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2016 BMW X5 Overview

You might think it’s a lot for a midsize crossover to offer superb handling, a luxurious cabin, sure-footed all-wheel drive, a handsome exterior, and gas, diesel, and hybrid engine choices. But that’s exactly what you get with the 2016 BMW X5. The X5 was BMW’s first utility vehicle and it's now the company’s first plug-in ute, as well as the first plug-in hybrid production model from the core BMW brand, thanks to the all-new X5 xDrive40e. But this isn’t the Bavarian automaker's first foray into plug-in technology--there are also the 330e and 740e plug-in sedans, the i8 plug-in hybrid coupe, and the i3 electric car.

The hybrid X5 is a late addition to the 2016 lineup and won’t arrive in the U.S. until late fall or early winter, but BMW has already released all the pertinent information. The xDrive40e will use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower on its own) in combination with a 111-horsepower electric motor that’s integrated into the hybrid-specific eight-speed automatic transmission and powered by a 9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. All together, that package sends 308 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.

The xDrive40e can travel up to 13 miles on an electric charge alone. It can go up to 75 mph using just electricity and 130 mph in hybrid mode. The driver can chose between three modes: AUTO eDrive (hybrid), MAX eDrive (electric only), and SAVE Battery (builds up the battery’s energy reserves for later use). BMW estimates that the xDrive40e will get 55 MPGe and that it will take a little less than three hours to fully charge an empty battery pack with a BMW Charging Station.

There are three other trim options for the X5--35i, 35d and 50i--with the 35i available as a rear-wheel drive (sDrive35i) and all-wheel drive (xDrive35i). The 35d and 50i, like the 40e, are only available with AWD. All trims come with an eight-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, with sport and manual shift modes and BMW’s Adaptive Transmission Control.

The 35i models are powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter I6 engine (300 horsepower, 300 lb-ft of torque). The sDrive35i gets 18 mpg city/25 highway/21 combined and the xDrive35i checks in at 18/24/20. The top engine choice for several critics comes with the 35d, a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel I6. The experts love its torque (413 lb-ft, with 255 horsepower) and its efficiency (24/31/27).

The X5’s alpha engine resides in the 50i, a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that cranks out 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, pushing the xDrive50i from 0-60 mph in a non-utility-like 4.9 seconds. But you pay for that extra power at the pump, of course, as the 50i gets only 15/21/17.

The X5 doesn’t just accelerate like a sports sedan, it handles like one as well, thanks to BMW’s trademark attention to detail in the suspension and steering. The lightweight multi-link integral rear suspension and double wishbone front suspension are tuned just right, and that’s also exactly how the electric power steering with Servtronic steering assist feels, no matter what kind of road you’re on. The quick and nimble X5 can also tow up to 6,000 pounds when properly equipped (try doing that in your sports sedan).

The interior is tasteful, practical, and high-quality, exactly what you’d expect from a BMW. The gauges and display are well-placed and easy to decipher, the seats are exceptionally comfortable (especially with the multicontour option), and the iDrive infotainment system has come a long way as far as ease of use is concerned. The one area still lacking in the X5 is literally its lack of area--the second row is just average when it comes to legroom, the optional third row is a squeeze even for kids, and with both rows folded flat the total cargo space is 66 cubic feet, a fairly standard amount of room for a ute and just 2.7 more cubic feet than the smaller X3.

Standard features for the 35i, 35d and 40e include Bluetooth for phone and audio, navigation, a nine-speaker sound system (with a CD player and USB and auxiliary inputs), a 10.2-inch display screen, LED foglights, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated 10-way power front seats. Moving up to the 50i gets you leather upholstery, 16-way power multicontour front seats, four-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and a 16-speaker Harmon Kardon Surround Sound audio system. And there are more than enough packages and options to doctor up the X5 however you see fit.

The list of standard safety features is similarly long, and includes stability control (with brake fade compensation), traction control, dynamic brake control, adaptive brake lights, impact sensor (disconnects the alternator, fuel pump and starter, and unlocks doors and turns on hazards after impact), daytime running lights, rollover sensor (triggers airbags and safety-belt pretensioners), the full array of air bags, and BMW Assist eCall and Remote Services (emergency request, stolen vehicle recovery, and remote door unlock).


After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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