$15,042 - $18,984

2012 BMW X5 Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 BMW X5 was new.


Interior: 7.6

While the 2012 X5 doesn’t betray its BMW brand in terms of luxury and quality, reviewers have a few bones to pick with the SUV. Many say that iDrive, the SUV’s control system for audio, climate, navigation and Bluetooth functions, still takes too much time and attention to use safely while driving, and test drivers who have tried out the rear two rows of seats say they’re too small to be comfortable for adults.

  • "As a front-running luxury crossover, the X5 offers nearly every modern convenience we've come to expect. Evolving improvements to BMW's iDrive interface makes controlling these features easy as well." -- Edmunds
  • "Interior materials exhibit a nice blend of durability and luxury, and are assembled with care. Cabin color choice plays a major role in perception of materials quality. Monotone black cabin appears stark when compared to richer beige and brown trim." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Alterations or no, the interior looks fine in a vacuum and functions well. … After a few hours behind the wheel, we even shined up to the next-generation iDrive and the Rube Goldberg e-shifter lever. However, newer crossovers like the 2011 Lincoln MKX feature more innovative interior designs that will cause the arguably traditional and straightforward design of the X5 to look dated and behind the curve." -- Autoblog


The 2012 BMW X5 comes standard with 10-way power-adjustable, leatherette front bucket seats and split-folding rear seats that recline and slide forward and backward for easier entrance to the optional third row. Reviewers say that while the X5’s front seats are generally comfortable, the second row is mounted too low to the ground for some adults. The available third row is only fit for children, and entry and exit require an awkward climb. Heated front seats come standard on xDrive35i Premium and Sport Activity models, as well as xDrive50i models, but are an option on base and diesel models.

  • "The front seats are nicely shaped and adjust for a wide range of body types (the optional comfort seats offer even more adjustment). The 2012 X5's cabin is not without its drawbacks, though. The second-row seats are mounted a bit too low to the floor, even though headroom is plentiful. Longer-legged passengers will likely bemoan this seating position, as it forces knees upwards." -- Edmunds
  • "Third-row space is tight." -- Car and Driver
  • "Note that when not in use, the screen of the available DVD entertainment system rests atop the center console armrest rather than dropping from the ceiling; some testers find their elbows frequently bump against the screen, whether it is raised or not." -- Consumer Guide

Interior Features

Reviewers say the BMW X5 comes with standard features that are average for the class. The base price includes a tilt and telescopic leather steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a 10-speaker audio system with an AM/FM/CD player, an auxiliary input and iPod/USB integration. One reviewer had a hard time with the standard front parking sensors, which continued to beep warnings even when the SUV was in reverse, as well as with the air conditioning, which seemed to struggle to cool the SUV down.

One of the biggest debates surrounding the BMW X5 has to do with its complicated iDrive user interface. Though it’s become less complex since the original version, reviewers say it can still be tough to use. If you’re technologically inclined, you may appreciate all the functions that iDrive has absorbed, like some climate control functions, navigation, BMW Assist and suspension settings. But, if controlling most aspects of your vehicle through a single knob sounds too complicated, check out the Lexus RX 350. Reviewers say the mouse-like controller used to interact with the navigation, audio and climate systems is simple to learn and easy to use.

  • “With some acclimation, iDrive begins to make sense - but it's also bound to make some shoppers run out of the showroom." -- Left Lane News
  • "Specific nicks include the parking assist feature that insisted on warning us of things in front of the vehicle when we were in Reverse; an A/C system that seemed to struggle to keep the cabin comfortable in humid 80-degree weather, and the plain painted door sills." -- Autoblog
  • "Frequently used audio and climate controls are thankfully separate from the iDrive system, but those adjustments governed by iDrive require a long look from the road. The optional navigation system demands frustrating interaction with complex controls and cryptic markings." -- Consumer Guide


The 2012 BMW X5 can hold a maximum of 75.2 cubic feet of cargo, or 23.2 cubic feet with all seats in use. Adding the optional third row to your X5 will decrease the latter number even further. If you need to carry even more in your sporty luxury SUV, try the Acura MDX. Its maximum 83.5 cubic feet of cargo space make it one of the roomiest luxury crossovers on the market.

Reviewers say the X5 has a high load floor, so it’s harder to lift heavy or bulky things into the back. Still, a few mention the handy under-floor storage area, and say the cargo hold has plenty of space for everyday use. All models of the X5 come standard with a power split liftgate, which automotive journalists appreciate.

  • "One of the X5's standout convenience features is its well-executed split tailgate. The top section opens upward as it normally does on any other SUV, but the bottom portion folds downward to create a flat loading floor and, in addition to making it easier to load large and heavy objects, protects the paint of the bumper from being damaged during loading and can double as a seat when convenient." -- Motor Trend
  • "There's plenty of space in the cargo area, and it was easy to get to with the power liftgate. There's a sleek-looking cargo-area cover to hide your latest purchases from prying eyes, as well as a hidden compartment under the cargo floor." -- Mother Proof
  • "With the 3rd-row seat up, there's enough room for a row of grocery bags; with it folded, space is good. All seat backs fold flat to further increase capacity. X5's liftgate has a clam-shell design that creates a drop-down tailgate section. High liftover means the tailgate must be dropped to load even moderately sized items." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A muscular station wagon, the X5 is a basic two-box design featuring strong shoulders, short overhangs at the front and rear wheels, and loads of interior space for the often-weekly visits to Home Depot or area antique shops. Heaven forbid it shows up at a garage sale or K-Mart. That's Dodge Grand Caravan territory." -- Left Lane News

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