2008 BMW 5 Series Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Exceptional ride and handling dynamics, smooth and vigorous engines, premium cabin furnishings, precision build quality, strong resale value.
  • More expensive than most competitors, iDrive system is still a pain in the Bangle butt.
List Price Range
$7,499 - $10,995

Used 5 Series for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

It costs more than it should and it's needlessly complicated to operate, but among midsize luxury sedans and wagons, the 2008 BMW 5 Series is by far the most satisfying to drive.

Vehicle overview

There are few cars that achieve such a perfect mix of comfort and fun like the 2008 BMW 5 Series. It is a wolf in a flamboyant sheep's clothing: a comfortable midsize sedan that handles and performs like a sports car. And for a real surprise, a wagon model offers the same wolf but in utilitarian pack mule clothing. While other carmakers relentlessly pursue this automotive pinnacle, BMW consistently raises the bar to keep itself on top of the heap.

For 2008, the current-generation BMW 5 Series receives its most important update since the car's 2004 introduction. Most significantly, there are two new six-cylinder engines in the 5's lineup. Last year's 215-hp 525i model has been replaced by the 230-hp 528i. Even more significant is the mid-level 2008 535i. Replacing the 530i, the 535i comes with an all-new 300-hp, twin-turbo engine. Along with the V8-powered 550i, the new engine lineup makes the 5 Series an even more attractive performance sedan.

With new, innovative technologies coming at a mile-a-minute pace in this premium midsize luxury segment, BMW has introduced several standard and optional features for the 2008 5 Series. Six-cylinder models now offer Brake Energy Regeneration, which takes a page from hybrid powertrains by capturing excess braking energy and using it to power the car's many electronic systems.

There's also an upgraded cruise control system this year. Optional on automatic-transmission 5 Series, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go works much like Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus by maintaining vehicle distance at highways speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. For safety, a new Lane Departure Warning system option alerts the driver through vibrations in the steering wheel when the car starts to drift out of its lane.

The 2008 BMW 5 Series remains one of our favorite midsize luxury cars, even if its endless technology can seem a tad reminiscent of HAL 9000. Its deep options list can also raise the 5's price tag into the ionosphere, with the 550i easily reaching $70,000. Nevertheless, for those with deep enough pockets, the 5 Series offers a level of driver involvement unmatched by its competitors.

2008 BMW 5 Series models

The 2008 BMW 5 Series is available in sedan and wagon body styles. There are three engines available on the sedan, which boils down to three individual rear-wheel-drive models: 528i, 535i and 550i. The 528xi and 535xi sedans come with all-wheel drive. The wagon is only available as a 535xi.

The 528i and 528xi come standard with 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, power front seats, leatherette upholstery, automatic headlights and wipers, automatic climate control, BMW Assist telematics and iDrive control interface. The 535i and 535xi add xenon headlamps and lumbar support, while the 535xi wagon adds a panoramic sunroof, fold-down rear seats and a power tailgate. The 550i throws in parking assist, leather upholstery and auto-dimming mirrors. Most of the features that are standard on upper-level 5 Series models are optional on the lower-level models.

The options list is exceptionally long on the 5 Series and it got even longer for 2008. High-tech features include Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, a lane-departure warning system, active steering, a head-up display, infrared night vision, keyless ignition, high-definition radio, the next generation of iPod integration and a navigation system with updated iDrive and real-time traffic. Other options include ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear side airbags. A Cold Weather package adds heated front seats, heated steering wheel and retractable headlight jets. A Sport Package on rear-wheel-drive models includes 18- or 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, active roll stabilization, a sport steering wheel and multicontour seats.

2008 Highlights

The 2008 BMW 5 Series receives a number of significant changes, most notably a pair of new six-cylinder engines. The base 5 Series is now the 528i and features a 230-horsepower inline-6, while the 535i is powered by the same twin-turbo 300-hp inline-6 found in the 3 Series. There are a number of high-tech standard and optional additions to the 5 Series that allow it to keep pace and, in a few instances, surpass the rapidly advancing competition. To spot the updated 5 Series, look for a barely noticeable redesigned front airdam, new headlight lenses and LED taillights.

Performance & mpg

The BMW 5 Series' engine lineup is more powerful than ever, but more confusing with model names that no longer correspond with engine displacement. The 528i comes equipped with a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 230 hp and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 535i has BMW's impressive new twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-6, capable of 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. The 550i is the lone power plant to carry over untouched, still pumping out its ample 360 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. This engine motivates the 550i from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.

All three engines come standard with a six-speed manual, while a six-speed automatic is a no-cost option. This is good news for consumers since most 5 Series are sold with the autobox. In summer 2007, a new Sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters will be optional on Sport Package-equipped 535i and 550i sedans, replacing the previous car's SMG gearbox. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is optional on the two six-cylinder sedans (they become 528xi and 535xi), and standard on the 535xi wagon.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes stability control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags and front-and-rear side-curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional and, due to safety concerns, you must specifically request that your dealer activate the bags if you order this option. A new optional lane departure system alerts the driver via a shaking steering wheel if the car starts to veer out of its lane, while a night vision system illuminates possible hazards out of regular headlight range. Both Hill-Start Assist and Hill Descent Control are standard on AWD models, in case your extra-steep driveway ever gets slippery. In IIHS testing, the 2008 BMW 5 Series earned a top score of "Good" for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset crashes. In side-impact tests, however, the 5 Series earned a disappointing score of "Marginal," the IIHS' second-worst score.

Driving

The 2008 BMW 5 Series is an extremely balanced machine that can handle aggressive driving maneuvers on winding back roads as well as it dispatches weekday commutes on crumbling expressways. The optional active steering system hasn't dulled BMW's trademark steering feel, though driving purists will prefer the standard setup. Likewise, the standard suspension tuning gives the 5 Series plenty of capability in the corners. The new six-cylinder engines shared with the 3 Series offer more power than the outgoing units, especially the 300-hp 535i that exhibits virtually no turbo lag. Equipping the 5 Series with the V8 turns it into a seriously fast sedan that will outpace many sports cars.

Interior

Although the interior looks unchanged, there were a few key updates made. The window switches have been relocated to lower on the driver door and on Steptronic automatic-transmission models, an electronic gear selector like the one found in the X5 now resides on the center console. It's certainly interesting looking, but this odd little gizmo is largely an unnecessarily different and complex way of doing a fairly straightforward thing.

The same can be said of iDrive, the mouse and LCD screen control system standard on all 5 Series, even those without a navigation system. It now has six programmable memory buttons that can control everything from a radio preset to a frequently traveled destination. Slow and steady progress perhaps, but iDrive is still as user-friendly as a shift knob made of razor wire. Build quality and materials inside the 5 Series are still outstanding, although competitors offer more stylish and less austere environments. Supportive seating is provided in both the front and rear, and even adults won't mind sitting in the commodious backseat. The sedan has 14 cubic feet of trunk capacity, while the wagon has a 34-cubic-foot cargo bay behind its fold-down rear seats, along with standard roof rails.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 BMW 5 Series.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

The Dream Wedding of Vehicles...
Blondeinabmw,05/27/2016
535i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
Every time you take this car in for service, it costs $1,000...except for when it costs far more than $1,000. Bought my gorgeous 535i (with the sport package and premium sound) as a special order, and it arrived with 3 miles on the odometer. Since I bought it, I have been plagued with problems. Admittedly, the first 4+ years were pretty much covered under free maintenance with the warranty, but since it went off the maintenance agreement, it has more than made up for the savings. My car is 8 years old and has 107K miles. During the time I've owned it, it has required: - Three complete sets of tires plus two sets of rear tires (roughly every 20-30K miles) - A valve replaced in the engine (towed) - All six fuel injectors (limped in to the shop) - Walnut blasting of the intakes - A water pump (towed) - Computer software reinstalled (twice, took more than a week each time at the dealership for the reinstall to "stick") (towed) - Three fuel pumps (towed) - And now, the CCC is bad. This is a fancy acronym for the iDrive computer system that includes navigation, radio, bluetooth and all the car's controls. It also needs the hydraulics in the hood replaced, the xenon headlight has a malfunction (which requires the entire headlight assembly to be removed from the body of the car to change a LIGHTBULB, and if god forbid the ballast is bad, the bumper must be removed as well). For a change, it is actually driving fairly well, but this repair is gonna cost more than all the others yet! I've not added it up, but I think this car has cost me at least $1,800 a year in maintenance costs since it went off warranty in 2012, sometimes more. I will say that the cupholders in this car are the stupidest thing ever designed. It also does not hold car seats very well - infant carriers have to go in the middle back seat or the passenger seat will have to be on the dash, and convertible front-facing seats don't leave a ton of room either. It drives beautifully. Handles like a dream. Is so comfortable. Feels like a beast when you want it to. Rides gracefully. Looks pretty. Has an amazing sound system. Gets pretty good gas mileage all things considered. SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF ME.
Fun to drive, poor reliability & expensive to fix
mqc99,02/09/2014
This was my 1st and last BMW. Bought the car new, in the 6 years and 34K miles I've owned the car, I had a faulty battery, bad fuel pump, dead oxygen sensor, and a failed water pump. I was stranded 3 times (car completely died) and almost stranded twice. So, multiple trips to the shops and over 2 grand of repair bills later, I have finally gave up on this "ultimate driving machine". It was a fun car to drive while it worked. But, for a $60K car, I'd expect BMW to deliver something better. The worst part is that I totally lost my confidence in it and can no longer feel comfortable taking this car on any extended trips. This will be the LAST BMW I ever spend my money on.
SAAAAAADDDD BMW owner
Annie,04/16/2016
535xi 4dr Wagon AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
I bought this car used with a clean car fax in 2010 with less than 15000 miles. I bought an extended warranty just in case. I spent 8 month researching vehicles i would like to own and keep for 10 years. I have made a very poor decision. The maintenance cost on this vehicle will exceed its worth. It's been fun to drive, a very comfortable car with decent gas mileage. However, when I've taken it in for service, it's like sleeping with the devil. Goodbye emergency fund and hello credit card debt. It's the most disappointing feeling to love a car so much and be saddled with such repair bills. Fuel injectors replaced, water pump, thermostat, numerous hoses and vacuum hoses, and now replacing turbos and catalytic converters all before 90,000 miles. Not good resale either!!!
Great Performance Sport Sedan
Tomas Olivo,12/16/2015
550i 4dr Sedan (4.8L 8cyl 6M)
This car performs amazingly well given the facts that is a heavy midsize sedan. The look is great! Definitely a head turner with the Sport package. If you are looking for gas mileage stay away from the V8 but if you are mostly looking for performance and power, this is definitely the car for you. I have owned different cars, but this car is very special. You feel in control and you feel like you own the road when you are driving it. It is definitely a joy. I have owned the car for about 2 years now and I bought it with 73,000 miles. Currently at 104,000 miles and no major problems so far. The only major issues was resolved under warranty after a few days I bought the car at the BMW dealer it had an oil leak and a rattle in the engine but they fixed it. Also the car's transmission would malfunction sometimes but they reprogrammed the computer and the problem was gone. Other little things that I have done myself are the angel lights that went out, fog lights, brakes, etc. Something that does bother me is the transmission at low speed, it is a bit jerky especially when you drive it first time during the day. I've been thinking about upgrading to the F10 version but reading about all the mechanical issues they have, I think I'm sticking with this one for now since it has been such a great car so far.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 BMW 5 Series features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 BMW 5 Series
More About This Model

"This might be the perfect car," exclaimed one of our road test editors after putting the 2008 BMW 550i through its paces at our test track. "It's the perfect size, looks great, it's fast, it handles. Does everything well." You could throw in supremely comfortable, quiet on the highway, luxuriously appointed and beautifully built. We would never go so far as to declare it "the perfect car" — there are always going to be a few areas of contention — but the BMW 550i would most certainly be among the nominees with Vegas odds in its favor.

However, let's get this out of the way quickly: Our 550i test car was expensive. With $10,545 worth of options, this ultra-5 Series hit the register at a whopping $69,820. And other than the $500 HD Radio (still not sure what the point is), we'd be hard-pressed to remove anything.

So the 550i is expensive, but so are Brioni suits, a night at the Bellagio and a 65-inch plasma television. They're all pricey purchases, but they're usually worth it. Therefore, the question should be: Is this midsize luxury sedan that's oh-so-good in oh-so-many ways too expensive?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. A similarly equipped 750i costs almost $10,000 more than its supposed "lesser" cousin, but the 550i is the all-around better car, giving up little in the way of luxury and interior space while trouncing the 750i in the fun-to-drive department. On the other hand, the twin-turbo 535i offers nearly the same performance as the V8-powered 550i and, when equally equipped, costs about $7,000 less. Hmm, maybe that's a more perfect car.

So the 2008 BMW 550i may be too expensive for some, but as with the Brioni and Bellagio, it's hard not to toss out that old adage, "You get what you pay for." And in this case, you get one of the few nominees for the perfect car.

Used 2008 BMW 5 Series Overview

The Used 2008 BMW 5 Series is offered in the following submodels: 5 Series Sedan, 5 Series Wagon. Available styles include 528i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 6M), 535i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M), 535xi 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M), 528xi 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M), 535xi 4dr Wagon AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M), and 550i 4dr Sedan (4.8L 8cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 BMW 5 Series?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 BMW 5 Series trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 BMW 5 Series 528xi is priced between $10,995 and$10,995 with odometer readings between 186801 and186801 miles.
  • The Used 2008 BMW 5 Series 535xi is priced between $7,499 and$7,499 with odometer readings between 113000 and113000 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 BMW 5 Serieses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 BMW 5 Series for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2008 5 Serieses listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,499 and mileage as low as 113000 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 BMW 5 Series.

Can't find a used 2008 BMW 5 Seriess you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW 5 Series for sale - 7 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $19,394.

Find a used BMW for sale - 11 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $22,752.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW 5 Series for sale - 8 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $17,812.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 11 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $20,304.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 BMW 5 Series?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW 5 Series lease specials