2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5: Our Favorite Caption

March 20, 2009

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Thanks to gooney911 for today's favorite caption.

These also gave us a good chuckle:

Dear, why'd you pack a shovel for dinner and a movie? (oldchap)
Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! (smilez)
Oldham flees to Mexico before the CHP can nail him for doing 90MPH in the Edmunds LT Smart (deagle13)
Honey, can we just stop and ask for directions?! (cruiserhead1)
I told iDrive 'no freeways' and it routed me here. (vwthing1)
Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book. (mnorm1)
I can't believe we're having to park THIS far away from the Pottery Barn. (Franchitti27)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2008 BMW X5: You Write the Caption

March 20, 2009

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Our BMW X5 got a little dusty on its way to Beverly Hills.

I suggest: "Jed Clampett 2009"

What have you got? Keep 'em clean. Get it? Keep 'em clean? Heh.

We'll post our favorite at 4:00 PM Pacific Time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Lite Brite

February 26, 2009

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A couple of you have asked how the X5's headlights perform, noting that most shoppers test drive a car during daylight hours and therefore have little or no opportunity to test a vehicle's lighting performance. Good point.

I'm as sensitive as the next guy to good nighttime lighting. Well, rest assured that the X5's lights are dazzlingly bright. Whether this annoys oncoming drivers I cannot say. I certainly have not had anyone flash their high-beams at me. That was a common occurrence when high-intensity discharge lamps were first arriving on the market.

As you'd probably suspect, the X5's lights are automatic, self-leveling HIDs. They're standard on all X5s, even the six-cylinder models. They're bright enough in the low setting that I rarely need to use the high-beams which scorch the surrounding shrubbery with lumens. The only optional part of the headlight system as fitted to our tester is the retractable headlight-cleaning system which comes as part of the $900 Cold Weather Package and also includes heated front seats, the much-loved heated steering wheel and ski bag.

So if you're worried about X5 headlight performance, don't.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,342 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Let's play a guessing game

February 25, 2009

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Pictured is dash of our Long Term 2008 BMW X5 just before a much needed fuel up. (Yes, I run the tank low. It's okay if you don't. I think it's fun.) How many miles are on the trip odometer?

FYI: The 08 X5 has a 22.5 gallon fuel tankand gets an epa rating of 14 city/ 19 highway,16 combined.

Winner gets absolutely nothing. Bonus nothings for guessing how many gallons of the good stuff this fill required.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Steering the Steer

February 25, 2009

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Somehow we've managed to go through almost a year in a BMW without really ever talking much about the steering system. Compared to almost any steering system in anything with a remote resemblance to a sport-utility vehicle, the X5's is fantastic.

If that seems like damning with faint praise, it wasn't meant to. But neither is the X5's system entirely faultless. It's nearly perfect on the expressway when a little heft and a relatively slow ratio off-center result in a steady, composed demeanor -- exactly what you want for high-speed runs.

Around town, though, that weight seems unnecessary and unwelcome. Now, we're not talking heavy like the old days of non-assisted steering here. But it will come as a surprise to the uninitiated. And, as on most crossover/SUV things the ratio isn't particularly quick, even though the standard X5 system uses a variable-ratio rack that quickens the response the farther from center you guide it. But the weight combined with the relatively slow ratio and the X5's bulk can still mean a whole lot of work in parking situation.

If there's one vehicle in BMW's lineup that could genuinely benefit from the company's Active Steering system, it's the X5. At speeds up to 55 mph Active Handling uses a quick ratio that results in only two turns lock-to-lock -- giving the driver more turning response for a given input. At higher speeds the system uses a slower ratio to maintain stability. We don't really care for the system on the nimble 3-series.

But if you're in the market for an X5 we would say you should test drive one with Active Handling and one without. It is a stand-alone option which cost $1,400 for the 2008 model like ours. It's since gone up to $1,550.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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2008 BMW X5: Open Thread

February 25, 2009

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By now you've probably noticed that we're featuring the BMW X5 this week.

Now it's your turn. Tell us what you want to talk about on the BMW X5.

Who will be first to post?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Great No-Compromise

February 24, 2009

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There was some gnashing of teeth 'round the home office when we were ordering our long-term X5. This is because once you see a sport-package X5 fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels and fat, high-performance treads, you can't get it out of your head. It just looks so good.

That's the X5 I want to drive. It's just not the one I want to live with. You see, there's this frozen precipitation that falls from the sky and accumulates on everything where I live. You know how fun that stuff is on summer rubber? None.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Park?! Are you kidding me?!

February 24, 2009

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(Photo by Kurt Niebuhr)

Remember a few weeks ago, the post I did about shift patterns as mandated by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 102 (FMVSS102)? Of course you do. A page-turner like that? How could you forget. Well I went ahead and re-read that section and saw nothing in it about forcing the car into park if the vehicle is in motion and the driver door is opened. Why would I look up something silly like that? Glad you asked.

Open the door on the 2008 BMW X5 when the car is in drive and the transmission slams itself into park. PARK! WHILE MOVING! It's upsetting and confusing when this happens at a 2mph roll as the X5 is being used to collect orange cones murdered during slalom testing. It's scary and just plain wrong when it goes into park-- instead of, say, neutral-- at 11mph as we try to test the limits of just where this boat will stop trying to kill itself. The X5 will also throw itself into park from reverse at similarly low speeds. So much for peeking out the door to avoid that big curb.

Further proof this SUV needs a manual transmission. The Cayenne offers one.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2008 BMW X5: Solid at One Hundred and Forty Something MPH

February 24, 2009

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Professional driver. Closed course. Hey you stupid, don't try this at home.

Fourthings. One: The X5 is dead stable at these speeds, although there is a fair amount of wind noise. Two: No Tahoe or Flex or Enclave or SRX or Durango can approach a buck fifty, so there's still something special about the X5 and other performance minded German utes like the Cayenne. Although I'm sure a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 could swing it. Three: It was a steep downhill. Four: With my foot to the floor, the computer said mileage at this velocity was 7 mpg.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Button Never Pushed

February 23, 2009

Contention: A Hill Descent Control system on the strip-mall off-roader X5 is like having a tow/haul mode for the automatic transmission in the Miata.

Look, I know that it doesn't really cost BMW anything for the lines of computer code that applies the brakes automatically and frequently enough to keep this beast crawling down inclines. Seems like the one good thing BMW might have gotten out of its unfortunate and costly days owning Land Rover.

But, come on. I'd bet less than 10 percent of X5 owners even know what that button is for much less that they can vary the vehicle's target speed between 4 and 15 mph using the button.

Dan Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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