2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e review: price, specs and release date

New plug-in hybrid BMW X5 xDrive45e trumps virtually all of its rivals with a 54-mile electric-only range - but what's it like?...

BMW X5 xDrive45e front

Price from £63,165 | On sale Now

This is the BMW X5 xDrive45e, and that 'e' on the end of the name should give you some clue as to what's in store.

Although you might have already read about a thirsty new BMW X6 SUV elsewhere on this website, the German brand is, in fact, endeavouring to include more cars in its line-up that don’t drink like a bunch of students on fresher’s week.

Indeed, it has pledged to launch 10 new or revised electrified vehicles by the end of 2020 – one of which is this plug-in hybrid BMW X5 xDrive45e, which succeeds the previous-generation X5 xDrive40e.

Until this year, plug-in hybrid SUVs were in relatively short supply. Now, though, Audi and Volvo both have at least two apiece in their line-ups (with the latter brand’s seven-seat XC90 T8 being our reigning Plug-in Hybrid of the Year), while Mercedes-Benz is rolling out plug-in versions of the GLC and GLE and Land Rover has the Range Rover Sport P400e.

Given that the regular versions of the X5 are already impressively smooth, classy and luxurious, adding electric power to offer even more relaxing low-speed progress and lower fuel bills sounds like a winning combination. So, is it?

X5 xDrive45e

2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e driving

Well, here’s some eye-popping news: the xDrive45e is officially capable of covering up to 54 miles on electric power alone – nearly twice as far as most of its rivals can manage. It's powered by a smooth six-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor that gets its energy from a 24kWh battery. It’s quiet and very quick if you wish to prioritise performance over fuel economy.

Although it doesn’t control body movements quite as well conventional X5 variants, it’s still good to drive, with accurate steering and tidier handling than the XC90. And the air suspension, while being slightly firmer than usual, provides a very comfortable ride, especially on the motorway. It’s more supple than the XC90 around town, too.

The driver has a choice of Sport, Hybrid and Electric driving modes to sort out how the car uses its petrol and electric power, but it’s best to just leave it in Hybrid. Do this and the X5 shuffles between its two power sources very smoothly. When the engine cuts in, it does so without much fuss – exactly what you’d want from your hybrid. And unlike many of the breed, which can have grabby and inconsistent brakes, the xDrive45e’s are barely any different in feel from a standard X5’s.

As for filling it up, the only cable you get as standard enables slow charging at a rate of up to 3.7kW, boosting the battery from 0-80% in around five hours. To go any faster, you have to pay extra for another cable.

X5 xDrive45e

2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e interior

Apart from some EV-specific driver displays, the xDrive45e's interior (just like its exterior) has no obvious differences from other X5s. That means build quality is excellent and BMW's infotainment system beats all rivals for ease of use, especially while you're driving.

In terms of packaging, the battery has been stuffed under the rear seats and the fuel tank relocated beneath the boot floor to make room for it. That means boot space is down by 150 litres compared with other X5 models and you can’t have a spare wheel. The X5 isn’t quite as roomy inside as the equivalent Audi Q7 and, unlike the XC90 (and fuel-powered versions of the X5), you can’t have the hybrid with seven seats. Still, space is hardly stingy.

If you want a bit more detail on what the interior is like, have a look at our main X5 review.

Next: 2020 BMW X5 xDrive45e verdict and specs >>

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