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2008 BMW 5 Series

2008 BMW 5 Series

Acura TL

Jaguar XJ

Audi A5/S5

Liocoln MKZ

BMW 5 Series

Mercedes-Benz C Class

Cadillac CTS

Saab 9-3

Infiniti M35/M45

Volvo S80


BMW autos have been called "point and shoot," "a driver's car," "a nearly perfect vehicle." BMW must have been determined to eliminate the "nearly" for 2008 with its 5 Series sedans getting a slightly revised exterior, and cushier interior among changes.

2008 BMW 5 Series Interior
2008 BMW 5 Series Interior

Exterior revisions include new optical headlight lenses and other lighting updates, revised front and rear fascias, and a new air diffuser on sedans. Inside, BMW has added more luxury touches including additional leather and wood trim that flows from the instrument panel into the door. Switches are more ergonomically located, with window ones moved to armrests. A USB adapter accommodates iPods and MP3 players. Logic7 premium sound upgrade is available.

BMW's don't shy away from high technology. Standard on all models is a lane departure warning system that warns if a vehicle is drifting out of its lane. A "Stop & Go" active cruise control system lets the feature stay engaged even in heavy traffic. Head up display and night vision are available.

There are five inline six models for 2008, with three of those as "xi" models with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive. Only the 550i has a 4.8-liter, 360-HP V-8, unchanged for 2008. The N52 engines on the 528i and xi are upgraded to 230-HP. The 528i recieves the best gas mileage rating at 18 city/28 highway mpg using premium fuel. That's a 15-horsepower increase from the 525i it replaces. The N54 on the 535i and xi (including a sports wagon) generate 300-HP, up 45-horsepower from the previous 530i. The six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission with manual function is available with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters as an option.

Despite its driver's car status, some of BMW's advanced technology has smudged that panache a bit lately, to a litany of grumblings and complaints. One is the iDrive system on all 5 Series models that uses a knob to control navigation, communications, audio and climate systems. (Six programmable memory buttons were added for 2008.) Maybe folks who drive a $45K to $55K automobile haven't been the ones who grew up as much on joysticks and gaming knobs. Not yet, anyway.