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: And the winner is....

February 26, 2009

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...Quando with a guess of 243 miles!

Context clues, people! In the image posted you can see I'm in DS-- drive sport--that can't be good for economy. Also to consider: I live in the city and never once for these 230 hit a freeway or even an uncongested street (but you couldn't have knownthat).

Closest estimate for gallons:kurtamaxxxguy who guessed 20.5.Our 2008 X5 took 20.429.

(And to those who asked: It's an old picture. The X5 is in Detroit but in honor of Car of the Week, I pulled some things from my library.)

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant and unofficial Inside Line quizmaster

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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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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Manual Control of the Automatic Climate Control

February 22, 2009

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I'm a set-it-and-forget-it guy. I leave the automatic climate control system at somewhere between 69 and 72 degrees on any car I drive and leave it. Cranking it to 85 degrees doesn't make an 18 degree morning tolerable any quicker than setting it at 72.

Which is why, years ago when I first encountered BMW's manual intensity settings for its automatic climate control system, I thought it was a gimmick. Just another layer of complexity in the brands increasingly complicated control systems.

Briefly the system works like this: You set your temperature as normal. Successive pokes at the AUTO button will change the intensity of the climate control operation, including the fan. So you want some hot air blowing on you? Crank it to Intensive. Want to hear a quiet piece of music without cranking the audio system to compete with fan noise, punch up Soft. You can also adjust it through iDrive, of course. But that's a minimum four-step process.

Look, sometimes you want 72 and sometimes you want 72, if you know what I mean. Could I just manually adjust the fan and get much of the same benefit. Yes, but why should I. I drive a $70,000 BMW.

Dan Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,310 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Early, Early, Early Warning System

February 18, 2009

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Look, I like to plan for the future as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy doesn't really like to plan for the future. But I just got a warning from the BMW X5 long-termer that it would like an oil change.

Well, it would like an oil change in 1,800 miles anyway. Now, it's true that our long-term X5 has accumulated miles at an average of more than 2,000 per month, but our vehicle is a little unusual in this regard. It would take the average driver about a month-and-a-half or more to rack up that number of miles. And every time that average driver started up his X5 he would get the yellow warning and alert-dong notifying him of a service that's not required for many weeks.

But okay, better early than late, right? So we've got an appointment to get new goo and filter tomorrow and the service department of our local dealer promises it will cost us nothing, despite being early.

Curiously, the driver-information center between the gauges says we're looking at a time deadline of October, 2009 to get the service done. Stranger still, the Service Requirements portion of iDrive estimates a date of July, 2010. We can only assume this is referring to something else but we can't figure out what exactly that might be.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: iDrive My Wife Crazy

February 17, 2009

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Of all the dubious achievements credited to BMW's iDrive, I do not remember Destroyer of Marital Bliss being on the list.

Here though are snippets of a couple of telephone conversations I had with my long-suffering wife recently. The set up is that I've taken her car to the office to check the brakes. She's driving around in the X5 for the day.

[ring, ring]
Me: Hey.
Wife: Your daughter wants to listen to "Little Ghost."
Me: Okay, it's on the iPod.
Wife: Yeah, how do I do this?
Me: Um, well. Okay. Hit the big MENU button. Okay, now push the big knob in the direction of "Entertainment."
Wife: Okay. Now what?
Me: You've got to find the AUX setting. It's in one of those menu bars along the top. I don't know which one.
Wife: [sighing, fumbling]
Me: It's White Stripes.
Wife: I know that.
[an inordinate amount of time passes]
Wife: Is it the album "Get Behind Me Satan?"
Me: Yeah, you're in! Just push down on the knob and then rotate until the song title is highlighted, then push the button.
Wife: Okay. Thanks.

See, I thought, iDrive isn't that difficult to operate. If I can act as the help line for it, how bad could it be?

[ring, ring]
Me: Hey, honey.
Wife: How do I get this stupid navigation lady to shut up? She's talking over the song.
Me: Uh, navigation? Aren't you just going to the grocery store?
Wife: Yeah, [background: "Make a U-turn if possible"] Uhg! Stupid thing!
[click]

It was then that I realized that I essentially re-learn many aspects of iDrive's operations each and every time I drive the vehicle. Or rather, I take stabs at what seems like the right moves until I've failed to get what I want so frequently that only the right answer is left.

Then I recalled it took both Executive Lead Senior Super Editor Ed Hellwig and myself 15 minutes and the owner's manual just to find Chicago's McCormick convention center one morning on our way to cover the auto show.

The time has come, BMW. I can defend you no longer. It is time for Gen II iDrive to make its way through the lineup. --Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Sweet Hotel Chicago

February 13, 2009

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Despite the widespread availability of airplane flights between Detroit and Chicago on which I could fly to the Chicago Auto Show, I make an annual habit of tempting the weather gods and hitting I-94 for a little bonding time with whatever I car I happen to be driving in early February.

Save for the year that I took a V-12-powered BMW 7-series, this year's mount, the long-term X5, was the finest road companion yet. The X5's high-speed stability is spectacular -- almost as if it was designed by engineers used to driving on unlimited Autobahns. The driving position is excellent. The seats provide good thigh support, something many manufacturers neglect. And the iPod integration is easy to operate. So that's one iDrive-based feature that's not infuriating to use.

The trip takes four hours on the dot each way and is roughly 600 miles, total. So we averaged somewhere in the mid 70-mph range. The X5 returned 17.6 mpg in all highway driving (with a few assorted full-throttle, on-ramp accelerations thrown in). It's not the most efficient way to travel, particularly for one guy and one bag, but it surely is a satisfying way to. It is greatly preferable to riding on an air bus. -- Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,201 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Spacey Dong Chime Edition

February 06, 2009

Inspired by High Chief Oldham's genre-defining video performance detailing the annoying chimes of the Ford Flex, I have made my own short-feature movie of the BMW X5's start-up/warning chime.

But it's not a chime. It's more of a dong, really. A dong with a slinky, wavering fade-out. This same sound has been slowly making its way into all BMWs, since it appeared in the too-weird-for-prime-time 7-series years ago.

Anyway, it brings me a sort of spaced-out peace. Listen to it in the hastily shot video above. Then I finally realized why it fills me with a child-like wonder each and every time: It is almost exactly how my head remembers the sound of The Jetsons' doorbell.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Brawny Lad

January 30, 2009

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I am moved by muscle cars. I can appreciate a big, ol' luxury boat. And I even like the occasional drive in a pick-up truck. But, honestly, I'm most comfortable and generally happiest in a relatively small, relatively lightweight car. This makes my growing affection for the decidedly beefy BMW X5 4.8i something unusual.

Everything about this vehicle is brawny, thick, heavy or solid, including its heavy-duty as-tested price of $68,520. And at more than 5,000 pounds of solid German/American goodness, the perception of high weight is reality. But it's almost shocking how easily the X5's V8 moves this two-and-a-half tons. Surely, the engine must be underrated at 350 hp. And somehow, even without the sport package, the X5 is nearer to being nimble than anything this big has right to be.

I don't need all this size. I certainly don't need to sit up as high as I do in the X5's driver's seat. But damn if I don't like it. The only real downside, assuming you have the means to make the monthly payments, is the big fuel tab. Since it's arrival in Detroit less than a month ago, the X5 has averaged 14.2 mpg. With the X5, you get size and you get speed, but you can't have everything.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Screwed!

January 26, 2009

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Remember when we wrote that the long-term X5's right rear tire was down 10 pounds of air pressure? This would have been moments after Editor in Chief Oldham arrived in Detroit after two-thousand-and-whatever miles. Right, well, turns out somewhere along the way (my guess, for no good reason, is Indiana), the X5's right-rear picked up a self-tapping screw that had self-tapped itself right in between the tread blocks of the big Michelin.

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2008 BMW X5: Day Three: Des Moines, IA to Detroit

January 23, 2009

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On day three, from the heart of Iowa to Motown, I covered all 600 miles in a snowstorm. At some points, vision was down to a few car lengths and the interstate was pure white, especially in Michigan, where they seemed to have parked the plows. Damnbudget cuts.

Several times traffic slowed to a crawl. And very often I was cruising with the X5's six-speed transmission in 4th or 5th gear so I would be able to use engine braking and not just the brakes, should I need to slow or stop. I also counted 18 cars and trucks off in the ditch, ranging from four-wheel-drive pickups to Peterbilts and one lone Porsche. And one time, deep in Michigan, a guy in an almost new Jag S-Type spun right in front of me. Miraculously he didn't hit anything, but I'm sure he had to change his panties.

Despite such contitions, I averaged 60.5 mph and 17.1 mpg. I also arrived at my hotel feeling like I could go another 400 miles. I was wired. Six-hundred miles in a snowstorm really forces you to be alert. I didn't even blink east of Chicago. I wolfed down a beer and a burger before my adrenaline simmered down.

This was a great trip in a great truck. If you haven't road-tripped in a while, get out there. And don't wimp out and take the southern route.

There are more day-three highlights and photos on the next page, and forgive me for all the behind-the-wheel shots; it was cold out there.

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2008 BMW X5: Day Two: Grand Junction, CO to Des Moines, IA

January 22, 2009

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Day Two of the Great X5 Santa Monica-to-Detroit Road Trip started with the white stuff. I awoke at the Grand Junction Holiday Inn Express to find the BMW X5 covered in a dusting of snow. Nothing severe, but enough had stuck to the roads that I quickly appreciated the X5's all-wheel drive and state-of-the-art electronic stability control system. The truck's seat heater, steering wheel heater, strong wipers and fast-acting defrosters had me on the road quickly. Remember, the X5 may be built in South Carolina, but BMW HQ is in Bavaria, and it snows quite a bit in that part of the world.

More day two highlights on the next page.

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2008 BMW X5: Day 1: Santa Monica, CA to Grand Junction, CO

January 21, 2009

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Some called it a stupid idea, including my wife, but my drive from Santa Monica to Detroit in our long-term BMW X5 was a blast, and a hard and fast education into the good, bad and ugly of BMW's big SUV. I spent three days essentially locked behind the wheel of the X5, only stopping for gas, bladder relief and the occasional photo.

Most of you know all of thisbecause you followed my progress as it happened on the insideline.com twitter page, but for those of you who missed it, here are the highlights and photographic evidence of day one.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The Soiled Pants Edition

January 20, 2009

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There are many things to like about the X5 such as its exterior design, size and handling. There are a couple of things to love about the X5 such as its stonking V8 power. And there is at least one thing to hate about the X5: Its standard pant-dirtying rocker panels.

For whatever reason, BMW grafted onto the SAV's rockers a gray plastic shelf that is exceptionally good at collecting dirt, slush and mud and then delivering them to your left pant-leg as you try to exit the vehicle. In this way, the X5 is the anti-Ford Flex, which not only doesn't force you to leap out of the vehicle but keeps any potential contact area clean.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Toasted Buns

January 16, 2009

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Turns out, the boys (and girls) from California left Detroit just in time. A deep freeze has settled into the Upper Midwest. I hopped in my new winter-approved long-termer, the X5, this morning to find that the temperature read-out registering -4. That's not on any kind of wimpy Celsius scale. No, no, it's the big F, my frigid friend.

So you'll excuse me if I don't really care at the moment about ride or build quality or acceleration or any operational aspect of the X5, other than those involved with creating and disseminating heat. And that brings me to the BMW's seat heaters, which are simply magnificent. I have long held that if I can't make myself uncomfortably hot with seat heaters then they are just not powerful enough. I want the extra margin of heat on top of what is comfortable just, you know, just in case. And the three-step BMW units will absolutely toast your buns. And it is mornings like this one that convince me that a heated steering wheel is not a frivolous thing, but indeed, a near-necessity. You activate that separate from the seat heat, by pressing the spoke-mounted button with a pictogram of what looks like a steering wheel with an exceptionally hairy hub.

Hell, I would advocate the implementation of some sort of electro-shall with detachable ear muffs and maybe some plug-in leggings with booties. Although I would settle for a heated tunnel between my back door and the office.

--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 25,037 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Colorado and Counting

January 09, 2009

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Ok, fine, that picture wasn't taken in Colorado (Wrightwood, Ca if you must know) but that's where our 2008 BMW X5, piloted by Inside Line Editor-in-Chief Scott Oldham, is right now. While I didn't get an exact location from him, Eastern Colorado was mentioned and that leaves an estimated 1,200 miles to Detroit and his reunion with the Cadillac CTS. Oh, and there's some Auto Show there, too.

While I can't call for an actual convoy on this trip, follow him digitally via Twitter on both this trip and his return from the Motor City in Cadillac's finest.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 23,681 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Sure, I'll Drive it From L.A. to Detroit

January 06, 2009

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After weeks of indecision (there are about two dozen cars to choose from) I've decided to drive our long-term 2008 BMW X5 from L.A. to Detroit. It'll be good test of the truck's cross country and winter driving abilities. Plus it has nav, satellite and all that good stuff. All season tires too.

Should I make it to Detroit alive, I'll leave the BMW with Dan Pund, our Detroit Editor, and drive our long-term Cadillac CTS back to California. Regulars on this page will remember that Dan drove the Caddy from L.A. to Detroit about a month ago.

I'll blog from the road if I can, but fatique and the Detroit Auto Show might get in the way of that. Chances are I'll catch up on the posting when I return.

I will Tweet, however. That I can promise you. So if you care to tag along,go to the insideline.com Twitter page and follow my trip. I'll try to make it interesting.

I hit the road early Thursday morning.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2008 BMW X5: Nothing in Particular

November 13, 2008

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I don't have much new to add about our 2008 BMW X5--I just liked this photo. It shows the BMW in what is arguably its natural environment, Newport Beach, California.

Never seen this part of the OC (don't call it that)before?We'reparked just off the side of Back Bay Drive, a one-way road/two-way bike & jogging path that runs along the eastern flank of the tidal marsh known simply as the Back Bay.

The BMW's large panoramic sunroof, which I usually have no use for,allowed the girls to stand with binocularsand look at the wildlife along the route. What they didn't notice is that the work of some of Newport Beach's finest plastic surgeons was simultaneously on display on the jogging path.

Near the northern end of Back Bay Drive you'll find a humungous Mercedes dealership which reportedly sells more AMG's than any other singleBenz storein the world, Germany included.

All in all, it's a worthwhile side trip when you're in the neighborhood.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,150 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Comfort Opening Disclosure

November 11, 2008

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You're seeing the same view of the long-term 2008 BMW X5 thatI saw yesterday morning. I came out groggy-eyed to get the morning paper, and there she sat in my driveway with all four windows fully down and the sunroof partway open.

Large blobs of dew were pooledon the hood and roof, but the interior seemed dry enough. And none of my neighbor's many cats were curled up inside, so no damage done.

A quick read of the manual reveals that this is in fact a feature called "comfort opening". If one presses and holds the unlck button on the remote for more than 2 seconds, all of the windows start coming down in unison. A 5 second hold lowers them all the way, like this.

The remote must have gotten pinched in my pocket when I sat down in the house sometime last night. It's happened before with panic alarm buttons.

When I lived in Phoenix I would have killed for a way to remotely roll down the windows before I sat down inwhat amounted to an oven. But knowing thatmy car could sit unlockedand wide open all night without my knowledge isn'tnearly asconvenient.

Further manual-reading shows that this feature isn't one that can be customized or shut-offvia the extensive iDrive menus. It should be.

On the plus side, if one touches and holds the top of the door handle for 5 seconds, the windows will all roll up and the sunroof will close after the doors lock. Now that I can use.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,125 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Carwash Defeats Wiper

November 10, 2008

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It's the automotive equivalent of Rock-Paper-Scissors, and it goes like this: Wiper defeats Rain, Rain defeats Carwash and, as we recentlyconfirmed with our 2008 BMW X5, Carwash defeats Wiper.

So we picked up what pieces we could find to see if we could humpty-dumpty the thing back together again.

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2008 BMW X5: Monster In the Box

November 07, 2008

This morning I woke up especially early for no particular reason so I decided I to just go to work. I hate time change, it's like jet lag while staying home.

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I don't know if it was due to the X5's massive engine or that people weren't caffeinated just yet, but I every time I punched the gas from a traffic light I left my fellow commuters in my dust trail by massive margins.

The X5 is nice to your ego.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2008 BMW X5: Airport Run

October 30, 2008

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There's no worse request than a friend asking for a ride to or from the airport. The traffic, jockeying your way to the curb, trying not to make eye contact with the airport cops who are yelling at you to move along, the whole process really blows.

But last night I decided to surprise a friend who was arriving at LAX, and the BMW X5 was my willing accomplice.

Any car that can persuade me to go to the airport of my own volition must be fun to drive.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 19,123 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Fulton's Folly

October 28, 2008

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I just spent about a week in the X5. I like it, the transmission is too jerky (first is too short)but otherwise it's a comfortable SUV.

On a three hour road trip, I noticed there are too many levers - short levers, long levers, levers with, with switches ontop of the levers - I felt like an antebellum riverboat captain bleeding off steam as I adjust the steering wheel, set the cruise control and check the outside temperature. Maybe GM's cruise/turn/high beam stalk isn't so bad after all. Anyone think I'm full of it?

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Smells Like Donuts

October 27, 2008

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I've driven our long-term 2008 BMW X5 twice in the past three months. On both occasionsI was pulled over by Johnny Law.

I gotta stop driving this thing.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 18,841 miles.

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2008 BMW X5: Sport Activity Vehicle

October 20, 2008

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I just saw a dark blue X5 and it looked really sharp. There's something about the dark color that hides the black plastic bumpers. Our Long Termer looks kinda cheap because of the black bumpers that contrast with the light colored paint. I know it's supposed to be rugged and all as BMW calls it a Sport ACTIVITY Vehicle as opposed to a regular SUV but I'd rather have body colored bumpers - the chance of me taking this thing off-road is very slim.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor @ 18,124 miles.

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2008 BMW X5: Transmission for the Birds

September 29, 2008

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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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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Night Out on the Town

September 25, 2008

Altruism. Not a word that is normally associated with me. As a native Los Angeleno, I'm quite content being self-serving and self-involved. Imagine my surprise when I volunteered to be a designated driver for a group of friends. Granted, these friends were exceptionally attractive members of the opposite gender - ok, so maybe this wasn't as selfless as I lead on...

That was my pitch to the keeper of the keys. My personal cars don't have enough seats and I was really hoping to procure something with a bit more style than the usual fare that I'm offered (I'm the new guy, so it's usually the Saturn Aura or Diesel Jetta). In a "Help a Brother Out" moment, the keymaster came through. Our BMW X5 - Four doors, easy entry/exit, decidedly upscale interior and ride, and quiet enough to hear the conversations.

The X5 was perfect. My passenger easily found the tunes she was in the mood for on my iPod via iDrive. Entering the address of bachelorette number two proved a bit more problematic, but before too long we had audible instructions to our next stop. In heavy Hollywood traffic, the X5 easily sliced through the throngs of inattentive drivers and the shoddy Melrose pavement was smoothed over by its supple suspension. The rearview camera made me look like a parallel-parking pro and let's face it, I felt pretty good driving an upscale SUV in image-conscious L.A.

We ended-up closing down one of the finest West Hollywood restaurants and in my sobriety, I realized that next time I should probably hire car service. Having all of my faculties among inebriated aspiring starlets is not nearly as fun as I thought. Much like a Tarantino movie, I hung in there out of morbid curiosity (seriously, shooting hoops at midnight and losing a game of H-O-R-S-E to a red-headed model in stilettos?). Only in L.A. - and I'd have it no other way. BMW X5, you can be my wingman anytime!

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: ialmostlike iDrive

July 23, 2008

x5idrive.jpg

I can't believe it, but I'm starting to feel at home using iDrive in our long-term 2008 BMW X5 4.8i.

I still don't think it's the best interface out there, but when you're entering a specific address, with a street name and house number, it's quite straightforward to use. I especially like how you can enter each bit of information separately in whatever order you like -- and how you can easily switch between entering a house number and an intersection.

However, I don't know if I'll ever feel at home using the automatic transmission's funky gear selector. Scott Jacobs criticized it previously, but I'm going to have to whine a little more. Specifically, I thought at first I might be too dumb to drive the X5, because I couldn't get it into reverse.

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2008 BMW X5: Off Roading in the Lap

July 07, 2008

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Sure our 2008 BMW X5 is a city dweller, and sure it's probably more suited to the racetrack (we did order the sport package) than the unpaved road, but what the heck, lets go off roading.

Okay, so it's not exactly the Rubicon, but a good hour of this deep silt had our X5 workin'. To keep moving we had the stability control system off and the truck's big 4.8-liter V8 near the top of the tach. Never got stuck, though, and the truck's all-wheel drive system never tried to eat itself or lock up in befuddlement.

We also have high praise for the Beamer's air conditioning, expecially its recirculation featurewhich kept the dust and the 105 degree desert heat on the truck's outside.

Tune tomorrow when I actually try to put a full grown human being in the X5's third row seat.

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2008 BMW X5 Goes Camping

June 30, 2008

I say "Camping" because had this been a true dehydrated-food and filter-your-drinking-water type expedition, I wouldn't have had to play this three-dimensional game of Tetris with our largest cooler, sand toys, mini boom-box, etc. Still, I managed to get four-days of food and 4-year old entertainment under the cargo tarp of the X5. I folded one of the second-row seats down, but it all fit. Follow the jump to see how camping for the camping-averse looks.

Pretty nice accommodations, huh? El Capitan Canyon is just 150-miles from Long Beach, or about a 20-minute drive north of Santa Barbara CA. I'm not promoting this place (though it is pretty cool), but they offer cabins like this one in various sizes with bathrooms, spa-style tubs, and a mini fridge. We thought this would be a low-impact introduction sooty s'mores and charred tri-tip for our daughter whose idea of roughing it has thus far meant missing an episode of Little Bill. It was nice to forget about traffic and to miss a few days of tragic news reports. Fuel economy on the 295-mile round-trip was 17.1 mpg. Woof!

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 12,480 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Love it To Pieces

June 23, 2008

After leaving the street fair in the BMW X5 on Sunday, my daughter asked, "Momma, what's this?"

Glancing up in the rearview mirror, I realized she was holding a piece of the X5 in her hot, little hand.

"I didn't do it," she said. "It was already on the floor."

Sure, I thought, asking her to slide it under the front seat so it didn't get stepped on before I had a chance to check it out.

Of course, once it was tucked out of sight, I completely forgot about it until I got to the office this morning...

Perhaps you can tell me where this piece of trim belongs before I have a chance to go down to the parking garage and look myself?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,023 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Schtick

June 18, 2008

Besides being a bit thirsty, I think the X5 is a pretty solid vehicle. It's comfy, fast and has a slick design.

Except for the auto stick.

In the grand scheme of things this is a minor blip, but I honestly think it's the brainchild of an engineer with too much free time... There is nothing wrong with the tried and true PRNDL stick, but the Günter and pals went ahead and made this nouveau version.

I feel it's awkward to use, except for the button on top that'll drop you quickly into Park. Is the push of a button that much of an advantage over six inches of travel? Not really in my opinion.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Poor Entertainment System Design

June 11, 2008

I have no doubt that the rear entertainment system in our X5 is useful for keeping kids occupied in back, but the placement of the screen is annoying. It's attached to rear of the center console, so when it's flipped down the chances of whacking your elbow on it are roughly 100%.

Then why don't I just flip it up you say? Well, yeah, sure I could do that, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it's a poorly integrated unit...

If it was a $20,000 Saturn I could deal with it, but this is a $70K BMW, I shouldn't have to put up with anything.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 10,789 miles

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BMW X5 4.8i Quiz

June 06, 2008

What do these items have in common?

...and with the back seat of our BMW X5 4.8i?

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Rear Entertainment System

June 02, 2008

2008 BMW X5 and The Road Warrior -- Brent Romans

Our 2008 BMW X5 4.8i is equipped with the optional ($1,700) rear entertainment system. The location of the 8-inch screen is unusual– it's mounted between the front seats. The system is easy to use, and it sounds pretty fantastic. There are two power points, two headphone jacks (not wireless), a remoteand a set of RCA input jacks...

The only significant downside I can think of is that the screen is potentially more prone to be scratched or damaged due to its location– my thoughts went towards errant little feet or loaded cargo. When not in use, the screen does rotate 180 degrees to face the front, at least, offering some measure of protection.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,867 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Memorial Day Travels

May 27, 2008

2008 BMW X5 - Brent Romans

I had our 2008 BMW X5 4.8i for Memorial Day weekend. No surprises here– it's a sweet ride. Besides the obvious attributes, I also happen to like its overall size. The X5 isn't plus-sizedlike the now-departed Q7 and is therefore sportier to drive and easier to park...

Since I was taking my family to visit my in-laws on a weekend full of crazy California drivers, it was nice to know that the X5 had my back with solid safety scores andall the usual safety features. It also comes with run-flat tires, adaptive brake lights and brake drying.

Fuel stops were eye-opening, of course. But I have to assume that if one has the coin to buy an X5 4.8i (ours has a $68,000 MSRP), $160 for fuel over the weekend wouldn't be budget-breaking.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,823 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Love that iDrive

May 19, 2008

Last night, I decided to give our long term 2008 BMW X5 4.8i a safety check.And so I did, while eastbound on Kentwood Blvd. In just seconds I checked the truck's oil, brake pads and brake fluid from the driver's seat. I never cracked the hood, never skinned a knuckle, heck, I never even stopped the truck.

Say what you want about BMW's iDrive system, it does have its moments of greatness...

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 8,934 miles

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Running the Mileage Numbers

May 12, 2008



Shocker of the weekend – the X5 4.8i is not for the slight of wallet. The 200-mile round trip to mom’s house on Sunday required 12.5 gallons of gas. That’s 16mpg for the mathematically challenged. Not terrible for a 5,333 pound vehicle driven with little regard for mileage, but given its need for premium fuel, it was a $50 trip... Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 8,434 miles

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Back to All Long-Term Vehicles


2008 BMW X5 4.8i: The price of a fill up

April 24, 2008

Ouch!

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 7,013 miles

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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.

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2008 BMW X5: Living On Easy Street... If I Can Find It

March 24, 2008

Springtime is full swing in the South Land; in fact it was the hottest weekend on record for this time of year. It's a perfect time to get rid of all my junk, get some tax write offs all while enjoying the nice weather with the X5's near full-length sunroof.



Temperatures got into the high 80's around LA. I had the sun shade open and the suns heat started to cook the cabin. Blasting the AC helped, but the heat radiating from the glass kept the interior toasty.

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2008 BMW X5: It's mine, it's mine

March 17, 2008

2008 BMW X5

Yes, I've been hogging the X5.

But it's such a pleasant car to drive. It's comfy, it's cozy and it allows you to make other motorists on the freeway a distant memory in the rear-view mirror.

I drove it down to Costa Mesa this weekend to the Orange County Performing Arts Center -- a beautiful place, if you've never been there... I tried to take a picture of the X5 outside the modern façade, but alas, my camera didn't cooperate with the bright lights vs. night sky atmosphere. So I went artistic with PhotoShop.

I used the navigation system to guide me there, even though it's super easy to find being right off the I-405. But I wanted to see how it behaved. It suggested a different route to the freeway than I would normally take, which saved me some time. It's always nice to find alternate routes in L.A., even if they only save you 5 minutes. The audio guidance was off and I didn't bother to put it on. The map clearly led me through each step of my journey.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,100 miles

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2008 BMW X5: Sticky Situation

March 10, 2008

2008 BMW X5

During my first night in the BMW X5, I had a hard time opening the center console but eventually managed to put my iPod in there for safekeeping. Each side opens up from the center.

Later, when I tried to retrieve my iPod, I couldn't get the doors open again. It took me a good ten minutes to rescue my iPod from the X5's clutches and I was only able to open one side of the console...

For the rest of the weekend, I never managed to open the center console doors. They were just plain stuck.

Here's a view of the buttons from behind the shifter:

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