In early December, I bought the first 2016 X5 plug-in hybrid SUV delivered to BMW San Francisco. I love the car but it's not for everyone.
My choice: In the spring, I ordered a Tesla X, but the delivery date kept slipping. Then in October, Consumer Reports announced that it was reconsidering the reliability of the Tesla S. That caused me to reconsider my plans.
I live in Berkeley and have another house in West Sonoma County - where the roads are notoriously awful. (I've driven into a pothole and broken an axle.) I realized that if I was driving the Tesla in West County and had a problem, I'd have to have the car towed to Fremont (95 miles). Then I remembered that new BMWs come with "run flat" tires and there is a BMW agency in Santa Rosa (15 miles).
I went online to find that BMW had just begun taking orders for a plug-in hybrid, the 2016 X5 xdrive 40e.
Basics: The X5 SUV is a terrific car and I have enjoyed it immensely. The battery to gasoline (eDrive) transition is idiot proof. The battery takes about 10 hours to charge and goes 17-19 miles. That's enough for me to do all my daily Berkeley driving without using any gasoline. (The EPA rating - electricity plus gasoline - is 56 MPG. That seems high; so far I've only been able to verify 35+.)
This is a big (5000 pounds), comfortable car that has all the familiar BMW driving features: good acceleration - power when you need it, nimble handling, and so forth. With the SUV hybrid you give up the possibility of having a third row of seats but I didn't care about that. The cargo space is 72 cubic feet with the back seats folded down (about one-third more than my previous ride, a BMW station wagon).
Problems: There are so many good features of this car that it is easier to list the disappointments. 1. I ordered an upgraded (Harmon-Kardon) sound system and the radio came without an AM band - apparently that's standard. 2. When you lock the car and you leave your dog inside, you have to lock it VERY CAREFULLY or your dog will trigger the motion alarm. 3. If you drop someone off, and put the car in PARK, the car will not go out of PARK unless you shut the motor off. 4. The driver's side door corner is just the right height to smack you in the forehead, if you are not careful. (Probably you only do this only once.)
Technology: The BMW X5 has critical reviews that say the xDrive controller is too complicated. Of course, this is relative; the Tesla is very complicated.
Full disclosure: I am very technical: a computer scientist and the first engineering VP at Cisco Systems. For convenience I have divided my friends into three groups in terms of their technical sophistication:
1. Unable to set up a Sonos wireless sound system by themselves, the unsophisticated. If this is you, then the BMW X5 is probably too much; you won't get your money's worth because you won't be able to use most of the bells and whistles.
2. Other end of the spectrum - you set up your own satellite TV system (including mounting the dish). You will love the BMW X5 because it is one big technology toy store.
3. In between: you think of yourself as technically savvy but occasionally have to call for assistance - such as when your smart phone freezes or you can't add a printer to your wireless network. You can get your money's worth out of the X5 but you will have to use the resources provided: manuals, videos, and the "genius" system.
BMW San Francisco has technical support people they call "geniuses." They should be able to answer all your questions. I dealt with two of these guys. One was very knowledgeable and the other not so much.
I have been able to figure out the xDrive controller system on my own: by, first, downloading the manual before I got the car (only to find that certain systems had changed); playing around with the actual car; reading and rereading the manual that came with the car; and looking things up on the web.
There are certain xDrive components that are not adequately documented and the only way you can figure out how to use them is to experiment. For example, there are 6 audio inputs: conventional radio, satellite radio, Internet radio, CD, vehicle hard disk, and external device (IPOD). There is virtually no documentation on Internet radio but it works fine; I use "TuneIn" on a paired Samsung Galaxy 5. The IPOD classic only works if you have the right cable. Etcetera. But once you get it all hooked up it sounds great!
The navigation system is terrific, however it's very awkward to input an address. If I'm going to go somewhere unfamiliar the night before I add the location to my Google contacts, which are available via my paired phone. Then the day of the drive I dial the contact via the navigation system and instruct it to drive to the location.
Bottom Line: I love my BMW X5 hybrid, but I would not recommend it to a friend who is not technically sophisticated