Can a Hybrid BMW Stand Up to Muddy River Crossings? We Find Out

A hybrid to believe in.

The BMW X5 xDrive40e does things it shouldn’t be able to do, like: cross creeks, drive up steep muddy inclines, escape from steep grassy pits and handle all the rumbling, pocked-out, horrible, terrible, no-good roads that don’t deserve to see the undercarriage of such a fine suburban SUV.

So, why is this SUV that screams “I’m for the eco-conscious, non-gas-guzzler, affluent amigo!” worth taking off-road? Namely: eco-conscious, non-gas-guzzling, affluent amigos also like venturing into decently remote places where there are fewer paved roads and human beings, and more natural beauty. And, sometimes, they may like to bring their friends and family. To test this concept, I took this X5 to Vermont, the de facto proving grounds for all things properly hearty, with friends.

Why is this SUV that screams “I’m for the eco-conscious, non-gas-guzzler, affluent amigo!” worth taking off-road?

Most of the testing came during a visit to Vermont Overlander Peter Voller’s private property, where streams roll through his land and there is plenty of marshy landscape to rumble around in a 5,220-pound German beast. Vollers rolled his own overlanding-expert Land Rover Defender across the property, leading the charge, and asked me to have the BMW follow closely behind. The X5 did, and even in cases where Vollers suspected that the car would get stuck, it followed swimmingly. Creeks, inclines and deep ditches did little to allay the SUV. The only thing left on the ground after an afternoon of good frolicking? Vollers’ jaw.

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Engine: 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo Inline four-cylinder & eDrive electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed Steptronic automatic
Horsepower: 308
Torque: 260 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
MSRP: $62,100 (as tested)

But, again, this car shouldn’t be able to do this. It’s a plug-in hybrid that BMW likely put into the lineup to (a) cater to a small market of “green” aspiring SUV drivers and (b) meet the ever tightening government regulations on MPG figures and emissions. It’s a line-development car for BMW, and, in the hands of most drivers of the xDrive40e, it will likely never touch the dirt. But, it is still a BMW, and that means the permanent all-wheel-drive and the capable-enough engine — a 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a 111 horsepower electric motor — and the hearty suspension and the reasonable ground clearance mean that when your family/friend camping vacation does turn down the wrong rutted-out path, you’ll be just fine.

And so, in addition to what you get for plug-in value in this car — 13 miles all-electric off a full change, and around 30 MPG average — you also get a BMW SUV, and not one that’s been hampered by the small “e” in its name. It’s still the robust, German-engineered and Greer, South Carolina-manufactured marvel that can handle everything even a hardcore, local Vermont overlander can throw at it. And that, in my book, is plenty good for a hybrid.

Learn More: Here

Yakima Showcase 20


Yakima’s new Showcase 20 is the perfect companion for a luxury SUV that feels as at home in the city as it does off-road. With 20 cubic feet of space, the Showcase 20 has enough room for skis, boots, helmets, poles, and all the necessary clothing for an off-road adventure — with room to spare. Unlike many other cargo boxes with 20 cubic feet of space, the Showcase 20 still looks sleeks and low profile.

The mechanism for attaching the cargo box to the crossbars on just about any car is remarkably simple. Once you have the right settings dialed in, it’s as simple as flipping four latches to take the box on and off.

Buy Now: $779

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