2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test - Introduction

2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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2008 BMW X5 - Introduction

March 05, 2008

With each passing year, there are some things that are unavoidable. You know, we learn from our mistakes, become more pragmatic and get a little heavier. Growing up sucks and responsibility ruins everything, doesn't it?

The same rings true for vehicles that make the cut for yet another model cycle. Since its introduction in 2000, BMW's Sport Activity Vehicle (don't call it an SUV, the Germans keep telling us) has been the choice for enthusiasts still mired in the glory days of going fast, yet who've long since traded in their Barracudas for bank notes, their Mustangs for mutual funds. But now the 2008 BMW X5 has grown bigger, incorporating the ubiquitous third-row seat. (Apparently kids today are too good to ride on the parcel shelf.) The 2008 X5's longer wheelbase also has finally tamed the twitchiness of the outgoing model. Simply put, the X5 has grown up both in size and manners.

But has the 2008 BMW X5 gotten better? Is it good to learn from your mistakes and grow up?

What We Bought
There are two engine choices for the 2008 BMW X5: a snarling 4.8-liter V8 that cranks out 350 horsepower as well as 350 pound-feet of torque; and a 3.0-liter inline-6 that gets good fuel economy. Call us irresponsible, but we chose the V8. (We don't drink virgin cocktails, either.) Greg Brown said of the V8 in our full test of the 2008 BMW X5, "More impressive than the raw numbers, though, is the 4.8-liter V8's smooth and linear rush of power — the very definition of effortless acceleration." Our V8's power hits the ground by way of a six-speed automatic transmission and BMW's all-wheel-drive system.

Sometimes it's hard being us. When faced with the choice between a practical third-row seat and the sport package, we nearly fell to the ground in a faint of psychological conflict. Third-row seats are incredibly handy, and the validity of testing such an apparatus is self-explanatory. But the sport package: Have you seen it? Have you seen the staggered-width tires? As Editor in Chief Scott Oldham has said many times, "The thing's got meats!" And so it is with a heavy heart that we as adults — many of us with children at home — ordered the third-row seats and waved good-bye to not just $1,200 but also our dream of 315-size treads.

Heated seats are a must in this day and age, and BMW offers them as a stand-alone option, but we ordered the Cold Weather Package, which lumps heated seats with a heated steering wheel, ski bag and retractable headlight washers. At $900, only the HD Radio ($350), satellite radio ($595), and iPod/USB adapter ($400) were less expensive. The Rear Climate Package consists of rear sunshades, privacy glass and four-zone climate control, and matches the Cold Weather Package with its $900 bill.

The prices only went up from there.

BMW's comfort access system takes $1,000 from our pockets so that we'll never have to take the key fob from them.

Do you remember road trips with your family? We do. We remember being bored as mile after mile of scenery whizzed by as we sat stuck in a stuffy sedan. Some $1,700 bought a rear-seat DVD entertainment system that will prevent dozens of whiny recitations of "Are we there yet?" and countless rejoinders of "Don't make me turn this SUV around."

To brighten up the X5's traditionally austere German interior, we wanted a sunroof. Part of the $1,750 Premium Package, a large power moonroof is matched with lumbar support for the driver seat (of all things), a garage door opener and auto-dimming rearview and outside mirrors.

Coming in at $1,850, the Premium Audio system offers a six-disc multimedia changer that allows DVD playback on the navigation screen when the vehicle is not in motion. It also boasts 16 speakers, two subwoofers under the front seats and a 600-watt nine-channel amp. That's six more speakers than our long-term Buick Enclave and a full 10 more than our Ford Focus.

But the audio system is not the most expensive of our toys. No, that honor belongs to the Technology Package, some $2,500 worth of back-up camera, park-distance controller and navigation system. If we were going to be stuck with iDrive, we were going to get some features with which it would work.

Including a $775 destination charge, our Platinum Bronze Metallic X5 has more than $13,245 worth of options. With a base price of $55,275, the X5 4.8i is already a tough pill to swallow, but at our as-tested price of $68,520 even an anaconda would require the Heimlich.

Why We Bought It
Growing pains hurt, and while we'll always long for our younger days, growing old sure beats the alternative. BMW created the market for premium, high-performance SUVs (no, the Lamborghini LM002 doesn't count) with the BMW X5, and the 2008 X5 is no different. But can BMW's badass in a Brioni suit still hold our attention, or has the prospect of real utility spoiled the dream?

Stay tuned to our long-term blog for the next 12 months as we put 20,000 miles on our new 2008 BMW X5 4.8i.

Current Odometer: 2,550
Best Fuel Economy: 17.6 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 13.3 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 15.5 mpg

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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