Need three rows of seats? Or are you just fine with two? You can get either configuration on the new 2021 BMW X5. This luxury SUV is part of the midsize segment and gets a lot of competition. However, the X5 does manage to stand out. Even in this class chock full of rivals, the 2021 BMW X5 impresses with its spacious inner design as well as the performances from its different powertrain options.
The interior feels as luxurious as you might expect from BMW. The cabin and cargo area offer plenty of space, although interior storage options are not as expansive as they are in some of the X5's rivals. There are also some small mirrors that, combined with the bulky roof pillars, create some rather large blind spots. On top of all that, the wide doorsills make getting in and out of the vehicle a bit tough.
So, what's new on the X5? Well, the much-anticipated plug-in hybrid xDrive45e iPerformance trim level launches late in the fall of 2020. This makes for an exciting addition, especially since last model year saw the introduction of the M50i and its high-powered V8 engine. This means you get many choices for which powertrain you want.
But which of the 2021 BMW X5 trim levels is the right one for you? Might it be the base sDrive40i or its all-wheel drive variant, the xDrive40i? Might it be the high-powered M50i that was introduced last model year? Or could it be the brand-new PHEV, the xDrive45e? This trim level comparison review will go through all of them. In the end, we will let you know which trim level we think has the most to offer to the average midsize luxury SUV buyer.
Compare the 2021 BMW X5 sDrive40i vs xDrive40i - What is the Difference?
Let's start things off by examining the two lowest trim levels: the sDrive40i and the xDrive40i. The sDrive40i is up first. This rear-wheel drive variant is powered by a 3.0-L twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder engine that is matched up with an 8-speed automatic transmission that has launch control, paddle shifters mounted onto the steering wheel, and Manual and Sport shift modes. The 3.0-L engine has 48v mild hybrid technology and is able to generate 335 hp. An active kidney grille, automatic start/stop, electronic throttle control, brake energy regeneration, and driving dynamics control all come standard on this trim level.
Dynamic Stability Control is a fairly inclusive system that helps keep the X5 stable and secure on the roadway. It includes features like a start-off assistant, compensation for brake fading, features for brake stand-by, brake drying, dynamic brake control, and dynamic traction control. Other standard ride performance related features include dynamic damper control, hill descent control, a front suspension in the double wishbone design, a lightweight rear suspension that is multi-link integral in design, power steering assist, and electric power steering.
This trim level rides atop chic 19-inch V-spoke wheels equipped with run-flat all-season tires. There are satin aluminum roof rails, side mirrors that are heated and power-folding, chrome exhaust tips, non-metallic paint options, a center brake light integrated with the roof spoiler, satin aluminum exterior trim, and aero blades done in a high gloss black tone.
As for the cabin? Well, it sure is loaded with creature comforts. The SensaTec upholstery is breathable, and the SensaTec dashboard matches it nicely. There is wood trim done in a beautiful fineline stripe brown high gloss, and there is also an anthracite headliner. Floor mats, a cargo cover, and a fully finished cargo area with a remote trunk release and velour carpeting also come as part of the deal.
Of course, technology is an important aspect of any new vehicle, especially a luxury vehicle. You should expect to get a lot of bang for your buck here. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, as is BMW Connected Drive Services. You also get additional USB connections, a microphone, and simultaneous device pairing for smartphone app integration. On top of all that, the sDrive40i comes with the Connected Package Professional, which bundles helpful features like on-street parking information for certain cities, real-time traffic data, stolen vehicle recovery, the BMW Connected App, and natural voice recognition that works with the built-in navigation system. BMW TeleServices is also equipped. A 10-speaker HiFi sound system with a 205-watt digital amplifier is standard, as are HD Radio, AM/FM/MP3 compatibility, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Up front, you get a 3-spoke leather-wrapped sport multi-function steering wheel that is power telescoping. There is also the Expanded Check Control system for monitoring the vehicle, an outside temperature display, dynamic cruise control, a tire pressure monitor, a rear window defrost control, and the Live Cockpit Professional suite. This bundles a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch central information display with the iDrive 7.0 system. This can be operated via a touchpad controller, voice command, or on the touchscreen display. You get Cloud-based navigation, 8 bookmarks that you can freely program, 2 USB ports, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming.
When it comes to luxurious comfort features, you had better believe that BMW loads even their base trims with a plethora of them. The sDrive40i comes equipped with the Advanced Vehicle and Key Memory System, which stores info on your last-used settings for things like automatic climate control, the side mirrors, and the power front seats. It even works with lighting preferences and audio. Additionally, you get engine start/stop, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, and 16-way power-adjustable front sport seats that have 4-way power lumbar support built in. They also have 2-way adjustable side bolsters, 2-way manually adjustable headrests, thigh support, and memory for seating and side mirror positions.
Other creature comforts include one-touch power up/down on all of the power windows, a panoramic moonroof that is automatically able to slide and tilt, Comfort Access keyless entry with hands-free opening for the trunk/lid, and a fold-up center armrest in the rear. Up front, you get an armrest with the center console, a USB-C 3-amp charging port, and a storage compartment under the armrest. There are two cup holders up front, two sliding sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, 3-stage heated front seats, privacy glass, extended ambient lighting in the cabin, a lockable glove box, the HomeLink universal transceiver, and the Travel and Comfort System.
On the safety end of things, BMW loads the vehicle up with plenty of standard features. The sDrive40i is equipped with an anti-lock braking system, automatic pretensiors on the front seat belts, LED fog lights, a rear-view camera, and the Active Protection System - a system that watches out for imminent accidents and prepares the vehicle and its occupants by closing the windows and moonroof, automatically adjusting the pretensioners on the safety belts, and kicking post-crash braking into gear. Fatigue and Focus Alert get wrapped into this bundle.
There are also programmable LED daytime running lights up front, adaptive brake lights in the back, an impact sensor, an anti-theft alarm system, a central locking system for the front doors, BMW Assist eCall, front and rear parking distance control, and Active Driving Assistant. The latter-most feature bundles multiple driver aids, including blind spot monitoring, frontal collision warning, speed limit data, and lane departure warning.
The xDrive40i does nto add much to this since it is an all-wheel-drive variant and not an actual, separate trim level. But it does have a few extra things. Of course, having standard AWD is the biggest difference. Otherwise, expect to find that most everything else is the same. You will just have to pay a little more for AWD.
Compare the 2021 BMW X5 xDrive40i vs M50i - What is the Difference?
So, what does the M50i offer that the two lower trims do not? For starters, the engine is much higher powered. This is a 4.4-L twin-turbo 32-valve V8 engine that, paired up with the 8-speed automatic transmission, generates an impressive 523 hp. In addition, an M Sport exhaust system and M Sport differential come equipped for increased performance capabilities. There is an electronically controlled damper with the Adaptive M Suspension, and the brakes get upgraded to special M Sport brakes. Also, the all-wheel drive system comes standard.
This vehicle rides atop bigger 20-inch bi-color M Star-spoke wheels and has roof rails done in high gloss shadowline color to match the trim. Some metallic paint color options open up, and an aerodynamic kit gets included. The interior gets upgraded to Vernasca leather upholstery and aluminum tetragon trim.
WiFi hot spot connectivity gets added on, as do a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, 20-way power multi-contour front seats, 4-zone automatic climate control, an active-charcoal micro-filter ventilation function, rain-sensing windshield wipers with automatic headlight control and speed that can be adjusted, adjustable wiping interval on the rear window washer/wiper, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Also, there are power outlets added to the storage compartment in the front center console, rear center console, and in the cargo area. Qi wireless charging comes equipped, as do remote engine start and ventilation on the front seats.
The LED headlights get upgraded to full icon adaptive lights, but that is really the only upgrade to the already extensive list of standard safety features.
Compare the 2021 BMW X5 M50i vs xDrive45e. What is the Difference?
The xDrive45e is the new kid on the block this model year, and this PHEV has some clear mechanical differences from the gas-only powertrain options. It combines the 3.0-L twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder that generates 282 hp. It is paired with an eDrive electric motor that gets 111 hp, giving the vehicle a total power output of 389 hp. Driving Dynamics Control comes with ELECTRIC, SPORT, HYBRID, and ADAPTIVE modes. A 2-axle self-leveling air suspension gets added on, and all-wheel drive comes standard.
This vehicle sits atop 19-inch V-spoke wheels and includes your choice between metallic or nonmetallic body paint colors. The BMW eDrive Services get included, which means that you get a charging station search function, charging and range status display, cabin preconditioning, and a charging timer. Automatic high beams get added to the list of safety features, and acoustic pedestrian detection does too. Otherwise, expect to find the same features that come on the xDrive40i.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 BMW X5 line-up offers you four excellent trim level choices. The new PHEV option is certainly an exciting one for those looking to save more on gas and improve their carbon footprints.
However, we think that the xDrive40i is the trim level to buy. Many people will benefit from the AWD system since it lends extra stability. It has plenty of standard features that make it worth its price tag. The powertrain is beefy enough while still providing a decent enough fuel economy. The M50i is nice, but most people will feel comfortable with the xDrive40i.
• Compare the 2020 BMW X5 Trim Levels