2021 BMW X5 45e Review

The Plug In Hybrid X5

The X5 has been a big hit worldwide since its inception and now the plug in hybrid BMW X5 45e is adding another aspect to the lineup.


To the untrained eye, there isn’t much to obviously set the X5 45e apart from the rest of the X5 lineup. 

Up front the kidney grille is just as large and in your face as on other X5’s. The lower bumper opening is also oversized with additional large vents on the outside edges. Everything about the front end is big.

Newer to the US market are the laser headlights that have been available in the EU for many years now. These lights are very bright with excellent cutoff. They provide the driver with a great field of view while not blinding other driver’s on the road.

Moving down the driver’s side we see the plug in port to charge the battery. This is about the only clear feature on the exterior that shows it’s hybrid capabilities. There are no additional blue accents or hybrid badges anywhere on the vehicle.

The rear has very large taillights that span about one quarter of the way across the liftgate. Down low in the bumper are chrome trimmed rectangular exhaust ports and our tester was even equipped with a receiver for towing.

Overall the exterior is understated yet luxurious.

Inside the X5 45e

As expected from all BMW’s the X5 45e is very nicely appointed inside. Nearly all the touch points are covered in soft leather.

Heated seats are commonplace in just about every vehicle anymore, however we’ve only tested a few vehicles with heated armrests. While it seems like excess, heated armrests are one of those things that you don’t realize you need until you’ve tried them once.

The whole layout of the dash and steering wheel is driver centric. Everything is within easy reach of the driver and easy to use. WIth a plethora of buttons, dials, and switches on the steering wheel, nearly every feature can be controlled without the driver having to take their hands off the wheel.

A 12.3” touchscreen pairs nicely with the 12.3” digital instrubment cluster. The infotainment system includes BMW’s gesture control which is great once all the of gestures are learned, but that takes time and it’s easier to just use the physical controls.

Seat comfort is good both front and rear. The front seats include a variety of powered adjustments to provide for great comfort, good body control, or both. Part of the Executive package includes two climate zones for the rear seats and heated outboard rear seats.

For charging devices, there is a wireless charging pad and a single USB-A port up front and a single 12-volt outlet for the rear seat.

Cargo volume is adequate. One of the best features is that the cargo opening has a hatch and a tailgate. With many competitors only having a hatch and not way to pile items up against it without them falling out, having a tail gate is a major plus. It is also a powered tailgate that automatically closes when the button to close the liftgate is pushed.


BMW used to advertise as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” While their slogan has changed, it is clear that there is still a major focus on driving dynamics for all vehicles in the BMW lineup.

With 4-corner air suspension and adaptive damping, the X5 45e is able to adjust the ride based on the environment it is in. While it can’t float around like a 90’s luxury sedan, it does have a broad range of damping to adapt to various situations.

Around town the ride can be a little stiff, even in comfort mode. However, this translates to excellent cornering with hardly any body lean. Bumps are isolated very well and the crossover feels well planted in nearly every situation.

Driving curvy mountain roads is confidence inspiring. Cornering Brake Control, BMW’s system that will brake the inside wheel to improve cornering ability, isn’t noticeable except for the fact that the vehicle sticks to the road in the corners much better than expected. 

On the open road the power is great for merging into high speed traffic or for passing slower moving vehicles. Road noise is minimal and the additional driving aids, like the built in speed limiter that can be used to keep the driver from accidentally going faster than they want, make for a great driving experience.

One factor that we found detracting from the driving experience is all of the doodads and gizmos in the luxury cabin. For the best driving experience forget about all the tricks the infotainment system can do and just drive. We hardly touched the surface of what can be done to customize the X5 in the infotainment screen and it was still a little bit overwhelming.


Traveling off-pavement in the X5 45e is a little bit precarious. The air suspension can be raised to provide for good clearance, approach, breakover, and departure angles. However, the large wheels and tires with small sidewalls and limited wheel protection mean that a puncture or blowout can be easily had. Rather than talk about it all here, take a look at the video below for our off-road review.


With a base price of $65,400 the BMW X5 45e comes in about right where it should be in the luxury market. However, our tester was equipped with the $5,500 M Sport Package and $4,050 Executive Package along with a few other items. Adding in the $995 destination charge the total as tested price comes to $81,695. While this isn’t over the top, especially considering all of the features included, it is a big jump from the starting price. Take a look at the Mercedes GLE, Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne for competitors in this market.

Wrapping Up the X5 45e

While performance might be less than the X5 M or AMG versions of Mercede’s GLE, the X5 45e is an excellent all around vehicle. It’s easy and comfortable to drive nearly everywhere. It has decent acceleration, great braking, and excellent handling. Pricing is about what is expected for this class of vehicle. Those wanting to minimize their use of fossil fuels, the plug-in hybrid has enough range for many people.

Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.

Matt lives in the Utah mountains and often posts cool off-roading videos to his Instagram and YouTube channel.

2021 bmw2021 BMW X52021 BMW X5 45e2021 BMW X5 45e ReviewBMWBMW X5 45e Review