Car Advice

2019 BMW X5 Infotainment Review

The 2019 BMW X5 debuts the German car maker’s latest infotainment system and we take a quick look at it. Here’s our 2019 BMW X5 Infotainment Review.

The all-new 2019 BMW X5 debuts the brand’s latest-generation Operating System, called 7.0 and combines it with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional system which is a 12.3-inch centre touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital display in place of analogue dials. The thinking is that one flows into the other, from a design point of view, and that’s largely the case with just a thin divider separating the two screens.

The system can be controlled in several different ways, either via the rotary iDrive controller on the centre console, the touchscreen, steering wheel, voice control (although I found this sometimes took several goes to get right) and even gesture control – you can even teach it to respond to your own hand gestures.

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But that’s not to say it’s easy to get your head around, at least not the deeper functionality, although BMW claims this latest operating system is simpler with a shallower menu structure than before. And while the menu structure does indeed seem a little flatter when compared with this system’s predecessor (Practical Motoring is testing an X4 this week with the older system) it’ll still take some time to learn. And that’s mainly because of the many ways you can work your way around the system.

The rotary iDrive controller is still there but it’s better than ever and while some find it frustrating, when it’s gone, as Audi has done, navigating the infotainment is a little trickier. And there are now better shortcut keys, including a Home button, to make deep diving a little easier and quicker when stationary. On the move, it’s easier to use voice control, gesture control (especially for music) or the touchscreen.

The infotainment system is also, always live, meaning it’s constantly connected and able to update over the air like your smartphone and can update all sorts of things in real time, like the weather, email and navigation. The car can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot too.

But if all this is giving you a headache, don’t panic because BMW also offers Apple CarPlay which allows you to keep you level of interface with the car very simple. BMW used to charge for Carplay but this is now a free inclusion.

If you’ve got an Android phone then bad luck; BMW doesn’t offer Android Auto connectivity. Delve into the offered apps on BMW Australia’s website and you’ll see you can be a guinea pig and test out things like, Microsoft 365 connectivity for $1 for one month, potentially making the X5 the ultimate hot desk…

The gesture control for things like music via Apple CarPlay is cool but you need to get your hand in just the right position for it to register; there were numerous times where it looked like I was hitchhiking when all I was trying to do was skip to the next song. More than this, the system seems to encourage gesture control over anything else because, if you try to skip a track via, say, the steering wheel the whole screen will go dark and the ‘gesture control’ symbol show up on the screen. I found this frustrating.

Then there’s the behind-the-wheel instrument cluster which now divides the display leaving room for a part-view of the navigation map, although oddly while it’ll tell you the road you’re on at the time it doesn’t display the names of side roads as you pass by them. The main system on the infotainment screen will, of course, and when following the navigation, directions are projected via the head-up display. But, while the native mapping system is good, we found it’s no match for Google Maps which is able to update quicker and will reroute you to an easier and often faster route.

The standard sound system is a 10-speaker system but our test car featured the mid-spec 464W harmon / kardon 16 speaker system which is excellent with good clean sound but you can go further and add a Bowers & Wilkins system with 24 speakers and a 1500-watt amplifier.

In all, the X5’s infotainment system is easily one of the most feature-rich and impressive infotainment system in any vehicle on sale today but it’s not simple, so be prepared to put in the hard yards to learn its ins and outs.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.