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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.
The 2012 X5 is the second generation of the model. It shows BMW's traditional kidney grille, but otherwise is a hulking beast.
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.
BMW calls its X5 a Sports Activity Vehicle, or SAV, although it is still technically classified as an SUV.
The X5 comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system, which offers some advanced electronics to enhance handling.
The rear hatch has a unique clamshell design, with a lower section that can serve as a bench when folded down.
The interior of the X5 comes well-appointed, with luxury materials and quality switchgear.
The rear bench does not adjust, but the seat backs fold down in a split arrangement, allowing multiple cargo configurations.
Although this generation of the X5 has been around since 2007, BMW has kept the cabin tech up to date.
The steering wheel has a solid, heavy feel. It demands a certain amount of engagement with the road.
BMW continues to use its oddly sculpted shifter. In the X5, it controls an eight-speed transmission.
The iDrive controller, with its dial and fixed buttons, takes a little getting used to, but has a good, solid feel.
The rearview camera, very useful for this SUV, includes trajectory lines that predict the path of the X5.
The main onscreen menu shows the usual features, such as navigation, audio, and phone, and also items for BMW telematics and a contact list.
The navigation system's maps, stored on a hard drive, show traffic, topographical features, and rendered buildings
HD radio comes standard in the X5, and lets you choose multicasts from stations that offer it.
Satellite radio is also available in the X5.
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.
The design of this music library interface is one of the few faults we can find with the X5.
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.
The optional rear-seat entertainment system includes a screen mounted to the back of the console.