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The 2024 BMW X5 xDrive50e Is a Plug-In Hybrid Done Right

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Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

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BMW’s midsize SUV isn’t just a solid crossover; it also shows how PHEVs should be made.

Modern BMW wants to grab your attention. New vehicles shout at you with expansive kidney grilles and aggressive, almost confrontational design. The fitting apotheosis of this movement is the BMW XM PHEV, the first bespoke M car in decades. It’s flashy and convention-defying, almost to the point of being vulgar. It sparks conversation … but the conversation invariably begins with “Why?”

Fortunately, the XM is not the only plug-in hybrid SUV in the BMW lineup. For 2024, BMW debuted the X5 xDrive50e, a more powerful replacement for the previous xDrive45e. It’s more of a mouthful to say than the XM, sure — but it also looks more sensible, is less than half as expensive and delivers something buyers actually want.

BMW loaned me an X5 xDrive50e to drive around as a family car for a week in Michigan. And it was a week of almost unerringly pleasant revelations — even if repeating “X5 xDrive 50e” grew progressively more tedious.

The 2024 BMW X5 XDrive50e: What We Think

The XM drew the fanfare (for better and for worse), but BMW may have slipped a very interesting type of ultimate driving machine into the mix with the X5 xDrive50e. It can knock out a 40-mile round trip commute on EV power, accelerate like a Mustang GT and deliver Prius-like fuel economy. It does all this with impressive BMW-like smoothness and driving refinement — and a nice interior, to boot. It’s such a strong package, it earned itself a place on our Best Cars to Buy in 2024 list.

The BMW X5 xDrive50e is also not that bad of a deal‚ at least, if you’re comparing to far pricier plug-in hybrid offerings from Porsche and Range Rover.

The charging panel ahead of the driver’s door is the only visual clue to tell a PHEV X5 from a regular one.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

The X5 xDrive50e is smooth as hell

Most PHEVs look outstanding on paper, but feel disjointed
when you actually drive them — offering, in effect, three different
driving experiences, with none of them hitting the Goldilocks sweet spot. BMW resolved that with the X5 xDrive50e.

The gas engine — one of BMW’s iconic 3.0-liter inline-sixes — is characteristically smooth. It integrates seamlessly with the electric motor, and the immediate pedal feel when you hit the accelerator feels remarkably consistent, whether you’re driving in gas-only, electric-only or hybrid mode.

The X5 xDrive50e drives light, despite being a well-laden brick. It’s
super-quick, as well; Car and Driver timed it as running the 0-60 mph in under four seconds. But it’s not simply quick; ride and handling is well-controlled without being too harsh. You can’t take things to the max with the adaptive suspension you can get on the combustion X5, but this is about as good as it gets for family-friendly, plug-in hybrid crossovers.

The X5 xDrive50e can be super-efficient, but there’s a catch

If you diligently plug in every chance you get, PHEVs can be very efficient. I drove the X5 xDrive50e 136.1 miles over a few days and averaged 54.3 mpg while doing so. That tally included a 20-mile-ish trek with a drained battery and some cold-start, low-mileage school runs.

The rub is, the xDrive50e delivers greater range and power in large part by packing a larger battery pack than the previous-gen X5 PHEV.
That means you can go further on electrons — up to 40 miles in BMW’s estimation (and closer to 47 in my experience). But it also takes a long time to charge fully from empty. I couldn’t do it overnight on a 110-volt plug. If you’re buying an X5 xDrive50e to knock out a 15-20 mile commute on EV power, you’ll need a Level 2 charger.

The X5 xDrive50e interior is nice, but smaller than you’d anticipate

BMW interiors, like many a German car brand, are generally more austere than opulent. But the X5 xDrive50e looks and feels premium and tech-forward with a curved display providing a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen display. Climate controls have moved to the screen, but BMW did keep things you use often — like stereo and drive mode adjustments — as physical buttons.

Speaking as a family man who deals with dogs and kids, the interior did seem tighter than I’d anticipated given the overall size of the X5 xDrive50e. There was enough space to accommodate car seats and sit behind my own driver’s seat, but not especially luxuriously. There’s a decent amount of cargo space, but the high load floor impinges on it.