BMW X5 45e: Electric Car Fun Without Compromising the Sporty Luxury of BMW

Bmw X5 45E Featured Image

This is the way to start your electric car journey.

We love the BMW X5 for all its promise: A luxuriously appointed, sporty and stylish SUV with all the things we love about BMW: it drives with precision, accommodates every comfort and delivers cutting-edge technology, even if you have to pay a little extra for it.

But many worry that the electric future will curtail the spirit we love in cars like these, or that the transition will be bumpy. The X5 45e plug-in hybrid electric SUV, or PHEV, will allay those fears.

Related: 2022 BMW X3 First Drive: New Design Details Make this Sporty SUV Even Better

The Front Of The Bmw X5 45E Shows Is More Demure Front Grille

The front of the BMW X5 45e shows a more demure front grille. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Car is For

  • Drivers who want to drive on electric power most of the time but still need a gas engine for longer trips
  • Buyers who want luxury and comfort features 
  • SUV drivers who need the added ground clearance and cargo space 
  • Drivers who want the BMW experience
  • Buyers who want a bit more power but are not ready to upgrade to the M series
  • Small families or pet parents

Related: Test Drive Electric Cars, E-Bikes and E-Scooters at Electrify Expo

The Power Port For Charging The Bmw X5 45E Is On The Front Driver'S Side

The power port for charging the BMW X5 45e is on the front driver’s side. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know  

  • This SUV is great for small families. However, those who need seating for 5 or more should consider the BMW X7
  • The electric motor has a range of about 30 miles
  • Charging can be done at a level 1 or 2 charger but not at a DC Fast Charge station
  • The 45e should take about 2.5 hours to charge at a level 2 charger, and about 13 hours at a level 1 charger
  • The price of this car carries a $3,800 premium over the gas model; most drivers should be able to recoup the difference by charging at home when rates are lowest
  • The 45e delivers everything BMW drivers love about the brand’s performance experience except the throaty engine sound. This car is quiet.

Related: Charging an Electric Car is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

The View From The Driver'S Seat.

The view from the driver’s seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

First Off, This SUV is All BMW 

Our test model was outfitted with Ivory White Vernasca leather inside and Arctic Grey Metallic outside, a combination I would have picked. The white interior is refreshing and modern. On its own, it makes your day better. It also has BMW’s Live Cockpit Pro system, an intuitive and customizable multimedia system with Swarovski crystal-clad controls. This one detail sets BMW apart from almost all other luxury cars; the ability to get into your car and hold such a beautifully jeweled sculpture in your hand is exquisite. 

Even better is how this small SUV drives: with no compromise. It’s quick thanks to an added 50 horsepower from the electric motor. The standard gas engine has about 335 HP while the 45e delivers 389 HP. Plus, it’s agile thanks to a tight suspension and small-ish size. This also makes it easy to drive and park. It never feels large or lumbering, yet you can easily fill it with kids and gear. 

This Screen Allows You To Turn On Or Off Individual Safety System Features.

This screen allows you to turn on or off individual safety system features. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Learning to Drive Electric

This is the joy of this car: Plug it in daily and experience the delight of driving on all electric. The 45e has an electric range of about 30 miles, though some reviewers have been able to get a few more miles than that from the battery-electric system.

Probably the biggest advantage is learning to drive without using gas. With daily charges, you can run errands, commute to work and do the school pickup run on electric. If you’re driving in electric and the battery charge runs out, the gas engine kicks in. While the hybrid system is at work, it’s not the super-efficient hybrid many of us think of: it has a fuel economy estimate of about 20 MPG, which is about that of the conventional gas engine. 

BMW offers eDrive buyers an app that enhances the experience. You can check your charge level, set your charging hours, find a charge station and more. 

The Swarovski Crystal Controls Are A Sublime Detail

The Swarovski crystal controls are a sublime detail. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Is the 45e Worth the Premium?

In a word, absolutely if you use the electric motor. The price difference between the gas model and the 45e is about $3,800. This alone may be worthwhile for simply getting into the habit of learning to drive for max efficiency and daily plugging in.

With regular charging, you can essentially avoid buying gas, except for those times when you drive more than 30 miles. It could take weeks or months to burn through an entire tank of gas. The only time you’ll fill up frequently is when driving long distances. 

Drivers who are all-electric most of the time should recoup the added expense in less than three years when charging daily at home. If it costs $60 to fill your tank, and the average driver can cut out 40 tanks of gas a year, that’s $2,400 less per year you’re paying for gas. Considering the 45e should cost about $1 a day to charge at a home charger, the savings add up quickly. 

The Center Console With Apple Carplay Activated

The center console with Apple CarPlay activated. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How Long Does the 45e Take to Charge?  

Using a standard household plug, it’ll take overnight. But at a level 2 outlet, which is the same size as a household dryer outlet, it’ll charge in about 5 hours.

You have some choices here. You can buy a smart charger that will connect to your car, house and phone. This will allow you to optimize your charge time, so you can charge when rates are lowest. You can set a reminder to charge, and when you’re ready to go full electric, you’ll have an outlet ready to go.

Or, you can charge at public level 2 charge stations (which are more expensive than home charging), but not at a level 3 DC Fast Charger. BMW’s system cannot accommodate the high voltage of that system. Luckily, public chargers are becoming more and more common. Many offices, shopping centers and public buildings have them. Some are even free. This can be a nice way to recharge while you shop. 

You Can Push This Button To See All The Driver Assist And Safety Systems Illustrated

You can push this button to see all the driver assist and safety systems illustrated. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Most Sophisticated BMW Multimedia System … Ever?

BMW has long delighted us with things like gesture control, which in theory allows you to magically silence the music by flicking your fingers at the screen or turning the music up with a swirl of your hand (I say in theory, because my experience with this is mixed). But the Live Cockpit Pro system goes beyond the gimmicks with some really nice and valuable functionality. The system has upgraded graphics and includes standards like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, media and radio, and a voice-activated assistant. Just say “Hey, BMW” and your assistant comes to life to help you.

Also, BMW has enhanced systems designed to allow you to learn to use, or turn off, the driver assist systems. There are animated and annotated screens that show and explain each function. You can also monitor your driving efficiency, battery charge level and time needed to recharge. Plus, you can customize the screen. Just pull down on the small three-line icon at the top of the screen and you can move things around, create new pages and more.

Below the screen are hard-wired buttons for climate control and importantly, a driver assist system button, noted by a car icon with circles around it. Tap this button to go quickly to the driver assist systems to change your settings or to see if the one you’re counting on is active. I really loved this feature. 

Paired with the multi-function driver information screen, steering wheel buttons and head-up display, you truly have all of BMW’s technology at your fingertips and in your line of sight, right where it should be. 

The Rear Seats Are Comfortable But Not Overly Roomy

The rear seats are comfortable but not overly roomy. Photo: Scotty Reiss

All the BMW Goodies 

And this is where BMW really scores: the X5 is outfitted with all the luxuries and comforts you expect, many of them standard. These include: 

  • Driver assist and safety systems including blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control 
  • 6-cylinder twin turbo engine
  • Multiple drive modes
  • Ivory White Vernasca leather 
  • Live Cockpit Pro
  • Panoramic sunroof 
  • xDrive all-wheel drive 
  • Keyless entry 
  • Roof rails
  • Ambient lighting
  • Premium sound

Our test model came with the addition of the M Sport package. This adds things like M Sport scuff plates and badging, as well as an M Sport steering wheel. It also had the Executive package, which adds those beautiful Swarovski crystal details on the gear selector, iDrive dial and start/stop button. The Executive package also has a head-up display, rear window shades, wireless charging and an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system.

The Cargo Area Is Ample, And The Clamshell Liftgate Keeps Things From Falling Out When You Open It

The cargo area is ample, and the clamshell liftgate keeps things from falling out when you open it. Photo: Scotty Reiss

No Compromise in Passenger Comforts and Space. Plus: A Clamshell Lift Gate! 

Keep in mind that this is a compact SUV and is sized that way (though not BMW’s smallest, by far; the X3, X2 and X1 are all smaller). However, the rear seat is comfortable and offers some nice amenities to enhance the experience. Legroom is just fine, but not overly large. Headroom is fine too, thanks to the square shape of this SUV. I love the hip point, or the height of the seats from the ground, which makes getting in and out easier, especially with little ones.

Rear seat passengers have the luxury of tablet holders, so tablets can be installed on the backs of the front seats. There are two USB ports embedded in each seat back, and buyers have the option of rear window shades. 

One detail I really love is the liftgate. It’s a clamshell gate, with the lower portion folding down and out, and the upper portion opening up and out. This makes for a very handy work space to set things while you move others around in the cargo area. Plus, it keeps things from rolling out when you open the liftgate (hello, spilled bag of groceries and smashed bottle of spaghetti sauce on my driveway). For many families, the clamshell liftgate offers the perfect parade/soccer/lacrosse seat and diaper changing station. It’s brilliant. Many of us are so happy that it’s still a BMW staple. 

Head Up Display In The Bmw X5 45E

Head-up display in the BMW X5 45e. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs

  • BMW X5 xDrive base model, which includes all the above-mentioned standard features: $61,600
  • BMW X5 45e: $65,400
  • M Sport package: $5,500
  • Executive Package: $4,050
  • Driver assistance package: $1,700
  • Blue brake calipers: $650
  • Destination charge: $995
  • Price of our test model: $81,695

The BMW X5 45e’s Greatest Luxury? Skipping the Gas Station 

There’s a theory that buyers who can afford a car like this are not sensitive to the price of gas. And while that may be true, pretty much everyone is sensitive to the inconvenience of getting gas: does anybody love it? So yes, this is a pricey car. It’s filled with luxuries, among them the luxury of being able to skip trips to the gas station. With regular charging, you can drive for weeks or even months without refueling.

And if you are one of those drivers who enjoys saving money in one place so you can spend it somewhere else, you can upgrade your hotel stay on those longer trips that require a fill-up. 

Disclosure: BMW provided this X5 for this review; all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss