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2012 BMW 5-Series Hybrid Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 BMW 5-Series Hybrid was new.


Interior: 8.0

Since the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 has basically the same interior as the 2012 5-Series, most reviewers have focused on the differences between the two models. However, that’s not a bad thing since the 5-Series is known for its comfortable, upscale cabin.

Overall, auto writers are impressed with the ActiveHybrid 5’s standard navigation system, which can work with the powertrain to maximize efficiency along planned routes. Like most hybrids, however, the ActiveHybrid 5 also loses a sizeable chunk of trunk space to accommodate the electric motor’s battery pack.

  • "The rest of the cabin is classic 5 Series, which is no bad thing. It's true that the 5 looks like a scaled-down facsimile of a 7 Series, but that's more likely to worry owners of the top-line model." -- Edmunds 
  • "That said, the navigation system's software may be even more remarkable. Where it's available, topographical information is continuously assessed to maximize the hybrid's performance and efficiency envelope." -- Motor Trend 


The ActiveHybrid 5 offers the same seats as the non-hybrid 5-Series, which reviewers generally consider comfortable and supportive. One test driver comments that finding a good driving position is easy, thanks to a great deal of adjustability.

  • "The quality is tremendous, with the exception of some nasty plastic on the internal B-pillar, and the driving position is made perfect by a steering wheel that offers an exceptionally long range of telescopic adjustment." -- Edmunds 

Interior Features

Reviewers like the standard navigation system’s technological advances. The hybrid uses topographical data along your planned route (if available) to maximize fuel efficiency. For example, if you’re driving through hilly terrain, the 5-Series Hybrid will deplete its batteries on the way up, as long as the path leads you back downhill, where it can recapture energy through its regenerative brakes.  

In addition to working with the drivetrain, the navigation screen also displays information about fuel economy and the hybrid system’s operation.

  • "More unusual is BMW's use of the standard navigation system. Assuming it has sufficient data, the system can analyze the terrain and set the car up accordingly. For example, if it identifies that a sharp uphill is followed by a long descent, it will happily use all the battery power on the way up, knowing that it will be replenished. It's clever, but its success depends on the quality and quantity of the navigation data, which is far from consistent." -- Edmunds 
  • "The interior's most noticeable difference arrives courtesy of the 9.2-inch iDrive screen that displays graphics showing the current state of the car's hybrid powertrain. The screen is where you see what mode you're driving in and where you keep tabs on DDC settings as well. It's here where you can select the optional ultra cushy Comfort+ mode and float through the clouds you're helping keep free from acid rain." -- Autoblog 


Since the batteries are mounted in its trunk, reviewers say that like most hybrids, the ActiveHybrid 5 has less cargo space than the non-hybrid model. This also means that the 5-Series Hybrid lacks rear seats that can fold to increase cargo capacity. Still, one reviewer notes that the trunk is still large enough to be useful. The ActiveHybrid 5 has 10 cubic feet of trunk space, which is very small for the class. 

  • "All this is not to say that the hybrid is totally free of drawbacks. The most notable is reduced trunk space. The battery pack is located behind the back seat and as a result, cargo volume drops by roughly one third." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The motor is integrated into the transmission, while the lithium-ion battery pack is housed in the trunk, just behind the rear seats. It pinches a not inconsiderable 5.1 cubic feet of space, which leaves 13.2 cubic feet." -- Edmunds 
  • "The battery resides within the trunk, between the wheel wells, where it consumes 28 percent of the cargo space, though what's left is still a credible cargo hold." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The battery sits between the rear wheel arches where it's well-protected but also unfortunately precludes the option of a split-fold rear seat. BMW say because of the 5's design cycle, engineers were unable to accommodate a low mounting place for the battery pack." -- Road and Track 

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