Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
We wanted to do something really different on this particular road trip especially since we would also be using BMW’s newest X5 variant, the xDrive40e hybrid which promised extended fuel range and cleaner emissions without compromising its core dynamic values. Naturally, we had to challenge those claims.
Scouring through the internet I found an event that I had never experienced and longed for ever since I used to watch reruns on TV of the traditional anthology series: ABC’s Wide World of Sports hosted by Jim McKay in the late 70’s which showed both the most popular and least broadcasted sporting events which included Rodeo! I often thought that I would only be able to watch a genuine live rodeo in South Dakota, Texas, or Wyoming. Although the Grand National Rodeo, Horse, and Stock Show, which is regarded as one of the largest rodeo events in the US, is the most physically accessible since it is held annually at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, the scheduling however had never worked out for me.
So, when I discovered that a full-scale rodeo would be held only 450 kilometers away from San Francisco, California, in Virginia City, Nevada for the first time in nearly 20 years for a weekend, I immediately booked tickets. Aptly named “The Way It Was Rodeo” the event was hosted by the legendary Cotton Rosser and his Flying U Rodeo team who have been putting up quality family-oriented rodeo entertainment for over 60 years. The rodeo was held at the Virginia City Arena and Fairgrounds where locals boast that it has impressive views of the historic town as well as 100-mile scenery of the surrounding valleys. The rodeo itself was an enticing draw but its location made it even more special. There is a reason why the organizers named the event in relation to Virginia City that sits 6,150 feet above sea level with less than a 1,000 population where once a peak of 25,000 had lived. Have you heard about the city before? I am an avid history buff and I haven’t heard of it either.
Our Alpine White 2017 BMW X5 xDrive40e test unit had the very tasteful Mocha Nappa leather interior with the superior Fineline Pure Wood trim, panoramic roof and the rest of the usual brilliant packaging. I was worried at first that I would find the xDrive40e limp-wristed and anemic especially when climbing through the Sierras toward Lake Tahoe where we would stay during the weekend at the Incline Village. I checked out the hotels found in Virginia City where they looked so period-perfect that it scared the bejesus out of Isabel. It’s a whole different ball game when hotels actually celebrate how haunted they are even offering a number of Ghost tours. With the focus back to the rodeo, I decided to not risk a terrifying stay in any local hotel there in case we also leave the city with an old prospector spirit in the back seat hitching to change environments!
Off the bat, the BMW felt no less powerful than a xDrive35i. It may have lost no more than .3 tenths of a second of acceleration from rest, but in real world driving, it did not matter at all because the most usable powerband, which is found in the middle, was dramatically potent which actually made it faster so passing several cars at a time while climbing was very effortless. The only pause I did have initially though was when there was enough power accumulated and stored through the hybrid system and the electric propulsion would kick in, it would shut the engine down to zero revs. You get used to it, and you do get rewarded with healthy fuel savings. In fact, this BMW was the most efficient vehicle that we tested in our 15-car 18-day test schedule despite traveling almost 2,000 kilometers over a multitude of terrain and refueled only once!
The actual full-EV range is only roughly 24 kilometers and you can travel up to 120 km/h before the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine blends seamlessly back in play. If you really had to, you could plug-in the supplied (1.4 kW) cable and apply the AC Charging (3.5 kW) which would roughly take 3 hours for a full battery. I didn’t see the need and ran the X5 like a standard hybrid and still got the desired results. As much as I love BMW turbodiesels, I prefer this xDrive40e setup (applying technology inherited from the BMW i8) even over the xDrive35i. The 111-hp electric motor stealthily melds with the gasoline produced 240 bhp in its own classy way that never made me feel wanting to the point that this variant has actually become my new favorite in the entire model lineup short of the X5M. Every single BMW core value of luxury, refinement, and performance are not only retained but accentuated precisely because you are actually in a hybrid. If you want a do-everything luxury all-weather performance 5-seater with a capacious trunk and exemplary range, the BMW X5 xDrive40e is the very best in the business.
The 3rd generation X5 may be nearing its next evolution but boy did it standout against every vehicle and building in Virginia City. The tiny city looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1800’s which is both really cool and a bit creepy. A lot of the Victorian-era original structures that house saloons, restaurants, and casinos still stand albeit with appropriate restorations to maintain its authenticity. The Fourth Ward School, for example, is referred to as “The Last One Standing,” because it is supposed to be the only four-story wooden structure left of its type in America. One hotel, the Gold Hill, is apparently Nevada’s oldest operating hotel which was built in 1861. You can also brave some ghost hunting at the Washoe Club if you are up to it.
With no real clue what to expect at the rodeo and having never been to the Comstock city, Isabel and I drove in early to also find a secure parking spot. We quickly realized that we had not only come way too early, a whole three hours before showtime, we were the only Asians. Please don’t get me wrong, every single person was warm and super friendly, we just stood out, perhaps only in our minds. Speaking of warm and unprepared, we completely got scorched waiting in the stands. It got HOT really quick, in fact we are still healing from the burns. By the time I gave up and got us proper cowboy hats the damage was already done.
Was all the waiting, sun and country food all worth it in the end? Absolutely! The unique two-hour non-stop entertainment started with a skydiver sailing down into the dusty arena flying a huge US flag! Talk about an entrance! Next came the Extreme Team Bronc Riders with multiple wild horses, followed by adorable competing kid riders on wild mutton! Throughout the entire rodeo, the host kept the energy up gloriously with humor, dancing, and wild antics. There wouldn’t be a rodeo without massively fierce bull riding, trick roping, soaring freestyle motorcycles, cowgirl barrel racing, Clydesdales, cowgirl trick riding, and Mexican bull fights! I recommend you bring friends and family to at least one rodeo in your life!
Specification – 2017 BMW X5 xDrive40e
Engine: Inline-4, 1997 cc, Direct Injection Intercooled VGT Turbo, Atkinson-cycle dohc 16V, Valvetronic, Double-VANOS, 9.2-kWh (26 Ah) lithium-ion battery, AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous 111hp Drive Motor, 8-Speed Steptronic AT
Max power: 240 bhp @ 5000-6500 rpm (Gasoline), 111 hp (Electric) = 308 hp net
Max torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1250-4800 rpm (Gasoline), 72 lb ft (Electric)= 332 lb-ft
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 6.6 sec.
Top Speed: 210 km/h (130 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 23 mpg City / 25 mpg Highway (56 MPGe overall)
Price as tested: US$ 73,545.00
C! RATING 10/10
+Could be the best generalist X5, very refined, excellent fuel efficiency, still properly dynamic when needed
-Not sold in the Philippines yet