Transmission for the Birds - 2008 BMW X5 Long-Term Road Test
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2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5: Transmission for the Birds

September 29, 2008

X5-shifter.jpg

X5 good. X5's transmission bad.

There's a lot to like about our long-term 2008 BMW X5 4.8i, but its 6-speed automatic transmission is not one of them. And after this past weekend of head butting with the damn thing I need to vent.

The unit has three modes: D, S (Sport) and M (Manual). And they all have their deficiencies. In D it's lethargic, won't kick down without full throttle. In S it's alert, butjumpy and jerky. And in M it starts in 2nd gear.

Around town, I usually put it in S and deal with the jerkiness, but then you have to remember to put it back into D once you merge onto the highway because top gear is locked out in S. Trouble is, now the trans is back in lazy mode. So gaining any kind of passing power requires you to either floor the gas pedal to get the gear down you're looking for, or quickly pop the shifter back over into S. Usually I pop it over, which means that after the pass is made, I must remember to push the shifter back to D to get 6th gear.

Another quirk of this situation is pushing the shifter up into neutral by mistake when trying to execute a manual downshift. This is a result of you having forgot that you put the transmission back into D for highway cruising. If it were still in S, the manual gate would be active.

Got all that? Bottom line:X5 good. X5's transmission bad.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 17,250 miles

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