By KBB.com Editors
When BMW introduced its first "crossover" SUV (CUV) in 2000, its marketers called it "SAV" for "Sports Activity Vehicle." The point was to separate it from other sport utilities of the time and position it as a BMW-appropriate blend of performance and handling with practicality, versatility and all-weather capability. For the most part, it worked, for both the positioning and the vehicle. The original X5 was not the roomiest or most practical of SUVs, but piloting it down a twisty two-lane ribbon of road was a revelation. It drove like a taller version of the 5 Series sedan, which, in many ways, it was. This new version is all of that, and roomier, besides.You'll Like This Car If... You May Not Like This Car If...
Because the X5 is substantially more expensive than competitors with similar capabilities, and its ride and handling balance is biased toward firmer road handling, you may be happier with something softer-riding and more affordable.What's New for 2008
The 2008 BMW X5 receives more standard equipment, including a power sliding panoramic sunroof.Driving It Driving Impressions
Despite its new-found size, weight and optional third-row seats, the 2008 X5 remains one of the few largish sport utilities that can be fun to drive for serious drivers. This is due to its sophisticated suspension (double-pivot front and multi-link rear), H-rated all-season tires, variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering and powerful four-wheel disc brakes. We're not fans of BMW's electronic shifter or iDrive multifunction controller, but, once underway, the X5 goes, stops, steers and holds the road like a luxury sport sedan. BMW's ultra-responsive Active Steering and larger wheels and tires, up to a 20-inch performance set, are available on the 4.8i with Sport Package.Favorite Features
xDrive Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
With limited ground clearance and all-season tires, the X5 has few off-road aspirations but one of the best all-weather all-wheel-drive systems, which electronically varies front-to-rear torque and traction control to optimize grip.
Xenon Adaptive Headlamps
These are auto-leveled and steered in response to steering angle, vehicle speed and turning rate to light more of the road through curves and dips, and all four are encircled by luminous rings that serve as parking and (if desired) daytime running lights.
The X5's beautifully crafted interior has good leg and shoulder room with fold-flat second-row seats and a generous cargo capacity. The glovebox has unique upper and lower electrically powered doors that lock and unlock with the central locking system. A multi-function keyless remote and a start/stop button replace the conventional ignition switch and key, while a console switch for the electromechanical parking brake replaces the traditional lever. Fans of BMW's electronic shifter and iDrive multi-system controller will be pleased that the X5 has them for the first time. The three-spoke steering wheel has multi-function controls, including enhanced dynamic cruise control and two programmable switches.Exterior
The 2008 X5 morphs BMW's current crease-sided design language into a tall wagon shape larger in all dimensions than the original model yet not much different in appearance. The signature twin-kidney grilles are prominent between a sculpted power-dome hood and a black lower fascia with large intakes for radiator and brake cooling air. Clear lenses cover quad round headlamps encircled by luminous rings that double as parking lamps and daytime running lamps. The outboard fog lamps also serve as cornering lamps. In back, a functional roof spoiler houses the high-mounted brake lamp, and large oval dual exhausts are imbedded in the black lower fascia.Notable Standard Equipment
The X5's generous allotment of standard features includes six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, xDrive full-time all-wheel drive, all-season run-flat tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon adaptive auto-leveling headlamps with automatic control, panoramic sunroof, power tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, dynamic cruise control, 10-way power front seats with memory, leatherette upholstery, remote operating one-touch power windows, dual-zone automatic climate control and AM/FM/CD/MP3 12-speaker audio with auxiliary input. The V8-powered 4.8i model features numerous additional items, including leather and a choice of wood trims. Standard safety equipment includes Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, trailer stabilization, rollover protection system and two-stage front, front seat-mounted side and front and rear head-curtain airbags. Both versions of the X5 get BMW Ultimate Service, which includes roadside assistance and all recommended maintenance for four years/50,000 miles.Notable Optional Equipment
Many X5 options are grouped into packages, including an Active Ventilated Seat Package with 20-way adjustable multi-contour front seats, a Premium Sound Package, a Rear Climate Package with four-zone climate control and privacy glass, a Cold Weather Package, a Sport Package (19-inch wheels, sport seats, electronic damping control), a Technology Package (Park Distance Control, rearview camera and navigation system with Voice Command and Real Time Traffic information) and a Premium Package with power-folding outside mirrors, BMW Assist with automatic collision notification and (on the 3.0si) wood and leather interior trim. The long list of stand-alone options includes Active Steering, third-row seat, power tailgate, Head-up Display, HD radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, rear-seat entertainment system, Nevada or Nappa leather, 20-way adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, Park Distance Control, the navigation system, performance tires and 20-inch wheels (4.8i only) and BMW Assist.Under the Hood
The 2008 X5 is available in 3.0si and 4.8i models, the former powered by a 260-horsepower double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 24-valve 3.0-liter magnesium/aluminum in-line six, the latter by a 350-horsepower DOHC 32-valve 4.8-liter aluminum V8. Both feature BMW's exclusive Valvetronic electronic valve actuation and Double VANOS variable valve timing, which contribute to better-than-expected fuel efficiency for such performance-oriented vehicles.
3.0-liter in-line 6
260 horsepower at 6600 rpm
225 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21
350 horsepower at 6300 rpm
350 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400-3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19
The 2008 BMW X5 3.0si has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $46,500 and is selling at about that level. That's more than the competing Mercedes-Benz ML350 and Audi Q7 and significantly more than the starting MSRP of the Acura MDX, all of which transact at or near their MSRPs. The 4.8i is around $55,000, roughly $20,000 less than the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz GL550, $4,000 less than the Audi Q7 4.2 but nearly $10,000 more than the V8-powered Cadillac SRX. The X5's projected five-year residual value bests the Mercedes-Benz ML and matches the larger GL550, Audi Q7 and Acura MDX. Before buying, be sure to check Fair Purchase Prices to see what X5s are selling for in your area.