With a base price of nearly $54,000, the 2015 BMW X5 keeps in line with its competitors. There are a few options that we feel should be standard for that money, but others seem more high-tech than you'd find in other vehicles. We'll start with the infotainment system.
BMW X5 infotainment
BMW's iDrive infotainment controller is standard on the X5. It operates the available navigation system and other ancillary functions, and displays on a new freestanding 10.2-inch screen. The iDrive controller now has a touchpad-style surface on its controller for text entry, Palm Pilot-style.
On the smartphone-connectivity front, BMW Apps (now with various audio-app options) are now standard, with a little help from Apple's iTunes. Connecting to the infotainment system via the iTunes-available, iPhone-based app allows drivers to hear their Facebook and Twitter feed, listen to web-based audio streams, and to tap into apps like Pandora and Stitcher. They're woven into the iDrive controller, which has a puck-shaped dial for navigation through commands and settings, and a touchpad surface for entering text Palm Pilot-style. Voice commands go deeper into the X5's audio and navigation than before: the combination of options of voice controls, dial entry or scratchpad writing, and steering-wheel controls can be overwhelming until you've spent hours upon hours at the controls.
Buyers have a choice of two premium-audio systems--Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen, the latter of which has 1,200 watts of power and 16 speakers. There's also a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with twin screens roughly the size of an iPad Mini, attached to the headrests of the front seats. Those systems always beg the question for us: why not just invest in a pair of mobile tablets and an indestructible case?
The base X5 comes with rear-wheel drive, the V-6/eight-speed drivetrain, and power windows, locks, and mirrors; AM/FM/CD player with USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; Sensatec synthetic-leather upholstery; 18-inch wheels with run-flat all-season tires; stop/start; a panoramic moonroof; power front heated seats; parking sensors; a power tailgate; and a four-year/50,000-mile warranty with roadside service and free regular maintenance.
On the slightly puzzling side, a rearview camera is a $400 option; any color other than flat white or flat black brings a $550 upcharge; and leather upholstery costs $1,400 at minimum. And if you want all-wheel drive, you'll need to step up into the X5 xDrive35i, which is priced from just over $56,000 and is equipped identically. The xDrive 35d offers similar equipment for $1,500 more in base price. These two all-wheel-drive models can be upgraded to the Dynamic Handling Package, with a rear air suspension and variable damper control, as well as active-roll stabilization.
The X5 can be ordered in one of three trim lines. Luxury Line and xLine packages bring more personalization, with coordinated interior trims that are a step more attention-getting--with Satin Aluminum and high-gloss finishes in the $2,600 xLine and a blacked-out grille chrome strips, and some sporty cues for the $1,700 Luxury Line. The $4,600 M Sport adds a body kit, Shadowline trim, high-gloss roof rails, sport seats, an anthracite headliner, and various other high-performance cues as well as an option for an M Adaptive suspension. Prices for these trim lines are slightly lower on V-8 models.
Then come the quick-pick packages: the third-row seat ($1,700); a cold-weather package with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel; a driver-assistance package with a rearview camera and a head-up display; full LED lighting package; ventilated multi-contour front seats; blind-spot monitors, surround-view cameras, and speed-limit monitors; and a premium package with keyless entry, soft-close doors, satellite radio, and leather upholstery.
Stand-alone options include active steering (except on sDrive); the active air suspension; a Nappa-leather dashboard; four-zone climate control; adaptive cruise control with full-stop and following capability (see the safety section for more); parking assist; a Harman Kardon audio system ($875) or a Bang & Olufsen setup ($4,500); night vision; and a rear-seat entertainment system. Nineteen-inch wheels with all-season tires and 20-inch wheels with summer tires are optional on all those models.
The X5 xDrive50i makes the rearview camera, metallic paints, 19-inch wheels; front ventilated seats, and leather upholstery are standard. Its above-and-beyond options include most of the above, and additionally, an executive package with ceramic knobs and switches, Harman Kardon audio, head-up display, satellite radio, keyless entry, and side window shades.