TheCarConnection.com nearly awards the 2008 BMW 5-Series a perfect 10 for a full range of innovative features, but one standard feature detracts from the luxurious package.
Standard equipment on the 5-Series includes a sunroof, power front seats, automatic climate control, iDrive, and vinyl upholstery. The 535i adds lumbar support for the front seats and xenon headlights, while the 550i gets leather upholstery and auto-dimming mirrors.
The options list is extensive. Cars.com reports "a new MP3 adapter" with which drivers can operate their players from the steering wheel (which could be a safety improvement as well). Kelley Blue Book lists Bluetooth wireless connectivity for cell phone users, as well as a 10-speaker AM/FM radio-CD player combination. Other features available include ventilated front seats and heated rear seats; active steering; a head-up display; keyless ignition; HD and satellite radio; and a night-vision system.
The one negative that most reviews agree on is the 2008 BMW 5-Series's iDrive system, which uses a single console knob to control a range of functions, such as the stereo, climate control, and so on. Car and Driver calls iDrive "a curse"; stating that it "complicates most functions," ConsumerGuide suggests that it may even constitute a safety hazard, as it "diverts the driver's attention from the road." Edmunds found it "cumbersome to use," while Kelley Blue Book, which praised its many technological gadgets, called iDrive "improving but arduous." The most damning indictment of iDrive, however, came from the New York Times: "the most illogical, ill-conceived systems controller from any car company." It’s enough to draw down the whole 5-Series driving experience.