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First Drive: 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e Hybrid

Ultimate Plug-In Machine? - BMW Charges Up the X5 with xDrive40e

Tim Esterdahl
Oct 5, 2016
Photographers: BMW
Following the success of the BMW i8, the ’16 BMW X5 xDrive40e is a marriage between the versatility and luxury of the well-known SUV and the all-electric mobility of the eDrive technology. Using lessons learned in the BMW i program, the X5 features the latest and greatest BMW electric technology to give its largest SUV a large dose of performance and efficiency.
Photo 2/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Front Driving View
The ’16 BMW X5 xDrive40e joins gas- and diesel-powered variants of the luxury SUV to promise even better fuel economy with the possibility of driving purely on electricity. This is possible through combining a 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with an eDrive electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Working together, the gas engine and electric motor produce 308 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the SUV from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds.
The powertrain is EPA-rated to return a combined mileage of 56 MPGe on electric power and 24 combined mpg when the internal combustion engine is in use. The base X5 xDrive35i with a turbocharged gasoline I-6 is rated at 21 combined mpg, while the xDrive35d with a 3.0L I-6 diesel is rated at 27 combined mpg. BMW says the electric motor can power the SUV for up to 14 miles on pure electric power and is “ideal for short commutes and quick trips around town,” a statement that makes sense when looking at the fuel economy figures. Those who drive longer distances may be better served by the diesel, but for those who drive less than 20 miles a day on average, they could be doing it without using more than a few drops of gasoline.
Photo 3/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Front Driving
Photo 4/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Rear
“BMW eDrive technology provides exceptionally efficient performance as well as the potential for all-electric mobility with zero tailpipe emissions, ushering in a whole new form of driving experience in a Sports Activity Vehicle,” said Hector Arellano-Belloc, BMW’s product and technology spokesman. “At the same time, the BMW X5 xDrive40e reaps the benefits of the technology and know-how transferred from the debut of the BMW i cars.”
Behind the wheel, the marriage between the powertrains is seamless, with the SUV quickly getting up to speed and returning the typical excellent driving experience found in many BMW products. With the additional Sport and Manual shift modes, it is quite easy to forget you are driving a hybrid produc, since it simply drives and feels like a gasoline-powered BMW X5.
Photo 5/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Chargenow
Photo 6/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Plug In
Engaging the fully electric mode creates a unique driving experience since it almost turns into a game of keeping it in electric mode. This balancing act is due to how the hybrid charges through regenerative braking. When hitting the brakes, kinetic energy is collected and used to charge the battery. This allows the X5 to charge itself and is quite useful in stop-and-go traffic or city driving. As it charges, the battery charging mode found under the tachometer fluctuates rapidly between charge and ready modes, indicating which mode you are in. Keeping the X5 in all-electric mode takes some getting used to since hard acceleration off the line causes the gasoline engine to engage, as well as promptly draining the battery. Plus, driving an uninterrupted distance (no stops or braking) also drains the battery quite quickly.
Engaging the eDrive ability is done through a center console–mounted button, and it is automatically turned on when the X5 starts up. The electric mode is engaged for all driving below 45 mph unless the battery is depleted or the driver accelerates quickly. There is also a MAX eDrive setting engaged with the same button, which forces the vehicle to only be powered by the electric motor. This setting works for up to 14 miles and below speeds of 75 mph. Going beyond this range or speed causes the engine to engage and take over.
Photo 7/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Engine Front View
Photo 8/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Engine
Photo 9/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Emblem
There is also a third setting, called SAVE Battery mode, which turns off the eDrive system and conserves the battery. This is ideal for long-distance trips.
Another way to charge the hybrid is through plugging it in. There is an “occasional use” charging cord, according to BMW’s owner’s manual, housed in the rear hatch area that allows the X5 to be plugged into a wall outlet with the plug-in located at driver-side front fender. BMW says it takes an estimated three hours to fully charge the battery. We plugged it in overnight, and it was fully charged by morning.
Photo 10/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Interior
Photo 11/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Door Sill
While the BMW X5 xDrive40e offers consumers an alternative when shopping for an X5, in real-world driving, the electric-drive aspect of the vehicle is somewhat challenging to utilize to its fullest potential. During our week of driving, we were constantly engaged in trying to keep the battery fully charged to use the fully electric mode. Once the electric mode was engaged, it seemed to drain quicker than we anticipated, and we were constantly managing this part of the vehicle. This isn’t to say the system doesn’t work. In fact, the gasoline engine and electric motor work in perfect harmony together. It is simply going to necessitate an owner actively paying attention to the battery’s charge and the range of miles they plan on driving in order to return the 54 MPGe estimated fuel economy.
Photo 12/15   |   2016 Bmw X5 Edrive Efficient Driving
Vehicle: 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e
Vehicle type: Midsize luxury SUV
Base price: $62,100
Price as tested: $76,720
Engine: 2.0L TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder with eDrive electric motor
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
Horsepower: 308 combined gas/electric
Torque: 332 lb-ft combined gas/electric
Curb weight: 5,220 lbs
Towing capacity: 5,952 lbs
EPA mileage rating: 23/25/24 city/hwy/comb - 56 MPGe comb

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