The 2008 BMW 5-Series performed poorly in side-impact crash tests and in driver-side front impact tests—remarkably so for such an expensive vehicle, leading to its very low safety score.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the BMW 5-Series only three stars for driver front-impact protection—a result so surprising, it was widely reported in the non-automotive press. Passengers have five-star protection, and all seats have five-star crash protection as judged by the federal agency.
However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports nearly the obverse: for front impacts, it awards the 5-Series a “good” rating, and with side impacts calls it “marginal,” the second-lowest rating.
Edmunds says the 5-Series’s standard safety equipment includes “stability control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and front-and-rear side-curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional and, due to safety concerns, you must specifically request that your dealer activate the bags if you order this option.”
ForbesAutos notes two safety options among the 5-Series’s features. “A smarter radar cruise control that can slow as well as now speed up the car when traffic bunches and then clears up” is the first; the second is “a lane-departure warning system that, instead of emitting beeps, vibrates the steering wheel to help keep the driver focused.”
Edmunds also notes that the all-wheel-drive 5-Series comes with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.