Looking for a Used X5 in your area?

CarGurus has 8,220 nationwide X5 listings starting at $2,250.


2008 BMW X5 Test Drive Review

Call the 2008 BMW X5 the ultimate driving SUV, and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. This is a safe, speedy, and sophisticated luxury crossover SUV with seating for up to seven people.

8.5 /10
Overall Score

For 2008, the BMW X5 is available in 3.0si and 4.8i model series. Redesigned just last year, the X5 sees few changes for 2008. A power panoramic sunroof is now standard, and a power tailgate is a new option.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

Though the 2008 BMW X5 mimics the design theme and details of the first-generation version of the SUV, this is a larger vehicle with better proportions, and it wears its traditional BMW styling cues well.

If the SUV’s exterior looks all too familiar, the interior is absolutely decadent in terms of its design, materials, and layout. Some controls, however, are highly unusual. BMW’s often criticized iDrive infotainment system is standard, operated using simple controls on the center console. Also, the transmission has a shift-by-wire gear selector that takes some getting used to.


10/ 10

Serving as the X5’s standard engine, a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder supplies sweet, creamy goodness in the form of 260-horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

For more power, get the X5 4.8i. It’s got a 4.8-liter V8 engine generating 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission funnels the power to all four wheels, and BMW says this version of the X5 accelerates to 60 mph in just 7 seconds.

As you’d expect from a BMW, the X5 offers a firm ride quality, athletic handling, and it feels better in your hands the faster you drive it. A key innovation with this generation X5 is a suspension with active roll stabilization and adaptive damping, which manages the SUV’s significant weight and taller center of gravity. This suspension is included in the optional Sport Package, which also equips the X5 with 19-inch wheels.

The X5 is also available with an active steering system. At low speeds, this feature quickens steering response and makes the X5 feel nimbler in urban driving situations and when parking.

Form and Function

8/ 10

When BMW redesigned the X5 last year, it grew in size, inside and out. The rear seating area was a major beneficiary of this change, and BMW found space for an optional third-row seat. It’s not a good place for adults to sit, but it can carry kids when necessary.

Up front, the X5 is more comfortable than ever. You can even get optional 20-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, ventilation, and a massage function. They’re also wrapped in premium Nappa leather, an upgrade from the optional leather.

Standard equipment includes leatherette (simulated leather), as well as wood trim, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The X5 sits on standard 18-inch wheels and includes a power panoramic sunroof.

Popular upgrades include a Sport Package (19-inch wheels, active roll stabilization, adaptive damping suspension); a Premium Package (ambient lighting, Bluetooth hands-free calling, BMW Assist telematics service, power-folding exterior mirrors); a Cold Weather Package (heated front seats, heated steering wheel); and a Rear Climate Package (4-zone climate control, rear side window shades). The X5 is also available with Comfort Access keyless entry with push-button engine starting.

Despite its greater size, the X5 still lacks cargo space compared to primary competitors. If you use the third-row seat, cargo space is virtually non-existent. Fold it down, and you’ve got a modest 18.5 cubic feet. Maximum space measures 61.8 cubic feet.

Tech Level

8/ 10

Easily the most controversial thing about the 2008 BMW X5 is its iDrive infotainment system. It’s been around for almost a decade, first debuting in the 2000 BMW 7 Series. But it remains difficult to use, causing confusion rather than simplifying the SUV’s technology. If there is a silver lining, the more you use it, the more natural it seems.

In standard specification, the X5 includes an auxiliary audio input jack, a CD player, and a 12-speaker sound system. Upgrades include a CD changer, a 16-speaker premium sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, an iPod connector, and a USB adaptor. You can also get a rear-seat DVD entertainment system for this SUV.

An optional Technology Package equips the X5 with a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a navigation system with real-time traffic reports.


9/ 10

To ensure occupant safety, every X5 has front, side, and side-curtain airbags, in addition to antilock brakes and stability control. Run-flat tires are also standard, allowing you to drive a short distance without any tire pressure in order to find a BMW dealer, a tire repair shop, or a safe place to change the tire yourself.

If you’re involved in a collision, rest easy knowing that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the X5 a Top Safety Pick rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also assigns favorable crash-test ratings for the X5, giving it a mix of 4-star and 5-star accolades.


8/ 10

When you buy a BMW X5, you’re paying a premium for a luxury SUV. But in this case, the extra money is well spent. This is a handsome SUV with a beautiful interior, engaging driving dynamics, top safety ratings, and plenty of modern features and technologies. You’ll just need to get the hang of iDrive and the transmission shifter, and also learn to live with its rather cramped cargo space.


Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience reviewing cars and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, Autobytel, and Vehix. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.

What's your take on the 2008 BMW X5?

  • Report

2008 BMW X5 Top Comparisons

Users ranked 2008 BMW X5 against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.

Have you driven a 2008 BMW X5?  

Looking for a Used X5 in your area?

CarGurus has 8,220 nationwide X5 listings starting at $2,250.

Have questions?   Ask a question

BMW X5 Questions

How Do I Upload Photos?

where do I upload my photos? and how many are allowed?

Engine Timing

My x5 went in with the slightest rattle, they concluded that the timing was slightly out, so they say they reset it, they put everything back and rea the engine but now the noise is amplified ten fo...

2008 Bmw X5 Msport 4.8l Draining Battery Leaking Oil

I have a 2008 x5 4.8l and I noticed it had started leaking oil at first i thought it may be coming out around the filler cap in fact some of it is but upon further inspecting I think it's it may be...

How Do I Ues My Financing