NEW FOR 2008:

– Standard active head restraints
– Available all-new Premium Sound Package

For 2008, the BMW X5 remains largely unchanged, save for active head restraints as standard equipment, and a new Premium Sound package that includes a 16-speaker HiFi Sound System Professional with two subwoofers, USB audio integration and a new six-disc multimedia changer that supports an extended range of media formats, including DVD audio. Base prices stay the same as the 2007 prices.

The X5 – which BMW calls an SAV, for "sport activity vehicle" – is available in two models: the 3.0si, with 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder, and the 4.8i, with 4.8-litre V8. Both use a six-speed automatic transmission and feature xDrive all-wheel drive. The system distributes torque 40/60 front/rear under normal driving conditions, but can send up to 100 per cent power to either end. It does so proactively, using information from the dynamic stability control and other sensors to determine the possibility of slippage, and the need to brake or power up a specific wheel before any lose their grip. Both models also feature a dynamic stability control program that also includes trailer sway control.

Features on the 3.0si include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, alarm system with interior motion sensor, roof rails, rear wiper, two-piece tailgate, privacy glass, roof spoiler, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with power adjustment, cruise control, heated ten-way leather seats with memory, split-folding rear seatbacks, illuminated glove-box with removable flashlight, cargo cover, CD/MP3 stereo, BMW Assist with emergency calling, and Bluetooth telephone preparation.

The 4.8i adds self-levelling rear suspension, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, park distance control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, compass and power panoramic sunroof.

An optional third row of seats can be added to turn the X5 into a seven-passenger vehicle, but as with most three-row SUVs, it’s a tight fit in the last row and is best suited for smaller children. The X5 is a proven winner for BMW, but if you don’t need the extra room, cross-shop it against the X3, which is a more nimble and economical choice.

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