2021 BMW X5 45e

By Eric Peters

May 4, 2021 6 min read

The main problem with electric cars isn't the range so much as the wait.

A gas-hog car that drains its tank dry in 200 miles or less can be back on the road in five minutes or less — which makes its short range not much of a problem. But if you have to wait at least 30-45 minutes for your electric car to get going again after going 200 miles or less, then you've got a problem.

BMW addresses this problem by eliminating the need to wait — unless you want to recharge.

In the new X5 45e.

What It Is

The X5 is BMW's midsize crossover. It seats five to seven in two rows or three rows.

It is based on BMW's rear-wheel-drive luxury-sport sedan platform, raised up for crossover duty.

It stickers for $59,400 to start for the base rear-wheel-drive sDrive40i; the new xDrive45e, which comes with a partially electric drivetrain and standard all-wheel drive — plus an additional 54 horsepower — stickers for $65,400.

What's New

The xDrive45e is added to the lineup, while the previously available V-8-powered xDrive50i has been dropped from the lineup.

What's Good

It's a no-wait electric car.

You get more horsepower from the standard six.

There are unique features such as the two-piece, folding and raising liftgate/tailgate.

What's Not So Good

There's no third-row option for the xDrive45e (the hybrid drive takes up the space).

It's pricier than rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

You might forget it's on — if the EV drive is on — and leave it that way, after you park it to go shopping.

Under the Hood

The X5's standard 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six makes 335 horsepower — unless you opt for the 45e, which adds an electric motor and a battery pack that can be plugged in for a charge.

Or charged as you drive.

If you opt for this layout, you'll get another 54 horsepower, for 389 total — plus a swell of 443 foot-pounds of torque, sufficient to propel this crossover to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds while also being capable of going about 31 miles without burning any gasoline at all.

There's no wait to recharge, unless you have the time, because this BMW can revert to burning gas when the charge runs low. And because it can operate on either electricity or gas, it has a range of more than 500 miles on the highway — much farther than any electric-only car.

It's a neat solution to a big problem — and a relatively cost-free one, too.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, as well as 8.3 inches of ground clearance and a very stout 7,200 pounds of standard towing capacity.

On the Road

M&Ms — the candy — were developed to solve the problem of chocolate rations melting in the hands of soldiers. This BMW's electric-when-you-want-it, not-having-to-wait-for-electricity when you don't want to amounts to the same idea.

It can also go seriously off-road, and not just because it has 8.3 inches of clearance and a very stout all-wheel-drive system. It won't leave you waiting for someone to haul in a battery charger — or haul you out — if the electric range runs dry.

There is only one downside to this rig.

If you aren't paying attention, you might just leave it on when you leave it parked. Everything is electronic, including the pushbuttons for "park" and turning the engine off. But if it is already off, because electric mode is on, you might forget to push the button or think you did.

So, double check.

At the Curb

The X5 has always looked more rugged — more like an SUV — than the typical crossover and this remains part of its appeal today.

Also appealing is the X5's unique tailgate/liftgate combo.

The upper liftgate opens up like the typical crossover's liftgate; but there is also a lower tailgate that folds down and out, providing both access and a ledge that can be used as a place to sit, if you like — as for tailgate parties.

It also gives you more room to open the upper section to access the cargo area in a tight spot.

Less appealing — if you need the extra seats — is that the 45e doesn't offer the third row that is available in other X5 trims. The reason for that is space is taken up (under the floor) by the electric motor/battery pack.

The Rest

Like many high-end cars, the X5 has some high-tech razzle-dazzle, including what BMW styles "gesture control" — which means you can use gestures (such as a twirling your finger to the right) to increase the volume of the stereo and decrease it by twirling in the opposite direction.

This is amusing to dazzle your friends and family with, but the knob BMW provides to turn the radio volume up or down works faster.

The Bottom Line

It is sad to see the V-8-powered M50i go away. But the xDrive45e almost replicates its performance, with much greater range.

Without the wait.

 View the BMW X5 this week.
View the BMW X5 this week.

Eric's latest book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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