2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Gimme a (Clean) Brake!

April 08, 2008

Just finished up my first stint behind the wheel of an X5 since they were actually a novelty, just beginning to roll out of the BMW plant in South Carolina, and have to hand it to the boys from Bavaria (by way of Spartanburg) - except for the overkill on electronic accoutrements, they still do it good.

After 1,295 miles that included a fewhundred on back roads in Northern California's Russian River wine country and a run down the state's scenic Highway 1, I can report that the ride, handling, power and comfort of our long-term 2008 X5 4.8i left nothing to be desired. Even the iDrive wasn't too obnoxious once I ran through its various permutations a few times.

But (there's almost always a "but") I couldn't believe how much greasy black brake dust the 19-inch alloys collected.

Here's a picture of a clean wheel.

And one after1,200 miles.

I had to use half a can of hand cleaner to get the stuff off after checking the air pressure in all four tires.

A relative who's a longtime BMW mechanic says filthy wheels are a way of life with Bimmers. "They use hard pads and soft rotors," he tells me. In addition to making lots of dust, they also stop on a dime, but wear out rapidly. "I can't tell you how many four-wheel pad and rotor changes we do," he said.

I can't believe the people who pay $68,000 for one of these things – or a mere $55,000 without all the options -- haven't lobbied the*&!@ out of BMW to change the brake pad composition or install brake dust shields as standard equipment so they don't get their hands dirty (of course, most probably never touch the wheels, but that's another blog) and the wheels – which are designed to be seen -- stay shiny.

John O'Dell, Senior Editor @ 6,028 miles

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