2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e vs. 2020 Ford Explorer

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The X5 xDrive45e’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Explorer doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the X5 xDrive45e. But it costs extra on the Explorer.

Both the X5 xDrive45e and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

The BMW X5 xDrive45e weighs 703 to 1327 pounds more than the Ford Explorer. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The X5 xDrive45e comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Explorer’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The X5 xDrive45e’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Explorer’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X5 xDrive45e for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Explorer.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

Engine

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The X5 xDrive45e’s 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 89 more horsepower (389 vs. 300) and 133 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 310) than the Explorer’s standard 2.3 turbo 4-cylinder. The X5 xDrive45e’s 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 71 more horsepower (389 vs. 318) and 121 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 322) than the Explorer’s optional 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid. The X5 xDrive45e’s 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 24 more horsepower (389 vs. 365) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 380) than the Explorer Platinum’s standard 3.0 turbo V6. The X5 xDrive45e’s 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 28 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 415) than the Explorer ST’s standard 3.0 turbo V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the X5 xDrive45e running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:

MPGe

X5 xDrive45e

AWD

Electric Motor

47 city/54 hwy

Explorer

MPG

RWD

3.3 V6 Hybrid

27 city/29 hwy

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

3.3 V6 Hybrid

23 city/26 hwy

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

The X5 xDrive45e’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 16 miles, about 5 times as far as the Explorer’s 3 mile range.

Transmission

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The X5 xDrive45e’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Explorer doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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The X5 xDrive45e’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the Explorer ST are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the X5 xDrive45e has larger standard tires than the Explorer (265/50R19 vs. 255/65R18).

The X5 xDrive45e’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Explorer’s standard 65 series tires. The X5 xDrive45e’s optional 275/40R21 front and 315/35R21 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X5 xDrive45e has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Explorer.

Suspension and Handling

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The front and rear suspension of the X5 xDrive45e uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Explorer, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The X5 xDrive45e has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Explorer’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The X5 xDrive45e has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The X5 xDrive45e’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Explorer doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For greater off-road capability the X5 xDrive45e has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8.3 vs. 7.9 inches), allowing the X5 xDrive45e to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The X5 xDrive45e is 4.5 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the X5 xDrive45e easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the X5 xDrive45e’s available third row seats recline. The Explorer’s third row seats don’t recline.

Towing

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The X5 xDrive45e’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Explorer’s (7200 vs. 3000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

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The X5 xDrive45e uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Explorer uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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The X5 xDrive45e offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Explorer doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The X5 xDrive45e’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Explorer’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The X5 xDrive45e’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Explorer’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

When the X5 xDrive45e is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Explorer’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

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