- Expanded utility
- Sharp handling
- Well-balanced steering
- Styling is same-old, same-old
- Stiff tariff for a family vehicle
- iDrive controller
The 2008 BMW X5 is better than ever, but could use more dramatic styling and an iDrive transplant.
The 2008 BMW X5 carries on the German automaker's sport-utility brand after receiving an extensive redo last year. The BMW X5 is now larger and more powerful than before, and it has a different face to show the world.
The base engine is a 3.0-liter, 260-horsepower six-cylinder, while the optional 4.8-liter V-8 makes 350 horsepower. Both use a six-speed automatic transmission to get power to all four wheels via standard all-wheel drive. And both versions will accelerate to 60 mph in 8 seconds or less, even though they're heavy vehicles that can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
Exterior styling hasn't changed much even with last year's improvements, and the X5 was never one of the most handsome vehicles in its class, anyway--but it is inoffensive. Inside, it's fairly austere and decked out with gadgets like the infuriating iDrive controller that operates the audio, navigation, and climate controls. The 2008 BMW X5 is also capable of transporting seven passengers, now that BMW's fitted a third-row seat to its interior, and interior room is good for all occupants now.
The X5's handling and ride have been improved. The automatic shifts with authority, but is smooth at cruising speeds and in Sport mode alike. With or without the optional Sport package (which adds 19-inch wheels, run-flat all-season tires, and BMW's AdaptiveDrive stability and automatic damping control system), anything like legal speed driving doesn't begin to challenge the X5's composure. And if you keep leaning on it, the X5 leans right back, with the all-wheel-drive and electronic stability-enhancing systems always maintaining an even keel.
The 2008 BMW X5 scores high with federal and insurance-industry crash tests, earning mostly five-star ratings, save for a four-star side-passenger impact rating and a four-star rollover rating. It earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award.