In partnership with Autotrader
Used test: Audi Q7 vs BMW X5: interiors
By buying used you can have either of these great luxury SUVs for a fraction of the price you'd pay new. But which car is the best choice?...
Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality
When you’re spending this much money on a used luxury SUV, you don’t just want the interior to look special – you want it to blow you away. Thankfully, BMW got the memo, and the BMW X5 is positively jaw-dropping inside. The Audi Q7 is a class act too, but it's a bit on the conservative side.
The X5’s dashboard is angled to create a driver-focused environment, and while the Q7 has a slight advantage in terms of the quality of its materials, the X5 isn’t far behind. Indeed, from the stitching on the leather dashboard to the acres of brushed aluminium and piano-black trim, everything looks and feels fantastic. However, the Q7 has the more configurable and easier-to-read digital instrument panel.
The MMI infotainment system system in the Q7 we're testing here was replaced in 2019, but is actually better than the later version. Its retractable 8.3in display is sharp, the menus are easy to navigate and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring are standard (so you can connect your phone's apps to the screen). It’s also easy to use on the move, thanks to a rotary controller that's located in front of the gear selector, and a touch-sensitive pad helps with inputting destinations into the sat-nav.
Still, as good as it is, it has to play second fiddle to the X5’s iDrive set-up. This allows you to choose between different widgets that display information on the main screen – a bit like you’d find on a smartphone. You can then delve deeper using a sidebar menu system that’s easy to get to grips with. You get a touchscreen and a rotary controller too, so it’s a breeze to input destinations whether you’re parked up or on the move.
In terms of driving position, you sit higher up in the X5 than you do in the Q7 when their seats are in their lowest settings. It’s easy to raise yourself up to the same height in the Q7 because both cars come with electric adjustment as standard. Four-way lumbar adjustment and extendable under-thigh support should ensure your back and legs don’t get sore.
Apart from being fractionally wider up front than the Q7, the X5 is outgunned in terms of interior space. As we’ve noted before, the Q7 is an exceptional piece of packaging, giving front and middle-row passengers significantly more head and leg room than in the X5. From new, you could have added a third row of seats to your X5, but those third-row seats are nowhere near as spacious as the Q7’s, so few buyers took up the offer.
The X5 can't match the Q7 for boot space either, even without the third-row seats fitted. In fact, it has one of the least impressive boots in the class, with less space than in rivals including the Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90.
On the other hand, the X5’s split tailgate is genuinely useful for loading larger items because you can rest them on the lower section – which folds down – before sliding them into the boot. The upper half opens and closes electrically, and a powered lower half was available as an option.
Best 7-seat SUVs and 4x4s 2022
Whether you're planning to carry seven people on a regular basis or just need an occasional third row of seats, there’s plenty of SUVs to choose from. But which are best – and which are best avoided?
BMW X7 long-term test review
The BMW X7 is one of the largest and most luxurious SUVs you can buy, but does owning a car with such overtly American proportions really make sense in the UK? We’re living with one to find out