2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2008 BMW X5 Long Term Road Test

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

February 22, 2009

X5 climate intensive 555.jpg

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

X5 service 555.jpg

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

X5 iDrive 555.jpg

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!

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: 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: Comfort Opening Disclosure

November 11, 2008

comfort opening 555.jpg

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 4.8i: ialmostlike iDrive

July 23, 2008


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


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.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 12,936 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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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: 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: 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: 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: iDrive Is Good at Something!!!

March 26, 2008

BMW X5 iPod on iDrive -- Photo by James Riswick

Find a person who likes iDrive and I'll show you 48 others who think it stinks. Although I've pretty much gotten the hang of it, that doesn't mean I like it. You can get the hang of cleaning toilets, too.

But this morning I've found something iDrive is good at, very good at actually. The iPod connection and control is probably the best I've come across. Although the iDrive and its menus are overly complicated for simpler tasks likechanging a radiopreset or stereo mode, they area good match for controlling an iPod's more complicated arrangement of playlists, albums and artists. They arealso accessed pretty quickly (some systems have annoying loading times) and you can also control it while driving, unlike our Scion.

The Scorsese video below is a small glimpse of how quick and easy this iPod connection is. And no, there is no excuse for having Avril Lavigneon theiPod artists list (I actually paused on it in disgrace), even if we do come from the same Canadian province.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,165 miles

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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.

With some junk I out of my apartment and the six bags of clothes I got out of my girlfriends closet, we started the Saturday with a run to Goodwill. But soon after the pleasant weekend out in the X5 hit a snag in the weekend pleasure cruise as we tried to find our way to a birthday party in the South Bay.

The nav system didn't have listings for some towns that might otherwise be considered parts of larger cities. We tried and tried but couldn't figure out which city Rolling Hills Estates was a part of. Long Beach, Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, maybe by street? None of our ideas worked. Maybe we both idiots, but my girlfriends' iPhone came to the rescue in the end.

The real pain came Monday morning when I filled the tank. The X5 requires premium fuel at $4.019 a gallon. Fifty-one bucks later I saw that I'd only gone 59 miles. I guess I really had a lead foot this weekend. Like the previous post stated, if you can afford this car, then fuel costs aren't going to be such an issue.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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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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