The largest SUV in BMW's fleet, the X5 is made for America. Originally a five-seater, recent enhancements add a third-row-seat option.
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The 2012 X5 is the second generation of the model. It shows BMW's traditional kidney grille, but otherwise is a hulking beast.
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In the xDrive35i trim, the X5 gets BMW's inline 3-liter six-cylinder engine, topped by a twin scroll turbo. It makes 300 horsepower, adequate for the 4,500-pound SUV.
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BMW calls its X5 a Sports Activity Vehicle, or SAV, although it is still technically classified as an SUV.
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The X5 comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system, which offers some advanced electronics to enhance handling.
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The rear hatch has a unique clamshell design, with a lower section that can serve as a bench when folded down.
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The interior of the X5 comes well-appointed, with luxury materials and quality switchgear.
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The rear bench does not adjust, but the seat backs fold down in a split arrangement, allowing multiple cargo configurations.
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Although this generation of the X5 has been around since 2007, BMW has kept the cabin tech up to date.
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The steering wheel has a solid, heavy feel. It demands a certain amount of engagement with the road.
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BMW continues to use its oddly sculpted shifter. In the X5, it controls an eight-speed transmission.
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The iDrive controller, with its dial and fixed buttons, takes a little getting used to, but has a good, solid feel.
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The rearview camera, very useful for this SUV, includes trajectory lines that predict the path of the X5.
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The main onscreen menu shows the usual features, such as navigation, audio, and phone, and also items for BMW telematics and a contact list.
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The navigation system's maps, stored on a hard drive, show traffic, topographical features, and rendered buildings
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HD radio comes standard in the X5, and lets you choose multicasts from stations that offer it.
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Satellite radio is also available in the X5.
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BMW classifies devices and other storage media under a different audio source menu than radio sources. The Music Collection item is the car's own onboard storage.
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The design of this music library interface is one of the few faults we can find with the X5.
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The stock audio system in the X5 includes 10 speakers and a 205-watt amp. An available premium audio system adds more speakers and power, and includes a multiband equalizer in the iDrive interface.
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The optional rear-seat entertainment system includes a screen mounted to the back of the console.
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