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2008 BMW 535i

The 2008 BMW 535i is a really exceptional car, offering a great driving experience and an impressive array of electronics in the cabin. From its shifter to its live traffic system, it has innovative features that should make any techie drool.

CNET Reviews staff

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For 2008, BMW puts its twin turbocharged 3-liter engine in the 5-series. This car is also loaded with most of BMW's latest technology, from HD radio to live traffic reporting.
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BMW keeps its famed kidney grille intact, and flattens down the front fenders, emphasizing the hood bulge.
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This powerplant, launched in the 3-series last year, lets BMW compete with the plethora of 3.5-liter V-6 cars. It's a straight six cylinder 3-liter engine with twin-turbochargers, giving it 300 horsepower.
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The legacy of BMW designer Chris Bangle is evident in the liquid smooth sides of the 535i.
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The pronounced line along the side of the trunk lid, extending down below the tail-lights, makes an odd wedge shape, as if the back had been cut off, then hastily glued back on.
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The rear of the 535i is refined, without any overt performance cues.
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Although the cabin materials are nice and everything is well-fitted, it doesn't feel particularly luxurious.
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Controls on the three-spoke wheel let you change radio stations or CD tracks, lower and raise the volume, choose modes, and activate voice command. We never could figure out what the diamond-shaped button does.
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The automatic transmission shifter is fully electronic, and looks like a museum piece.
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BMW keeps classic analog gauges in the instrument cluster, complete with the traditional instant fuel economy gauge.
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The iDrive menu fills the wide screen in the dashboard. We all might as well get used to it--iDrive is here to stay.
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The graphics for route guidance aren't particularly rich, but they are informative.
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With its new live traffic service, you can look at detailed reports on traffic incidents and slow-downs.
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Slow traffic is represented as a series of arrows, in the direction of the slow traffic, on the affected road.
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BMW offers one of the best cell phone integration systems, with complete access to your cell phone's phone book.
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An HD radio tuner is a $500 option. In our experience, it adds slightly better quality to radio broadcasts. Note the HD symbol at the bottom of the screen.
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The CD player can handle MP3 CDs, but it doesn't show ID3 tag information, only displaying files and folders. This is a strange oversight.
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With the equalizer, you can really fine-tune the audio quality. And there are convenient bass and treble controls, as well.
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The auxiliary audio jack is mounted behind the console, a less-than-convenient spot.
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The park distance warning gives you a graphic display of obstacles in front and behind the car.

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