2008 BMW X5 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 BMW X5 SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
BMW X5 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 260 hp @ 6600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/21 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 BMW X5

  • In the crossover luxury SUV segment, the 2008 BMW X5 sets the standard for handling and performance. In terms of value and utility, however, many competitors are better.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Nimble handling for this type of vehicle, powerful engines, luxurious and handsome interior, huge list of available features.

  • Cons

    Some may find the ride a tad firm, munchkin-sized third-row seat, hefty price, iDrive still more hassle than it's worth.

  • What's New for 2008

    After a complete redesign last year, the BMW X5 has only minor changes to standard and optional equipment for 2008. Most noteworthy is that the sunroof is now standard, while a power tailgate option debuts.

Full 2008 BMW X5 Review

What's New for 2008

After a complete redesign last year, the BMW X5 has only minor changes to standard and optional equipment for 2008. Most noteworthy is that the sunroof is now standard, while a power tailgate option debuts.


Ten years ago, the idea of a performance SUV would have been sillier than the thought of a hit TV show featuring Wayne Newton and Marie Osmond dancing about in evening wear to Dolly Parton music. Okay, maybe not sillier, but still pretty eyebrow-raising. Yet the BMW X5 has quelled the notion that SUVs have to be sloppy-handling behemoths. Now in the second year of its second generation, the X5 has a lot more competition than it originally did, as a slew of premium automakers have followed BMW's suit with their own entries that pay more attention to "sport" than "utility."

Last year's complete redesign gave the X5 an added dose of both sport and utility. In terms of the latter, it grew in size (to distance itself from the X3), gaining more cargo capacity and enough space for a third-row seat. (Mind you, that optional folding third row is best suited for children and gymnastically inclined members of the Lollipop Guild.) The interior also can be equipped with BMW's latest selection of high-tech goodies, from optional 20-way power ventilated front seats to HD radio. Of course, the words high-tech and BMW cannot be uttered without a mention of the much-maligned iDrive electronics control interface -- yes, it's better than before, but it's time for BMW to swallow its pride and design a more intelligent system.

In terms of sport, the latest X5 boasts a completely new front suspension design for enhanced handling agility and a refined set of six- and eight-cylinder engines. As wonderfully as the first X5 drove, this second-generation one drives even better. There's more suspension compliance over bumps and harsh pavement, yet the vehicle is still quite agile and responsive when driven aggressively.

For Bimmer-philes and driving enthusiasts needing and/or wanting a midsize SUV, the 2008 BMW X5 is an obvious choice. However, the Acura MDX and Infiniti FX35 (on the lower end in terms of price) and Porsche Cayenne (on the high side) are also SUVs that will elicit plenty of grins around twisty roads. If handling isn't a priority, there are also several other crossovers in the X5's price range that offer a lot more value and utility. But if you can swing the price tag and can live with a little less space, then buying an X5 makes a whole heap more sense than watching Scary Spice rumba across a dance floor.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 BMW X5 is a midsize luxury SUV available in two trim levels: 3.0si and 4.8i. Standard equipment on the 3.0si includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, cruise control, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats with driver memory, a power tilt-telescoping steering column, vinyl "leatherette" upholstery, the iDrive electronics interface and a 12-speaker sound system with two subwoofers, CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Aside from its larger engine and the addition of leather upholstery, the 4.8i is pretty much identical.

Both trims come with a bevy of optional packages. Most X5s on dealer lots will include the Premium Package, which adds leather upholstery (3.0si), power lumbar support, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Bluetooth. The Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels, active roll stabilization, electronic dampening control, a sport steering wheel and adjustable front seat thigh support. The Technology Package adds a navigation system with real-time traffic, front and rear parking assist and a rearview camera. Other desirable options include upgraded multi-contouring power front seats with ventilation, a third-row seat, a power liftgate, BMW's active steering, keyless ignition, a rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio, HD radio, an iPod adapter and a head-up display.

Powertrains and Performance

The BMW X5 comes with either a six-cylinder or V8 engine. The 3.0si is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 260 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. The 4.8i gets, predictably, a 4.8-liter V8 good for 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. In performance testing, the X5 4.8i went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds. Fuel economy estimates for 2008 are 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway for the 3.0si, while the 4.8i returns 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.


The X5 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, brake drying and standby features, a rollover sensor, front side airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows. A rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are optional. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2008 BMW X5 its highest score of "Good" for both the frontal-offset and side impact crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The new X5's interior is one of the most elegant BMW has ever built. The dash is gently curved, with handsome wood inlays, generously sized air vents, oversized instrumentation and a truly gorgeous soft-feeling top that unifies the whole design. The only sour notes are the all-in-one iDrive controller and the optional third-row seat. Despite recent improvements, the iDrive system still annoys many drivers with its complexity, and the third-row seat is acutely lacking in spaciousness, even compared with those in other midsize crossover SUVs. Although not a deal-breaker, the electronic gear selector is also rather odd, resembling a joystick found on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. With the second- and third-row seats folded, the X5 has 75 cubic feet of cargo space available, which is about average for this class of vehicle.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 BMW X5 is simply one of the best-handling midsize luxury SUVs you can buy. Some competitors offer more utility and many are more adept off-road, but the X5 does an amazing job of taking the sensations and talents of BMW's legendary sport sedans and translating them over to the SUV world. This is particularly true when it is fitted with the optional active dampers and stabilizers. The optional active steering system does indeed ease parking maneuvers as it sharpens the steering ratio considerably at low speeds, though the downside is reduced steering feel. The X5 has an agreeable ride quality, but those looking for a Lexus-like comfy-couch ride may find this Bimmer a little harsh.

Read our BMW X5 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Great performance and reliability

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 4.8i 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)

I purchased my 2008 4.8 X5 new. I now have 75k miles and have not had any major issues. This car has been a joy to drive and very reliable. I had one issue with the adaptive headlights, but that was covered under warranty. I did not purchase an extended warranty and very happy with that decision as it would have been a waste of money. Consumer reports rates this vehicle low for reliability and my experience says they got this one wrong. Glad I did not trust their analysis.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

2008 bmw 4.8i x5 sport

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 4.8i 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)

Strangely, agree with most reviews, + and -. But overall, happy I bought it new. Power is plenty. You pay at pump - never beats 14 MPG around town, 19 MPG highway. Sometimes quirky shifts at low speeds, but never when you pay attention or hit the throttle - pure, magnificent pull. Totally trustworthy handling on most pavements of course. Never leans. "Heavier" feel than our '04 4.4i X5 Sport which I prefer - but wife likes '08 better. 20" OEM Dunlops great, but $$$ to replace every 14K. Battery tends to go low; don't leave tailgate up! Worthless rear camera & NAV. Minor oil gasket leaks, but garage floor is clean. Brakes squeal if you break too lightly, but perfect slowing & stopping.

35 of 35 people found this review helpful

Water pump fail

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)

We bought an '08 X5 6 cyl in Oct/2011 w/ a little over 48k miles, had it serviced while still under warranty, cracked air-intake boot replaced, faulty left mirror adj switch replaced, oil-gasket leak repaired & new brake pads & sensors replaced on all 4 - all warranty work. Then in Jan/2012 the elec water pump failed causing eng over-heat & the car automatically forced my wife to slow down. This, in itself to me, is quite dangerous, depending on what sort of traffic one might be in when this occurs. At the time, the car had just past 50k miles by 200 miles. We still got a free tow (under warranty) & BMW did pay for the water pump part, but not the pricy labor involved. This is our 1st BMW.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

What did bmw do to

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6A)

WOW "" I had a 2005 X5 That was the best car I ever owned But when I bought into this piece of plastic crap very poor qualiyt all the way around what did they to' what was a mastered car. I can't wait to trade back to an 05 06 no power poor sound system And a flawed I drive I have a 6 cy but the car thinks it's a v12 very poor on gas I will cost me 15 K loss But I will be back to an 05 06 . and if you have an 05 06 hang on to it my last one had over 140K And ran like new when I made my fatal mistake $ 38K Mistake

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Rocket ship

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 4.8i 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)

I purchased a CPO with just 16k on the odometer three months ago, and waited to write this review. Thus far, I fall more in love with it every day. Parked in the driveway, with the 20" wheels, it has beautiful lines and exudes raw power. Not the best in stop and start traffic, but once we hit the Pacific Coast Hwy or a twisty canyon, it attacks the road. So confident driving on the freeway, especially in Sport mode. Kids love the panoramic sunroof, and I always feel safe hauling them in the X5. Not sure what the fuss is with iDrive- I love it. Spend the time to learn and you will be amply rewarded. First BMW, and I'm sold for life (previous cars include MB, Audi, and Land Rover).

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

A beauty and a beast

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW X5 4.8i 4dr SUV AWD (4.8L 8cyl 6A)

Just purchased a very low mileage CPO. This car is very powerful yet very refined. Works well with two kids around town, but it really shines on the freeway. So smooth, so stable, even over 75 mph with twists and turns... Lower end power not as ideal as I'd hoped (it's a heavy vehicle), but once you get going it's like flying a jet fighter. Technology works great (for 2008 vintage) and iPod integration, bluetooth, and everything else is seamless. Actually love the iDrive- it's intuitive and really lets you customize the car how you want it. Just spend an hour learning it- it's well worth it. Yes, it guzzles gas, but if you buy this vehicle you know what you're getting into.

Talk About The 2008 X5

2008 BMW X5 Discussions See all Started By

2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test We lived with the 2008 BMW X5 4.8i for a year. Read all about our daily driving experiences in our long-term road test....

Any idea when BMW is going to introduce the 2008 X5's? I have been told by several dealers that there is NO info on the 2008's yet. Should I go for the 2007 BMW X5 3.0? or Should I wait for the 200...


Read more about the 2008 BMW X5

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 21
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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