KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
While the 2008 BMW 5 Series is the most technologically advanced entry in the luxo-sport sedan category, the fact that it's the only one to offer a manual transmission more accurately captures the basis of its appeal. As it's quietly grown into a living legend, the continuing success of the performance-oriented 5 Series has helped to invigorate the entire category in which it competes. The softer Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 are still sportier than ever, while the latest Infiniti M is the stiffest competition the 5 Series has faced yet – from a performance standpoint, anyway. Anchored by the 528i, 535i and 550i sedans, the lineup also includes the all-wheel-drive 528xi and 535xi sedans plus a 535xi wagon.
You'll Like This Car If...
The BMW 5 Series earned its deserved reputation as the supreme midsize sport sedan almost on driving dynamics alone. Combined with standout styling, a well-appointed cabin and some of the most sophisticated technologies available in an automobile, the 5 Series offers something for everyone.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you aren't overly swayed by the BMW badge, the bold styling or the renowned driving feel, you might find it harder to live with the driver's awkward cupholder, the improving but still arduous iDrive central control system or the significant price premium when compared to competitors like the Infiniti M.
What's New for 2008
The 5 Series gets a mid-life makeover for the 2008 model year that includes freshened front and rear styling, a revised interior, more technology and a new engine lineup highlighted by a 300-horsepower, twin-turbo powerplant. The 525i effectively becomes the 528i, while the 530i becomes the 535i.
Sandwiched between a positively turbine-like V8 and a base six-cylinder that's strong enough for more drivers than will buy it, the 5 Series' new twin-turbo six-cylinder is the bread and butter of the model's powertrain lineup. Along with virtually lag-free response, this excellent engine combines zero-to-60-mph sprints just a couple ticks slower than the V8, according to BMW, with fuel economy very close to the base engine's. Feel free to pick whichever engine you like, as there isn't a bad choice among them. Whichever powerplant you might choose, response, feel and feedback from all the systems – steering, suspension, brakes – are exceptional as expected. We especially like the sport version of the new faster-shifting automatic, which includes paddle shifters and rev matching for smooth downshifts.
Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go
The 5 Series' available radar-based cruise control will detect a slower-moving vehicle ahead and reduce speed accordingly. New for this year, the system will slow the car to a complete stop, enabling use in stop-and-go traffic.
For an even sportier sport sedan, the available "sport pack" fortifies the 5 Series with a more aggressive suspension and Active Roll Stabilization, which further minimizes body lean in corners. Other highlights include unique wheels and 20-way adjustable seats.
The 2008 BMW 5 Series' 10-way and available 20-way adjustable seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the class, excelling on twisty roads and long highways alike. Some of the more notable changes for 2008 include a revised center console with a new electronic shifter, more intuitively positioned window switches and a mostly subtle increase in overall refinement. The overall air of firm luxury remains. Rear-seat room and trunk space are on par for the segment.
The bustle-back trunk, sharp-creased edges and cat's-eye headlights that caused such a stir when the model was introduced for the 2004 model year have helped the current-generation 5 Series become the best-selling iteration yet. For 2008, the lineup gets a mild makeover that includes revised front and rear fascias, reworked headlights and taillights, plus new wheel designs.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment on a 2008 BMW 528i includes a moonroof, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, iDrive central control (with six new programmable memory buttons), 10-way power seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and no-charge maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control plus front, front-side and two-row curtain airbags. Unique to the 535ix Sport Wagon are a dual-panel panoramic sunroof and a power liftgate.
Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to a long list of modern features that have become commonplace in the category, the 5 Series lineup offers such desirable extras as Active Steering (everyday benefits include reduced steering wheel movement in parking lots), a head-up display, night vision system, lane departure warning system, active cruise control with new "Stop & Go" feature, navigation system with real-time traffic information and HD radio. The 2008 BMW 5 Series is one of the most tech-savvy vehicles on the road.
Under the Hood
The strong but silky twin-turbocharged inline six that makes its debut in the 5 Series lineup for 2008 produces 45 horsepower and 80 pound-feet of torque more than the normally aspirated engine it replaces. The base engine gets a more modest increase of 15 horsepower and 15 pound-feet, while the V8 remains essentially unchanged. A six-speed manual transmission is standard across the line, but a new quicker-shifting six-speed automatic is a no-charge option. The 535i and 550i models offer a Sport version of the automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rev-matching downshifts. The disappointing Sequential Manual Gearbox previously offered on the 550i is no longer available.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/27 (manual), 18/27 (automatic), 17/25 (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line 6
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A (manual), 17/26 (automatic), 16/24 (AWD)
360 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
360 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (manual), 15/23 (automatic)
The 2008 BMW 528i, 535i and 550i sedans start at Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of roughly $45,000, $50,000 and $59,000, respectively. Add about $2,000 for all-wheel drive (528xi and 535xi). The 535xi wagon starts at about $55,000 and a fully loaded 550i tops out around $80,000. We expect our Fair Purchase Prices to continue reflecting real-world transaction prices near MSRP. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 are priced similarly, while the Infiniti M can be a high-value alternative. As for resale value, we expect all of these vehicles to perform well, with the BMW and the Infiniti leading the way.