The X5’s interior is well put together and everything’s easy to use but it just doesn’t feel quite as special as what you get in some alternatives
The BMW X5’s interior certainly feels upmarket – you’ll struggle to find a surface that doesn’t come with a slick metal, leather or soft-touch plastic finish – but it’s starting to show its age against the more eye-catchingly luxurious cabins you get in a Volvo XC90 and Lexus RX.
Thankfully, all X5s come very well-equipped as standard. Even entry-level SE cars get heated leather seats and a smart widescreen infotainment system that’s easier to use than anything you’ll find in an Audi or Mercedes.
Instead of a touchscreen, you get a handy scroll wheel and some physical shortcut buttons to help you tweak the stereo settings without taking your eyes off the road. All X5s come with BMW’s professional satellite navigation system with live traffic updates as standard, too.
Pick an M Sport model and things get distinctly darker inside thanks to a grey roof lining, glossy wood trims and heavily bolstered black leather sports seats. These are available on standard SE models too, but you’ll have to fork out an extra £475.
Inside, the X5 feels a bit like a forgettable plus one at the SUV party. You’ll struggle to remember anything about it it the next day but it doesn’t make complete fool of itself either
Put simply, the BMW X5’s infotainment system is the easiest to use of any large SUV. All models come with a 10.2-inch widescreen display, satellite navigation and an easy-to-use rotary dial down on the centre console. It’s much more intuitive than the awkward touchpad and wheel pairing you get in a GLE and streets ahead of the RX’s infuriating mouse-style arrangement.
The BMW’s menus are logically laid out and there’s a set of physical shortcut buttons down by the scroll wheel that help make it dead easy to switch between key features as you drive along.
Inputting a postcode is a breeze and the intuitive sat-nav menus make it simple to alter your route or add a waypoint. Live traffic updates that refresh every three minutes come as standard, too – so there’s less chance you’ll get stuck in any surprise tailbacks.
You also get BMW’s Smartphone Connect app as standard (so you can use some of your phone’s features through the car’s built-in display) but it’s not quite as easy to use or as comprehensive as the optional £235 Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring system, which is well worth having if you’re an iPhone user.
The X5’s standard-fit stereo is reasonably loud and bassy but you can choose between two upgraded systems if you want to make the most of your music library. Hand over an extra £900 and you get a noticeably better Harman Kardon system but the range-topping Bang & Olufsen model is in a league of its own. You’ll have to be a die-hard audiophile to justify its £3,000 price tag, however.