BMW X5 xDrive45e: long-term test review

First report: BMW X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid is a surprise hit

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5


So far, the plug-in X5 has wowed me with its combination of comfort, refinement and efficiency – much more than I was expecting. Anyone looking for a large SUV who has the ability to plug in regularly would be mad not to take a look at it.

  • Mileage: 6,206
  • Economy: 43.5mpg

It’s strange how times have changed. Before Covid, my 44-mile daily round trip to our central London office would have been perfect for the BMW X5 plug-in’s claimed 54-mile electric range, meaning the 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine would rarely be called into action. But when my car actually turned up, the world was a slightly different place and my commute was a thing of the past.

My drives now tend to be much longer, mostly a weekly 150-mile round-trip to see my parents in Kent, so the X5 isn’t quite as efficient as it could be if it were commuting into London. But I’m still averaging more than 43mpg, which includes charging at home when I can on a cheap energy tariff. 

Most people tend to measure efficiency by how often they fill up, and my total fuel bill, including electricity, is well down versus a similar-sized SUV – even a diesel. And if I was a company car user, a Benefit- in-Kind rate of six per cent for this tax year would be a further welcome boost.

However, it’s only when you live with a car that you can really appreciate its talents or get frustrated by its failings, and the X5 falls firmly into the former category. There are numerous things that I love about it and not much that I don’t. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be that way.

Firstly, it’s just so comfortable and I’m not the only one to notice that – my wife is a fan, too. Previous X5s, especially those (like mine) in M Sport trim tended to be a bit firm. My car positively glides over bumps, unless you decide to switch to Sport mode.

When you do firm things up, you get a proper rev counter in the display rather than a power dial, and the car’s rather surprising 5.6-second 0-62mph time comes with a corresponding improvement in handling.

Usually I leave the car to decide the most efficient setting to be in, and when the engine does fire up, I defy anyone to really notice. If you ask for a bit more power, you do hear a fruity exhaust note in the background, but it took a while for me to realise that it was coming from my car.

My 43.5mpg average is some way short of the official 200+mpg, and I’m managing to get around 47 miles of range from the battery. It takes a while to charge, though – the 24kWh pack is the same size as that in an original Nissan Leaf, and the reason for the X5’s decent electric range. I’m going to explore getting my 3.7kW PodPoint home charger upgraded to 7kW – especially since the X5 doesn’t offer a faster charging option.

I’ve no complaints about life with the X5 otherwise – there’s plenty of space for my all-adult family of five to go for reasonably long trips in comfort, the boot is big (in spite of that battery sitting back there) and the build quality is great. I love the large touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging, and the colour head-up display is bright and clear.

One thing I do miss is semi-autonomous driving, which would allow the car to steer, accelerate and brake on the motorway, where I’m spending too much time these days.

 BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport
On fleet since:Jun-20
Price new:£68,245
Engine:3.0-litre 6cyl plus e-motor, 389bhp
Options:Visibility Pack (£650), Technology Pack (£2,095), Comfort Pack (£2,495), M Sport Pro Pack (£1,900)
Insurance*:Group: 49 Quote: £663
Any problems?None so far

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