New BMW X5 45e vs Volvo XC90 T8: interiors

Want a luxury SUV but can’t stomach the fuel and tax bills? One of these plug-in hybrids from BMW and Volvo might be the answer...

BMW X5 45e dashboard - 69-plate car

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Both contenders have lofty seating positions with fine visibility all round, courtesy of big windows. With a great range of electric adjustment in their driver’s seats and lots of height and reach adjustment for their steering wheels, finding an ideal driving position is a doddle in both.

That said, it should be noted that our X5 test car came with ‘Comfort’ front seats that are part of a £2350 Comfort Package. This also brings heated rear seats, rear sunblinds, keyless entry and even heated and cooled cupholders, which are very effective. Both driver’s seats are exceedingly comfortable even after hours in the saddle, although we prefer the X5’s slightly squidgier seat base.

Handily, both cars have a memory function for the driver’s seats and door mirrors, so sharing the car with a partner who’s a different height from you needn’t cause any grumbling. Front and rear parking sensors are standard on both, as are reversing cameras.

Volvo XC90 T8 dashboard - 69-plate car

Both SUVs look flash inside, thanks to faux-leather-wrapped dashboards and door panels, real leather seats, digital instrument panels and dense plastics. However, the X5’s materials are that bit richer, its switches and knobs work slightly more pleasingly and its digital displays are noticeably crisper.

The X5’s digital dials are also more sophisticated than the XC90’s rather limited display, which can only show a map or music information in the gap between the ‘dials’. That said, the X5’s instruments feel a little like a case of style over substance; they aren’t as legible as we’d like.

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