On The Road

Hybrids are way to go

Because I am in the auto industry, many of my customers and friends ask me what kind of car I drive and which car would I buy.

A few years ago I wrote a similar article, but it was more about what I thought was best in class. This time, I will discuss what I drive and which vehicles are comparable to it.

My daily driver is a 2016 BMW X5 plug-in hybrid. I have always been a huge fan of BMW. When I wrote a similar article a few years back, I was driving a 2011 BMW X5 Diesel. I switched to the hybrid because I truly feel that the hybrid design (all cars) is the best concept. Full-electric cars and internal combustion cars have their drawbacks, whereas the plug-in hybrid uses technology from both sides.

I primarily drive electric because my commute is less than 10 miles, but I often use it for longer drives. We have several 50-amp charging stations at the shop, so I’m ready with a full charge in a short period of time. When I do have to use the internal combustion engine, the four-cylinder twin-turbo 2.0-liter gives me excellent power with great gas mileage.

My favorite thing about the car is its interface (the center display). The BMW iDrive system has come a long way in the past 17 years. The controls in the iDrive system are simple and efficient. Drivers may navigate myriad items – from navigation to entertainment and where to find the fuse box. I could probably write two or three articles alone on the amount of data in the iDrive system.

From the fully articulating seats to the climate control system, it is a comfortable car to drive on short and long trips. It handles exceptionally well and has good acceleration as long as it is in sport mode. All of the amenities I have in my X5 are available in other BMWs.

Room for improvement

An area I feel BMW could improve on with its X5 plug-in is the full electric range. I can only go approximately 12 miles on a full charge. Because the X5 weighs in at 6,000 pounds, it will be difficult to extend the range without major advancements in battery technology. I realize that the full electric battery uses regenerative braking, but I would also like to see it charged from the internal combustion engine on longer drives.

I also have a problem with the size of the car. If it were approximately 10 inches longer, the third-row seat would make sense, yet I do not think we will ever see that on the plug-in X5.

I have always considered the BMW X5 a midsize SUV. Other cars I like in its class include the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Lexus RX Hybrid and the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.

The main concern my customers have with the BMW is the general cost of ownership. One way to combat that is to visit the shop more frequently and stay on top of maintenance matters. If you are looking for a more economical midsize SUV, the Toyota and Lexus are great alternatives.

In 2014, BMW introduced its BMW X7, which is 8 inches longer than the X5. I do not think BMW will have a hybrid option in such a large car (X7), but one could dream.

Matt Pataky owns Sunnyvale Foreign Car Service, 15 Pioneer Way, Mountain View. For more information, call 960-6988, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit sunnyvaleforeigncar.com.

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