The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Finding a comfortable driving position is a doddle. There’s electric seat adjustment that includes the backrest angle, the seat squab angle (and also you can extend the cushion) along with lumbar support, which can be moved up and down as well as in and out. With a memory function also standard, if someone else regularly uses your car it'll only take a second to return things to how you like it.
You’ll always have a commanding view of the road thanks to the seat's lofty positioning, and all the controls laid out logically around it. And, unlike rivals such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, there’s a spread of old-fashioned buttons and knobs for the heating controls (instead of them being integrated into a touchscreen). That means you can feel your way around them without diverting your gaze from the road.
A standard digital dashboard display takes the place of conventional analogue instruments, but it isn’t the best around. It's not very tailorable, lacking the different designs offered by the Q7's Virtual Cockpit, but the graphics are sharp. A head-up display is available as part of the Technology Pack.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
With chunky pillars at the rear corners, the X5 doesn’t offer quite as broad a view of the world out the back as it might, but that's not uncommon in this class. Its near-vertical tailgate window and large side windows are plus points, though, and it’s relatively easy to judge where the car’s nose ends.
Besides, you get front, rear and even side parking sensors as standard, not to mention a reversing camera, and a surround-view camera is also available as an option for a top-down view when parking. You are well served at night as well, thanks to standard LED headlights.
Sat nav and infotainment
The X5’s 12.3in infotainment system is one of its finest features. It’s very easy to use, incredibly quick and responsive and features a customisable display that allows you to choose between widgets that display frequently accessed information on the main screen, a little bit like you’d find on a smartphone. Alternatively, you can delve into the menus using a sidebar menu system, which, again, is intuitive and easy to get to grips with.
You get a glut of handy connected features, too. All X5s can receive over-the-air map updates and a navigation system that can connect to an app on your phone to provide tailored guidance. For example, it can monitor current traffic conditions to tell you when to leave for an appointment, as well as providing concierge services. There’s also a remote 3D view that allows you to see what’s around your car from afar.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are standard, so you can bypass the BMW software and use your phone's instead. The standard stereo sounds decent and there are Harman Kardon (standard on M50i) or Bowers and Wilkins upgrades if you like a bit more fidelity, although the latter is seriously pricey.
It’s truly hard to fault the sensation of quality you get inside the X5, which is right up there with the best, like the Audi Q7, and shades slightly the fit and finish of the Volvo XC90 . The dashboard is built from expensive-feeling materials and its high-quality inlays are instantly appealing. However, it’s the attention to detail that really impresses.
Real metal adorns several surfaces, in place of the metal-effect plastic you’ll find in lesser cars. Plush materials aren’t reserved solely for prominent locations, either; you’ll find attractive, tactile finishes even in places where you wouldn’t normally look. The upshot is an interior that feels every bit as luxurious as you’d expect an SUV of this calibre to be.
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