I think for an SUV it's pretty damn good looking. It looks clean and not too busy. I like the short overhang on the front and back. This is really subjective though so it doesn't really matter what I say. You all know what an X5 looks like.
The interior made me want to buy this more than anything else about the car. I appreciate small details like how the glove box opens by splitting in two rather than just a by pulling clunky latch. Other observations: The wheel is smaller than you'd expect, there's no visible vent for the defrost, both armrests are at the perfect height for me (underrated but important), there are tons of small, hidden cubby holes and storage spots for things large and small. The front bucket seats are the most comfortable ones I've ever sat in. Both are heated and cooled and the driver's seat also has a massager and a button that pulls the sides of the seat around your sides. They also extend and retract several inches if you want more thigh support. I could go on and on about how great the seats are but I'll stop there. It also has the large dual screen 7" monitor with Nav and the much-maligned iDrive controlled by the dial behind the electronic gearshift. I honestly don't mind iDrive...probably took me a month to master it and it's never given me problems since. Most of the things that are in the iDrive menus have corresponding buttons on the dash so unless you're using the navigation, you could go weeks without touching it. The rear seats are also heated and have dual climate controls as well. The back of the passenger seat has marks all over it from where my daughter kicks it.
There really aren't any second-rate materials to be found anywhere inside the car. No cheap plastics on panels or knobs...everything has a very soft, substantial feel.
It has the 4.8 V8 with 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. I think the quoted 0-60 time is about 6.5 which is impressive given that it weighs 5300 lbs. DAT NOISE THOUGH. So much power up and down the revs at any speed. When you mash the pedal it will pin you to your seat and roar. The only SUVs that will be quicker are of the X5M, higher Cayenne models or SRT Cherokee variety.
The brakes are more than adequate but not overwhelming. They were replaced right before I bought it so they're still pretty fresh.
My other favorite thing about the car is the ride. On the highway all you can hear with your cruise set at 75 is the soft hum of the run-flat tires and little else. For more turn-y driving there's a 'Sport' setting that actually makes a difference in how everything feels. I don't use it all that often but I did last weekend taking the back roads home from the Ozarks. That does make things a bit more jiggly though.
It's a 5300 lb SUV, not a track car. Compare it to other SUVs and that's where you'll notice a huge difference. I have driven just about every modern SUV out there and this was the 2nd best handling one...just behind the Cayenne and ahead of the CX-9. There's very little lean or body roll, especially if you're in sport mode. If you drive this and then a GMC Acadia, you'll see where the $3600 that BMW charges for the 'Sport Pkg' goes...the extra roll stabilization is really noticeable.
It's pretty average overall. It's electronic so you push forward for R and pull back for D... I've never really cared for that, I'd rather have it connected to something mechanical. Sometimes it holds gears too long if you've been doing some spirited driving in the last few minutes, and that's annoying. When you have it in sport mode it does this with every shift. When you let off it'll just wind the engine down instead of shifting up... THAT I like.
This has always been a strange yardstick in the Jalopnik review system. The sound system was the best in any car I've owned, however my one annoyance was that the iPod integration was only successful about 50% of the time. On the engine note side it gets better and more consistent. It roars when you get on it and has a nice idle as well.
Good Lord, where do I start. I mentioned the seating toys already. There's a button on the dash to raise and lower the rear hatch, settings for 'intense/normal/soft' for the blowers...SETTINGS SETTINGS SETTINGS GALORE. You can adjust everything from the angle of ascent on the hatch to whether or not you want to allow the people in the back seat to choose their own temps, to how much you want your mirrors to dim. SETTING ALL THE THINGS.
This is not the droid you're looking for. It has an unquenchable thirst for 93 octane, it depreciates like organic fruit and is expensive to repair if you're out of warranty. The only saving grace is that if you buy a CPO BMW, all maintenance is covered up to 60,000 miles and the warranty goes to 100,000. It blew a water pump 2 days before Christmas this year and it only cost me $50.