets you ventilated front seats. The Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers.

The Driver Assistance package features a rearview camera and a head-up display. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds adaptive cruise control with full stop-and-go capability, a surround-view camera and a long list of driver safety aids highlighted in the Safety section of this review. The Lighting package bundles upgraded adaptive full LED headlights and automatic high beams.

Stand-alone options for the 2016 BMW X5 include some of the above packaged items plus a self-parking system, power-closing doors, multicontour front seats, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, smartphone-app integration and rear window manual sunshades. You can also order a Harman Kardon audio system or a deluxe Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system with pedestrian detection.

performance & mpg

The BMW X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid starts with BMW's familiar turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and pairs it with a specialized eight-speed automatic transmission (with an electric motor built in) and a battery pack housed under the cargo floor. Total system power is 308 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque. BMW claims the xDrive40e will hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, or about a half-second behind the regular X5 xDrive35i. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph:  75 mph in all-electric mode.

A special eDrive button determines the X5 xDrive40e's powertrain functionality. The "Max" setting locks the xDrive40e into all-electric mode until the battery is depleted, whereas the default "Auto" mode lets the gas engine and electric drive systems work in tandem. In Auto, the big hybrid typically runs in all-electric mode until about 45 mph (or the driver mashes the accelerator for rapid acceleration), at which point the gas engine comes to life. There's also a "Save Battery" setting that conserves the battery's energy for later "Max" use, preventing it from being depleted in the meantime.

The X5 xDrive40e has an EPA efficiency rating of 56 MPGe in combined driving. Once the gasoline engine kicks in, however, fuel economy is 24 mpg combined (23 city/25 highway). The X5 40e's all-electric driving range is EPA-rated at 14 miles. The 3.6kW onboard charger should refill the battery from a 240-volt, Level 2 charging station in just under three hours. A factory-supplied 120-volt charging cord for occasional or emergency use plugs into any standard wall socket but will take about seven hours to replenish a depleted battery pack.

safety

As with every other 2016 BMW X5, the xDrive40e's standard safety equipment includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Also standard are the BMW Assist and Remote Services emergency communications systems, which provide automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote lock/unlock and on-demand roadside assistance.

An optional Driver Assistance package adds a rearview camera and a head-up display, while the Driver Assistance Plus package adds blind-spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, lane-departure warning and prevention, speed limit info and a frontal collision warning and mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the non-hybrid X5 has earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests. The performance of the optional collision mitigation system earned the top "Superior" rating.

driving

The 2016 BMW X5 is one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers around. We haven't gotten our hands on the xDrive40e version for testing yet, but we don't expect it to change our favorable impression of the current X5 platform. It doesn't matter whether you're driving on back roads or on an endless expanse of interstate; the X5 is a champ, feeling secure and stable, yet also relatively fun to drive. Wind and tire noise are pleasantly muted, and the ride is firm yet forgiving. We'll be interested to compare the xDrive40e's real-world acceleration to that of the diesel-powered xDrive35d, which takes slightly longer to hit 60 mph but has superior torque and fuel economy.

interior

As with most BMWs, the X5's interior layout is elegant, with solid construction and high-quality materials. Models with the upgraded and extended leather options are particularly impressive. From the driver seat, you're presented with classic BMW gauges (reconfigured for the plug-in hybrid drive system) and a large central display screen with crisp graphics. The standard front seats are ideally shaped and adjust for a wide range of body types, while the available multicontour seats are some of the most comfortable and adjustable seats found in any car.

The iDrive interface works well for controlling and adjusting the X5's various systems, and it even includes a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten navigation inputs. Still, iDrive typically takes a few more clicks and twists of the control knob to get what you want compared with some rival systems. It's technologically impressive, but not always as user-friendly as we'd like.

The second-row seats are comfortable, but legroom is merely adequate. While BMW stowed the xDrive40e's battery pack beneath the cargo area, it doesn't intrude much, cutting less than 2 cubic feet from overall cargo capacity. With the rear seatbacks upright, the plug-in X5's cargo space measures a satisfactory 34.2 cubic feet, while folding those seatbacks opens up 72.5 cubic feet. One distinctive attribute of the X5 is its split two-section liftgate. The lower, smaller section pulls down flat, making it easy to sit on for tailgating.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.