BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress | CAR Magazine

BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress

Published: 16 February 2024 Updated: 21 February 2024
BMW X5 50e front driving
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.

► Updated BMW X5 driven in the UK
► xDrive50e PHEV claims 66 e-miles
► UK range includes two diesels, too

BMW don’t do updates, upgrades or facelifts. No, this is the life cycle impulse of its big-selling X5 SUV, with the fashion-first X6 also getting a tickle. It’s not just the usual redesigned front and rear bumpers, lights and the latest BMW infotainment, either, there are some new assistance systems and major upgrades for arguably the best hybrid SUV on sale.

At a glance

Pros: 50e’s long EV range, rapid acceleration, entertaining handling, suprisingly good economy
Cons: Too many physical controls culled, gets pricey quickly with a few options

BMW X5 50e infotainment

What’s new?

The curved dash, by a now a familiar BMW quantity, has finally made its way into the X5 and X6. The conveniently large high-res panorama display’s main sceen can be accessed by touch, the iDrive controller’s last appearance in this model, as well as by voice and gesture control and the multi-functional steering-wheel.

The centre console is wider than need be and thinly padded, the ventilation louvres and the mystic air distribution devices are an acquired taste, replacing physical switchgear for the heater and stereo. The new assistance systems add a few more irritating beeps and bongs, and it’s harder to silence them with the new infotainment.

Professional planet savers will be pleased to see Sensafin upholstery is standard instead of real leather. It’s claimed to last forever although hide is still available. The excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system certainly takes full advantage of the improved sound deadening, and the options list is extensive enough to add the price of a well-equipped Dacia. There’s a reason the BMW X5 makes it onto our list of the best luxury hybrids.

BMW X5 50e dash

By the way: going down PHEV avenue shrinks the boot size from 650-1870 to 500-1720litres and reduces the towing capacity from 3.5 to 2.7tons.

What are the specs?

The new xDrive50e plug-in hybrid supersedes the pre-facelift’s 45e and claims up to 66 emission-free miles. Total output is now 489bhp and 700Nm, although the crucial number is that it generates 194bhp when running on electricity alone. Thanks to a clever step-up ratio, the e-motor integrated in the eight-speed automatic transmission can also generate up to 332lb ft of torque.

The energy produced by the battery is up 25 per cent to 25.7kWh (net) and the maximum charging power doubled to 7.4kW, but the output of the partnering 3.0-litre straight-six nudged up only by a token circa 20bhp to 309bhp on its own.

BMW X5 50e profile driving

In the UK market, X5 buyers can choose from the above PHEV or one of two diesels – the base 30d and the more potent 40d. Both are mild hybrid only and feature modest power boosts.

So, how does the updated X5 drive?

We’re focusing on the 50e PHEV here and, besides the lofty e-range figures and daft official fuel economy number, it’s a potent performer. The top speed in e-mode is limited to a swiftish 87mph, and it gets there with far greater urgency than other plug-in hybrid SUVs we’ve encountered. It feels surprisingly brisk off the line and gets up to motorway speeds far faster.

It’s got endurance, too. Even on a near-freezing winter’s day on a mixture of roads including a stint on the A1, it travelled nearly 49 miles before the petrol engine quietly fired into life. It’s not like it’ll guzzle fuel when you’re out of electricity, either. A 100 mile plus motorway run with no charge netted an economy figure of 34.8mpg. Perfectly palatable for something so big and fast.

BMW X5 50e rear driving

And fast it is. Officially it’ll hit 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, and that figure is entirely believable. Traction is plentiful and the power systems combine smoothly, firing the X5 forwards from a standstill. This is automotive fusion cuisine at its finest – with two exceptions. Neither coasting nor the one-pedal feel are the system’s prime strength, and kickdown on the fly feels more like a petition than an order.

Strengths? The optional four-wheel steering makes the 4935mm cruiser almost as manoeuvrable as a Mini Countryman. The ride is sufficiently supple even on extra-cost 22-inchers, at least with the box for air suspension ticked. The brakes are strong, progressive and resistant to fade, while an individual drive mode allows you to pick and choose you settings for the engine, gearbox and suspension.

The steering is not Cayenne-like sharp and the suspension is not Range Rover-like compliant, but the X5 50e easily outhandles the new Range Rover while outperforming the Q8 plug-in hybrid. The X5’s 24/7 sedative is its massive kerb weight of 2420kilos which puts the PHEV on eye-level with the iX. It shows, less so on the straights but under braking, when dialing in an armful of lock and on roads dotted with varying radii and recurrent changes of direction.

BMW X5 50e static front

Once you’ve got the weight settled – a job it does quicker than many rivals – you can actually have some fun. It resists roll well for something this size and weight and feels well balanced. The four-wheel drive system is always on call and ESC settings devilishly hard to find, yet with the right menu found, it’ll even slide pleasingly under power.

BMW X5: verdict

As always, the X5 is one of the sharper to drive SUVs out there, and now comes with a hybrid system that puts it head and shoulders above its immediate rivals. However, not all the changes are good, with the reduced button count making the interior less user friendly and an even heftier price tag that’ll nudge £100k with options.

Specs are for a BMW X5 xDrive50e M Sport


Price when new: £79,265
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 25.7kWh battery plus 2998cc straight-six, single e-motor, 482bhp, 516lb ft
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 4.8sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 18-26g/km, 66-mile range, 213.8-294.0mpg
Weight / material: 2420kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4935/2004/1755


Photo Gallery

  • BMW X5 50e front driving
  • BMW X5 50e rear driving
  • BMW X5 50e profile driving
  • BMW X5 50e profile driving
  • BMW X5 50e static front
  • BMW X5 50e dash
  • BMW X5 50e interior front
  • BMW X5 50e split rear seats
  • BMW X5 50e split tailgate
  • BMW X5 50e infotainment
  • BMW X5 50e rear light
  • BMW X5 50e charging port
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress
  • BMW X5 (2024) review: plug-in progress

By Alan Taylor-Jones

New cars editor, seasoned road tester and automotive encyclopaedia.