New BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 hybrids vs Lexus NX: interiors

Running on a diet of petrol and electricity, these large SUVs all put efficiencyfirst. Time to see which offers the best all-round recipe...

New BMW X3 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

All three of our contenders have enough driver's seat adjustment to suit both the very small and the very tall. What's more, in the Lexus NX and Volvo XC60, those seats have electric adjustment (including four-way lumbar support), together with a memory function so you can recall your preferred settings at the touch of a button after someone else has been driving the car. 

Conversely, moving the driver's seat in the BMW X3 involves manual labour, and electrically adjustable lumbar support is a £195 option. You can get a Comfort Plus Pack (fitted to our test car) that introduces adjustable lumbar support, fully adjustable electric seat adjustment and a memory setting, but considering the pack's hefty £1950 price, we'd be tempted to add the optional lumbar support individually and do the rest of the seat tweaking ourselves. 

New Volvo XC60 dashboard

So, when you're finished fine-tuning everything, which car has the best driving position? Well, the NX and XC60 offer more supportive and, crucially, more comfortable seats than the X3, but the XC60 has the edge for us, because it places you farther from the road than the NX. 

That high driving position helps make the XC60 the easiest to see out of, closely followed by the X3. Both cars have big side windows and door mirrors, but the XC60's slimmer windscreen pillars give it the advantage when navigating roundabouts and junctions. The NX, with its lower driving position and chunkier pillars, is the hardest to see out of at junctions.

All three come with front and rear sensors and a rear-view camera to help with parking. The NX and XC60 also give you a 360-degree camera; you only get one on the BMW if you add the £2350 Technology Plus Pack.

Lexus NX dashboard

In terms of quality, the XC60 is the classiest inside; the materials look and feel great, with squishy plastics at key touch points and open-pore wood trim adds extra class. On top of this, all the buttons work with a precision that, dare we say it, feels somewhat Germanic.

It’s a closer-run thing between the X3 and NX. The former is beautifully screwed together and its soft dashboard materials and consistent panel gaps impart an upmarket feel throughout. However, the NX isn’t far behind, and we’d argue that it looks a little more special; the X3’s interior is almost identical to that of the much cheaper BMW 3 Series saloon. 

Infotainment systems


New BMW X3 infotainment

The X3 doesn’t have the very latest version of BMW’s iDrive system that you’ll find in the new BMW iX, but we actually prefer the older one, with its clearer, more intuitive menus. You can use the touchscreen to make selections, but using the rotary controller between the front seats is far easier when you’re driving. As part of the Tech Pack fitted to our test car, you get a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, or you can add it as a separate £820 option.

Volvo XC60

New Volvo XC60 infotainment

At first glance, the XC60’s infotainment system seems brilliant; it uses a high-definition, portrait-orientated 9.0in touchscreen with swipeable menus and is reminiscent of a tablet to use. In practice, though, it’s rather clunky. Often taking time to respond to inputs, and with small icons and menus spread over numerous layers, it’s very distracting to use on the move. At least the 13-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound audio system sounds superb.

Lexus NX

Lexus NX infotainment

Lexus has become infamous for its overly complicated infotainment systems, so it might come as a surprise to hear that the system in the NX has a very intuitive user interface. Control is via a touchscreen, measuring 14.0in in the spec of our test car (with the £950 Lexus Link Pro Pack added), so it’s more distracting than the rotary controller in the X3. However, unlike the system in the XC60, its icons are well spaced out and the screen responds promptly to prods.

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