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Avg. Price Paid:$17,239 - $17,239
Original MSRP: $54,400 - $54,400
MPG: 16 City / 24 Hwy
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2008 BMW 5-Series Wagon Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 BMW 5-Series Wagon was new.

Not surprisingly, the interior of the 2008 BMW 5-Series Wagon is luxurious, comfortable and filled with high-tech features. Though reviews quibble somewhat over its roominess and the usefulness of the technology, most agree with the New York Times that the 5-Series is "a model of comfort and good taste."

Edmunds praises the materials and the construction, but finds the overall effect slightly off-putting: "Build quality and materials inside the 5 Series are still outstanding, although competitors offer more stylish and less austere environments." Consumer Guide also praises the materials, finding that the wagon's "elegant interior decor benefits from top-notch materials." Kelley Blue Book, however, suggests that the buyer might be able to do a little better: "For the money, there are other cars on the market offering similar levels of luxury and, in some cases more interior space, although without all the complicated high-tech wizardry."

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Seating

The seats in the 5-Series Wagon are comfortable, but Forbes suggests that it's "not the roomiest car in its class." Nonetheless they feel that "four adults of all sizes will fit comfortably" and "a fifth can squeeze in the back for shorter trips." And Car and Driver believes, "Passenger space is excellent in the sedan and now in the similarly sized wagon." About the quality of the seats themselves, the Orlando Sentinel notes that "the leather-trimmed seats are very firm, in BMW fashion, but comfortable." And Edmunds finds, "Supportive seating is provided in both the front and rear."

Consumer Guide reports that the front row has "good head, leg room." The New York Times goes further, saying, "The front seats are terrific." And Kelley Blue Book believes, "Front seat comfort is excellent." The back row is only slightly less spacious, with Consumer Guide finding "toe space limited" and suggests, "Taller riders may want more head clearance and will have leg room problems only with front seats all the way back." The Orlando Sentinel finds, "Rear-seat room is more than adequate." And the New York Times thinks the back row has "adequate shoulder and leg room for three adults."

Interior Features

BMWs are known for having lots of advanced technology for the driver and passengers. According to Kelley Blue Book, the 5-Series Wagon's "innovative exterior is bested only by the amount of technology inside the cabin." But Edmunds, perhaps with tongue in cheek, says that the 5-Series Wagon's "endless technology can seem a tad reminiscent of HAL 9000," a reference to the out-of-control computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Most complaints center on the iDrive controller, which is designed to operate much of this technology from a single interface and is often a sore point in BMW reviews. Some reviewers say that it's confusing, difficult to use, and even distracting in a way that makes the 5-Series Wagon unsafe to drive. "iDrive remains a chore to use," says Forbes, "and does the opposite of what BMW originally intended -- simplify control operation." Consumer Guide says that iDrive "complicates most functions and diverts driver's attention from the road."

The Auto Channel has unpleasant memories of iDrive's past: "There have been times when I have been on introductions of BMW products where the co-driver had to work the iDrive to make it work without distracting the driver." That reviewer had a better experience this time out, however, and now feels that "either iDrive has been reorganized to make it more user-friendly, or I have become more accustomed to its quirks and idiosyncrasies, but I found it quite easy to use … I was able to access all the functions with minimal distraction."

Interior features on the 2008 BMW 5-Series Wagon include an AM/FM stereo/CD audio system with ten speakers and MP3 capabilities, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel with automatic tilt-up, automatic climate control with separate left/right temperature and air distribution controls, keyless entry with multi-function remote controller, ten-way power front seats, and memory systems for the driver's seat, side view mirrors, and steering wheel position.

An optional high-definition radio receiver is available. This allows driver and passengers to listen to HD radio, CD-quality radio broadcasts available free of charge in most large metropolitan areas. The Orlando Sentinel likes one feature in particular: "One of the most pleasant aspects of the 530xi is the huge (BMW calls it 'panoramic') sunroof that extends even partly over the rear seat."

Cargo

The cargo capacity with seats up or folded is not extraordinary for a station wagon. However, the Orlando Sentinel, however, finds the space usable "and easy to access." And Consumer Guide finds, "Good trunk room," though they also complain about "Meager interior storage" inside the car.

Review Last Updated: 2/26/09

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