The obvious interior change for the second-generation BMW X5 was the addition of two extra pews. Less obvious is that these are not fitted as standard by BMW. For those who see the need, the cost is more than £1000 and the loss of a useful 90-litre underboot cavity.
When needed, the seats are assembled by pulling the back upright, although this is more easily done by reaching back from the side doors than leaning in from the boot.
To improve third-row access, the middle seats slide via a release lever conveniently placed on the outside shoulder back, and the mechanism is counterbalanced to make sliding the seats in either direction equally effortless. BMW recommends the rearmost seats are suitable for passengers up to 1.7 metres tall – about 5ft 7in – but in reality even this is a squeeze.
Boot space ranges from 200 litres to 1750 litres. The middle-row accommodation is adequate if not exceptional, although it can be spruced up with optional DVD screens and individual four-zone climate control.
The now familiar (and widely emulated) iDrive control wheel is accompanied by an equally modern piece of design: a gear selector that juts from the central tunnel like a shard of glass. This selector returns to its centre position after you’ve chosen the direction of travel (forwards for reverse, backwards for Drive), saving cabin space. We’ve no problem with the selector’s location, but to control such a large vehicle with such a delicate instrument seems unnatural.
The parking brake is electronic and operated by a toggle-style switch on the transmission tunnel. There’s also the option of a head-up display and a parking camera to supplement the standard-fit front and rear parking sensors.
Kit levels are generous, with standard models including air-con, cruise control, leather trim, parking sensors and automatic wipers and lights.