Driving position and dashboard
Finding a comfortable driving position is a doddle, with electric seat adjustment that covers backrest angle, seat squab (including the extendable cushion) and lumbar support (which can be moved up and down as well as in and out).
A memory function is standard on the driver’s seat, too, so if someone else regularly uses your car, it only takes a button’s press to return the seat to your driving position.
All of the controls are logically laid out and easy to understand. Happily, BMW has resisted the temptation to add a second touchscreen for ancillary controls; instead, there’s a spread of old-fashioned buttons and dials, which you can feel your way around without diverting your gaze from the road ahead.
Particularly clever is the use of silver trim on the climate control buttons to make them stand out. In partnership with the small screens that are devoted to temperature readouts, they put climate control adjustment at your fingertips and not hidden in an infotainment system sub-menu.
Meanwhile, there’s a standard digital dashboard display in place of conventional analogue instruments, but it isn’t the best around. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – admittedly offered only as option on the Q7 – is clearer and easier to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
With chunky pillars between the rearmost side windows and the tailgate, the X5 doesn’t offer quite as broad a view of the world outside as it might, but its near-vertical tail and large windows still afford pretty decent visibility.
With the tops of the front wings visible from the driver’s seat, it’s relatively easy to judge where the nose of the car ends, too. Nevertheless, you get front, rear and even side parking sensors as standard, not to mention a reversing camera.
Sat nav and infotainment
The X5’s 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 get 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.
There is a catch, though: many of these systems are only free to use for the first three years of your ownership. After that, you’ll need to pay a subscription if you want to keep using them. What’s more, it seems a little stingy that free use of Apple CarPlay is only provided for a year, and Android Auto isn't available even as an option.
It’s truly hard to fault the sensation of quality you get inside the X5. 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 certain rivals. 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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