The X5 has a stylish cockpit with swooping curves and two different interior palettes of coordinated colors and trim to go with the usual choices of aluminum or wood and leather. The basic seat upholstery is synthetic, and some minor switchgear looks less lovingly attended to than it should, but those blips get overlooked in favor of the rich, colorful dash-mounted screen, and the soft glow of ambient interior lighting.
The X5 can accommodate up to seven passengers, but only those in the first two rows will be comfortable.
In the front, the standard power heated seats can be upgraded to multi-contour or sport seats. There's enough adjustment and space in any direction, but like many other ventilated seats we've sampled, the X5's front buckets are flatter and less comfortable across the bottom cushion than without that feature. Between the driver and front passengers is a wide console split down the middle, good for smartphone storage, and on the console itself, there are two bins for possible keyfob storage.
Move to the second row, and the basic setup is a bench with reclining seat portions split 40/20/40, an ideal setup for anyone trying to wedge five adults in the most basic X5. Four will be happier. With the standard panoramic sunroof, there's not much headroom left for six-footers until the seat is reclined, so folding down the middle 20-percent seat as an armrest becomes a de facto standard setup. Better yet are BMW's second-row comfort seats, with finer stitching, a 10-degree recline, and a sliding feature that moves the seat along a 3.1-inch track.
Behind that second-row seat is about 23 cubic feet of space, which you can choose to fill with a fold-away third-row seat. It's as small and unwelcoming to adults as the third-row seats in a Dodge Journey, and tough for anyone to step into who is not into Garanimals. The saving grace is the seat folds away in portions, and flattens out of the way along with the second-row seat for up to 66 cubic feet of cargo space. The X5's tailgate is power-operated, and it's kept its unique tailgate/liftgate setup: the lower section drops like a pickup, the top section powers open and closed like a pricey minivan.