- Expanded utility
- Sharp handling
- Well-balanced steering
- Styling is same-old, same-old
- Stiff tariff for a family vehicle
- iDrive controller
features & specs
The 2008 BMW X5 is better than ever, but could use more dramatic styling and an iDrive transplant.
The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied Web reviews of the new 2008 BMW X5 to bring you this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the 2008 BMW X5 to bring you more details on its performance, styling, features, safety, and quality to help you decide which reviews to trust and to explain why other reviews of the new BMW X5 might have differing opinions.
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 6-speed automatic to send power to all four wheels. And both versions will accelerate to 60 mph in 8 seconds or less, even though they're heavy vehicles that can tow as much as 6,000 pounds.
Exterior styling hasn't changed much even with last year's improvements, and the X5 never ranked among the best-looking vehicles in its class. It's inoffensive, fairly austere inside, and fitted with an infuriating iDrive system that takes over control for the navigation, audio, and climate controls. The 2008 BMW X5 can carry 7 passengers, but the third-row seat is for kids only.
The X5's handling and ride have been improved. The automatic's quick shifts are smooth at almost any speed, and the gearbox has a Sport mode. A Sport package gives the X5 big 19-inch wheels, adaptive shocks, and run-flat tires, and it's composed at nearly any speed. If you keep leaning on it, the X5 leans right back, as its stability and all-wheel-drive systems rein in the vehicle at just the right moments.
The 2008 BMW X5 scores fairly well, earning four stars from the NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.
2008 BMW X5
While the 2008 BMW X5 is attractive for a crossover vehicle, it does not bring much new to the styling world.
Edmunds says the 2008 X5 comes in two models: 3.0si and 4.8i. With no differences to their sheetmetal, both sport "signature twin-kidney grilles," says Kelley Blue Book. MyRide.com says the X5 "looks like pretty much any other crossover." Car and Driver points out the new version is both wider and longer than the prior model. Edmunds thinks the "flanks seem less chiseled."
The similarity to other BMWs carries over into the interior. Cars.com thinks the cabin is "sleek and purposeful." MyRide.com admires the combination of "luxury and truckness." Edmunds thinks the cabin is "elegant" and appreciates its "oversized instrumentation" and details that unify the design.
2008 BMW X5
With its sporty feel and reasonable fuel economy for its class, the 2008 BMW X5 is definitely not just another stodgy SUV.
The 3.0si X5 makes 360 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, Cars.com confirms. The 4.8i gets 350 hp from a 4.8-liter V-8 as well as 350 lb-ft of torque. Edmunds hit 60 mph "in 7 seconds," while Cars.com did the same feat in 7.8 seconds (or 6.4 seconds with the 4.8-liter model). Car and Driver thinks the 3.0si is "enough for most" and calls the 8-cylinder "a bit over the top." Cars.com says these models can "tow up to 6,000 pounds."
Cars.com also notes that "both engines work through a 6-speed automatic," and while performance purists often disdain such transmissions, "shift quality is excellent", they add.
With all its fuel-saving tech, the X5 "is busy eking the most out of every drop of gas" while running hard, Car and Driver says. Edmunds says EPA gas mileage ranges from 21 mpg highway to 19 mpg highway.
Handling is a strength of the X5. Car and Driver likes its "responsive" and "natural-feeling steering" and its "taut chassis." Cars.com says it "always feels stable." MyRide.com says it will "make you think sport, not utility." Edmunds simply calls it one of the "best-handling midsize luxury SUVs."
2008 BMW X5
Comfort & Quality
The quality of the materials and roomy seating of the 2008 BMW X5 make for a richly appointed, spacious SUV.
BMW is known for comfort and quality, and the 2008 BMW X5 is no exception.
The 2008 BMW X5 comes with the standard two rows of seats providing plenty of storage capacity in the rear. Car and Driver thinks the cabin is "comfortable" but observes "third-row space is tight." Edmunds thinks that optional third-row seat is best suited for "gymnastically inclined members of the Lollipop Guild."
MyRide.com is more complimentary when comes to in-cabin storage, noting a "clever clam shell glove box" and a deep center console. Cars.com says one benefit of the new design is a longer cargo floor, "four extra inches" versus its predecessor.
Interior materials meet a high standard. Edmunds says this is one of BMW's most elegant interiors, while MyRide thinks the plastics are well-grained, or at least painted to look like aluminum. Road noise is a drawback, caused mostly by large mirrors. Consumer Guide agrees, and points out tire thrum and engine noise as other culprits.
2008 BMW X5
The 2008 BMW X5 offers a plethora of standard and optional safety features, and it scores well in crash tests.
The X5 has been crash tested and the NHTSA gives it a four-star overall rating. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick.
Outward vision is good, but the rear headrests can block the view, ConsumerGuide says. MyRide appreciates the available rearview camera, and the way the right-side mirror dips when the car is put into reverse."
2008 BMW X5
The 2008 BMW X5 has plenty of standard features, and options include the latest in high-tech gadgetry.
The 2008 BMW X5 offers plenty of features, but some need a re-think.
All models come with a 6-speed automatic, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels with run-flat all-season tires, adaptive headlights, and a panoramic sunroof. Power windows, locks, and mirrors also are standard, as are automatic climate control and a CD audio system with 12 speakers and an auxiliary port. The 4.8i adds wood and leather trim.
The iDrive system comes in for a caning by reviewers. Cars.com calls the system confounding, and warns that it's better to bypass it as often as possible via six favorite buttons.
On the options list, the X5 offers heated seats front and back, parking sensors, keyless ignition, and a two-piece glass roof. A premium package adds leather and Bluetooth. Navigation is an option and so is a 6-disc CD changer that BMW stuffs in the glove box. An 8-inch screen displays video from the available rear-seat entertainment system.