Confusingly, although SE models get electric driver’s seat backrest and height adjustment, fore and aft adjustment is manual. With this trim level, electric adjustment of the base is standard in only the V8 petrol.
M Sport models get full electric control of the driver’s seat, and adds a sportier seat style, but electric lumbar support is an option across the entire X5 range. Optional comfort seats bring an even greater range of electric adjustment than the standard seats. The comfort seats do provide more support, but even the X5’s standard seats give hold you in place well.
Whereas pedals on manual BMWs often don’t line up nicely, the X5 is automatic-only, so there’s no danger of having to sit in an awkward position for hours on end. The X5’s dash controls are all within easy reaching distance of the driver, too.
BMW X5 visibility
Good both forwards and backwards
Like all good large SUVs, the X5’s driving position is well elevated above the majority of traffic. Seeing out forwards is no problem, because it has a tall, wide windscreen and thin pillars that don’t get in the way. The front side windows are similarly helpful, making judging junctions and roundabouts that bit easier.
Sleek styling often gets in the way of the over-the-shoulder view because a sloping roofline and thick rear pillars block sight. However, the X5 remains pretty upright towards its rear, and as such, rear visibility is better than in most large SUVs. Front and rear parking sensors are standard.
BMW X5 infotainment
One of the best available on any car
Every BMW X5 gets the Professional version of BMW’s iDrive, which is one of the best infotainment systems on the market. The next best challenger is the XC90���s, but a Range Rover’s system is no comparison.
Professional iDrive consists of a 10.2in screen controlled using a rotary controller located between the front seats. The controller can also be knocked side to side and forwards and back, and is flanked by useful menu buttons.
It’s brilliant because the screen resolution is impressive, meaning the graphics are sharp, and all the menus are easy to get to grips with. DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB and Aux sockets, a 20GB hard drive and voice control of all these functions is included as standard on the X5.
BMW X5 build quality
Good quality, but doesn’t match that of its best rivals
It seems harsh to criticise the X5 for its interior quality, but the premium large SUV class features some of the finest interiors of any segment, and in some areas the X5 fails to quite keep up with the Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90.
That’s not to say anything feels flimsy. It’s quite the opposite, because the dashboard and door panels all have a sturdy feel to them. The dashboard also features soft-touch plastics higher up, and its various trim sections all look and feel plush.
However, some of the materials lower down in the car are less convincing, and the X5’s switches and knobs, while well damped, are the same as you get in a 1 Series hatchback that costs half the price.