Imagine my surprise when this luxury Sports Activity Vehicle actually draws blood. When pulling off the covers to get to the Latch connectors, a sharp plastic edge slices right into my fingertip. Thank goodness for leather seats that wipe clean easily.

Once the offender is safely removed and my finger is bandaged, the Latch connectors prove easy enough to get to. A little elbow grease and three child seats are securely wedged in; great news for the average Joes (or Janes) of the world with 2.5 children. And, eureka, the center seatbelt is positioned just right to fit a child or an adult without chaffing their neck.

With the assistance of an electronically adjustable seat back (part of a $2,500 Premium Package), my daughter's booster seat is positioned just right, so as to eliminate dreaded head-bobble in the event that she falls asleep in the car.

Also a blessing for sleeping children (besides the fact that they're quiet) are the built-in window shades. These nondescript black shades are hidden when not in use, and pull out from the door and hook at the top of the window when a bit more shade is desired.

Tied for first place with the window shades in my book of favorite features is BMW's Park Distance Control (included free of charge with my test vehicle). Not only does it monitor the rear of the vehicle for possible obstructions, but a separate tone alerts me of potential dangers in front. This makes parallel parking in tight spaces almost easy. Backing up: Beep ... Beep ... Beep ... Beep-Beep. BEEEEEP. Now forward: Deet... Deet... Deet... Deet-Deet. DEEEEEET. Yes, I'm in!

One thing that continually baffles me about the 2005 BMW X5 is the navigation system. Not only is it near impossible to navigate the navigation system, but for a total price tag topping $62,000 on my test car, you'd think I'd get navigation AND a CD player. Not so. I guess I should consider myself lucky to get a cassette player, although it's been 10 years or so since I owned a cassette tape. Do they even make those anymore?

The lovely weather we have during my two week test drive makes it difficult for me to fully experience BMW's xDrive all wheel drive system. For those of you willing to travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina, you can experience extreme driving conditions in the controlled environment of the BMW Performance Center. A $550 women's-only clinic is offered and open to all drivers, not just BMW owners.

Someone traveling to the performance center can anticipate an on-road and "other roads" course that includes driving on a skid pad to simulate black ice conditions and practicing accident avoidance with the help of a water wall. Sign me up! When can I go?

BMW also offers a $400 teen-driving clinic. When my daughters turn 16, you'd better believe we'll be flying out there. I'm sure they'll get more value out of intense, real-world driving scenarios than the bland and boring driver's ed class that I experienced as a teenager. Can you believe that my instructor actually fell asleep in the passenger's seat during my driving class? Oh, that's scary!

*For more information on the BMW X5 and its safety features visit


LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

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


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times