2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test - Interior

2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Now That's Snug

February 27, 2009

X5 seats up 555.jpg

In a bid to appear like responsible adults we ordered the $1,200 third-row seats option on our long-term X5 instead of the monster 20-inch-wheels option. They are mutually exclusive options.

We're not saying it was a mistake, per se. But we can say that if we were buying an X5 for personal use we'd save ourselves the $1,200. And if we really needed three rows of seats, we wouldn't even consider the X5.

The two folding mini-buckets in the way-back are simply not very useful. But what about kids, you say? Well, there are no Latch attachments for the third row which would mean you'd have to use the old-school belts. And beside, we think some of our child-safety seats are bigger than the X5's third-row buckets. Although the kids would at least get an HVAC vent and a couple of cupholders back there.

And what about cramming adults back there, just for short trips? Stop being ridiculous. We crawled back there and it hurt. We don't dislike anyone that much -- certainly not anyone we'd allow into our car. Even employees of BMW North America will admit that offering the third row in the X5 was simply a marketing exercise and not a particularly useful option.

During it's stay with us the X5's rear-most seats remained folded into the floor basically always. There they added weight and cost and became the locus of resentment for staffers who really wanted the big, meaty rear tires.

-- Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,358 miles

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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: Toasted Buns

January 16, 2009

toasted buns sized.jpg

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: Not So Funny

November 22, 2008

I drove the X5 plenty in the last week for photo shoots. My passenger and I constantly knocked our elbows on the video screen situated between the two front seats.


I tried to find a way to fold it out of my way, but my arm was so numb and tingly from repeated beatings that I simply gave up.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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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: Headrest Be Jammed

August 04, 2008


We've already told you about the fart noises coming from telescoping steering wheel of our long-term 2008 BMW X5. It plays the toot salute everytime you climb into the car and the wheel moves itself into the predetermined position. Parts are on order to fix the problem and it has been the only scar on the BMW's quality record. Not bad for a vehicle that has covered 15,000 miles since January.

Well, this weekend I discovered the X5's second small glitch. This rear headrest is jammed. Won't go up, won't go down. No big deal, but it can make the installation of some kid seats more difficult (notice I installed ours on the other side). We'll get it fixed when we return to the dealer to fix the SUV's flatulence.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 14,779 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 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: Automatic Interior Venting

May 30, 2008

2008 BMW X5 - Brent Romans

I'm sure everybody has experienced the unpleasantness of getting into a parked car that's been sitting out on a hot summer day. For the X5, BMW offers an iDrive-based feature to help alleviate the unpleasantness.

You can program the X5 to turn on its climate control fan (to draw in fresh air) at a set time. For example: say you've gone shopping at the mall and know you'll be done about 5 p.m... You can set the fan to turn on at 4:35 p.m. so that the interior will be much cooler when you get back.

Though I wasn't able to fully test the effectiveness of the feature, it does indeed blow low-speed air through the vents when activated.

It occurred to me that this is a feature that only becomes possible when a car has a control interface as powerful as iDrive. It also occured to me that you're not exactly out of luck if your car doesn't have automatic venting -- just crack open the windows an inch.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2008 BMW X5 4.8i: Toasty Hands

March 27, 2008

BMW X5 Heated Steering Wheel and My Cold Hands -- Photo by James Riswick

I have cold hands. Back when I used to live in cold climates, they would belike freezer packsfrom about November to April -- big hit with girlfriends. Although California has improved the situation, my hands still get a little cold and unlike Indiana or Toronto, I'd look like a moron if I went around Santa Monica with gloves on.

While managing editor Donna DeRosa loves herself some heated seats for a wonky back, I found myself just as happy with our X5's heated steering wheel included in the $900 Cold Weather Package that also features Donna's heated front seats, a ski bag and retractable headlight washers...

Unlike a few other heated steering wheels I've come across, the X5's doesn't roast your hands, it provides gentle warmth. It'slikedriving with your hands on a cup of tea, which I'm actuallydoing in the midst oftyping this.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,165 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.

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