Redesigned for 2007, BMW's X5 sport utility vehicle offered more seats, power and size than its forebear. Exterior sheet metal mimics other designs by BMW stylist Chris Bangle, though here the flanks seem less chiseled, the creases more softly hewn. Interior styling follows that of the current 3, 5 and 7 Series cars. The X5's primary competitors include the Acura MDX and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Changes are minor for 2008.
The 2008 X5 gains one new exterior color — Mineral Green Metallic — and beige simulated leather is now offered on the base 3.0si trim level. The Premium Sound Package adds an iPod interface, and the CD changer has been swapped with a DVD changer.
Notable X5 features include BMW's variable-ratio Active Steering system and an electronically controlled suspension branded AdaptiveDrive. The X5's electronic stability system has been bolstered with functions like brake drying and brake fade compensation. Run-flat tires are also standard.
The X5's skin shows no drastic styling rebirth — rather, it's an amalgamation of the updates other Bimmers have acquired in the years since the X5 came on the scene. The headlights and air dam have a lot of 3 Series in them, while the hood lines recall the 5 Series. In back, the X5's taillamps bear many similarities to its predecessor's design, though the rear hatch has fewer creases than it used to.
Standard xenon headlamps rotate several degrees during turns to better illuminate corners. The fog lights also rotate, which is an uncommon feature.
Standard wheels are 18 inches in diameter, although 19- and 20-inch rims can be ordered. BMW's AdaptiveDrive system coordinates electronic suspension damping and roll resistance for better cornering.
The cabin is furnished similarly to those in BMW's current cars, with a prominent dashboard deck that abruptly descends toward wood trim. A large information screen sits front and center, though it's operated with BMW's confounding iDrive system. Six programmable buttons on the center stack allow drivers to bypass iDrive for various functions.
Standard audio includes an in-dash CD player with 10 speakers and an auxiliary jack for iPods or other MP3 players. Audiophiles can choose a Dolby 5.1 surround sound system with 16 speakers; other luxury options include heated seats for front- and second-row occupants.
The cargo floor boasts nearly four extra inches of length compared to its predecessor. An optional third-row seat expands seating capacity to seven, but the last two passengers had better not be too big — BMW says third-row accommodations are for people 5 feet, 6 inches or shorter. The second and third rows fold down, leaving 75.2 cubic feet of cargo volume, a figure that leads the Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Infiniti FX.
Under the Hood
BMW aficionados know the new X5's engines well. The automaker's venerable 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine works in the X5 3.0si, where it generates 260 horsepower and 225 pounds-feet of torque. In the X5 4.8i, a 4.8-liter V-8 makes 350 hp and 350 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines work through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard xDrive all-wheel drive uses an electronic center coupling to shift torque between the front and rear wheels. Under normal circumstances, 60 percent of power is sent rearward.
All-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard, as are side curtain airbags for the first and second rows of seats that can detect rollovers and maintain inflation longer. The X5 is one of a handful of vehicles to employ adaptive brake lights, which illuminate across a wider area under heavy braking.
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