INTERIOR

The X5's interior lives up to luxury standards; it's not flashy, but the quality materials used inside and the attention to detail tell you it's no ordinary vehicle. My test car had upgrades like a panoramic moonroof, heated leather seats, a rear entertainment system and wood trim (instead of fake wood that never fools anyone). It may be fancy, but the five-seater's interior is durable and ready for anything a family may hurl at it.

A family of four would be most comfortable in the X5, but just in case your brood is a bit larger, the second row can seat three. There's also an optional third row that ups seating to seven. My test car didn't have the third row, making the cargo area spacious. On a weekend jaunt to California's Central Valley, we managed to fit a portable crib, a stroller, overnight bags and all the other random baby gear schlepped around for those "just in case" moments, and there was still room to spare in the cargo area.

There just aren't many opportunities for complaints from the family when legroom isn't skimpy, no passenger is shorted a cupholder, and all the usual storage bins appear in all of the expected places. An unexpected surprise was the sunshades built into the rear passenger windows. No glaring sun in my baby's eyes means a smoother day of errands for me.

I found the biggest triumph to be the X5's tech features that functioned smoothly and performed without frustration. BMW's multimedia system, iDrive, is easy to use, and everything is controlled with a knob in the center stack. While some systems set up this way can be cumbersome and irritating, iDrive works like a charm.

Clean, modern displays gave me any information I could possibly need while driving around town, and if I needed more, I could use the BMW Connected application on my smartphone to get the X5's fuel level, range or even stream my favorite radio station. What really made my jaw drop — not in a good way — was that the app could also stream my Facebook friends' status updates and Twitter feeds on the X5's multimedia screen. No matter how strong my social-networking addictions may be, this is not the best or safest example to be setting while the kids are riding along with you. It's not even a good idea when driving alone.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

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