A new plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X5 is claimed to return as much as 70 mpg combined. The new xDrive40e version of the luxury SUV combines a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. BMW first hinted at the idea of a plug-in hybrid X5 at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show with the BMW concept X5 eDrive.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four rated for 245 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, plus an electric motor rated for 113 hp and 184 lb-ft. In total, the car produces 313 hp and 332 lb-ft combined, giving it a claimed 0-to-62-mph time of 6.8 seconds and a 130-mph top speed. All-wheel drive is standard, even when the car is driven only on electric power.
When the 9.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is fully charged, the BMW X5 xDrive40e can typically travel 15 miles on electricity alone, and BMW says the car returns the equivalent of about 70 mpg. Drivers can choose from several driving modes to configure how the car uses each of its power sources. In Auto eDrive, the electric motor is used exclusively until the car reaches 44 mph. In Max eDrive, the car is locked into electric-only usage (which could be used for driving in cities that restrict gasoline-powered cars) and can drive about 19 miles at speeds up to 75 mph. Finally, a Save Battery mode forces the X5 to drive exclusively on gasoline power to retain the battery charge for later — such as when reaching an urban environment where fossil fuel-powered cars are banned.
Visually, the BMW X5 xDrive40e has only minor changes from a standard version of the SUV. The front driver’s-side fender boasts a flip-open charging port, the instrument cluster displays information on the battery’s charge state, and the car features various blue light elements and “eDrive” badges. Adaptive suspension dampers and self-leveling rear suspension are standard, and the BMW X5 xDrive40e can be equipped with all the option packages of a regular X5.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e goes into production alongside the standard X5 at BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina facility. The car will go on sale in the U.S. this fall, though there’s no word yet on a Canadian on-sale date. BMW officials caution that EPA fuel-economy numbers might be lower than the European estimate of 70 mpg. Look for more plug-in models in the future: BMW said publicly it will offer plug-in hybrid models of all its “core-brand models” in the future, with the 3 Series and X3 likely to receive the advanced powertrains soon.