Review: 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

– Detroit, Michigan

If, back in 1999 when the BMW X5 was introduced, I told you that eventually the company would make a hybrid version with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, you’d have called me mad. (In my imagination, Motor1 readers are mostly urbane Englishmen who say things like “mad” instead of “crazy” or “stupid.”) If I’d gone on to explain that the so-called X5 xDrive40e was actually pretty fun to drive, you would continue to think that I was barmy. But it’s all true, I swear.

Pros

  • The 40e powertrain is of the plug-in hybrid variety: It pairs that 2.0T engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. BMW specs a total system output of 308 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, with an all-electric range of up to 14 miles and a combined fuel economy estimate of 56 MPGe. But forget about the hybrid-y stuff for a moment and hear me when I say that the advanced powertrain actually makes this X5 really enjoyable to drive. The boost from the electric motor is sufficient to give the SUV a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, but I had to look that up – my guess would have been quite a bit quicker, based on the feeling of power when accelerating from a standstill.
  • Part of the reason, no doubt, the X5 feels so quick are its wide contact patches with the ground. No low-rolling-resistance tires here, but fat 255-section rubber that aids in getting all that electric torque to the ground, as well as with grip through the twisting parts of the road.
  • Despite a fai...