There have been five generations of the BMW 5 Series, and BMW continues to raise the bar for the class. The midsized 5 Series is available with a variety of powertrains – to satisfy the craving for economy without sacrificing performance – and the 5 Series Gran Turismo is a modern tourer that’s spacious, distinctive and comfortable.
The 5 Series experience starts at the 528i sedan (MSRP $45,050). All 5 Series sedans wear the same sporty and elegant styling that makes them unmistakably BMW. A 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder smoothly spins out 240 hp that is sent to the rear wheels to create the classic 5 Series trifecta of inline-six power, rear-wheel drive and stellar chassis balance.
Never content to rest on its past glory, BMW pushes the state of the art forward with the 528i. An eight-speed Sport Automatic Transmission features paddleshifters for manual control, and the abundance of gear ratios aids both performance and economy. Brake Energy Regeneration and a design ethos with efficiency at its core result in 32 mpg on the highway, no mean feat with a vehicle this roomy and luxurious.
The 535i sedan (MSRP $50,100) ups the available horsepower to an even 300 with torque also coming in at 300 lb/ft. The power increase is thanks to the TwinPower Turbocharged engine that combines a twin-scroll turbocharger with high-precision piezo direct fuel injection, and the BMW-exclusive Valvetronic and Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing and lift technology for better engine breathing. There’s virtually no turbo lag, peak torque is there from a near-instantaneous 1,200 rpm and the 535i still returns 30 mpg on the highway, despite having the soul of a sports car hidden inside.
The high level of technology applies to the 5 Series interior as well. The 535i features BMW ConnectedDrive and standard iDrive. This suite of electronic features integrates your portable devices seamlessly, and the system contains a mobile office to keep you in touch with the outside world. It can even read your e-mail and text messages to you, enhancing both safety and connectedness.
BMW makes its much-lauded 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbocharged V8 available in the 5 Series as well. The 550i sedan (MSRP $60,200) packs 400 hp to tickle the adrenal glands, and still remains responsible, delivering up to 25 mpg on the highway. The 550i is a true sports sedan with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment and an electronic limited-slip rear differential to handle the engine’s prodigious power. Putting that power to the ground are standard run-flat tires on 18-inch Star Spoke wheels, ensuring you’ll never be stranded by a flat.
The 550i cabin is swathed in standard Dakota Leather in a variety of colors to complement the exterior in the stylish BMW way. All 5 Series models can be further embellished with a wide range of available packages such as the Dynamic Handling Package, which includes Adaptive Drive and the Sport Package. Adaptive Drive combines Active Roll Stabilization (ARS) with Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) to reduce body roll, increase road contact when cornering and provide passengers with a more level ride. The Sport Package brings high-gloss black “Shadowline” exterior trim, special 19-inch Light alloy wheels with performance run-flat tires, increased top-speed limiter, a leather-covered sports steering wheel and multi-contour seats. The Cold Weather Package adds heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and retractable headlight washers, all welcome additions when you’re going where it’s snowing.
The BMW xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system is available across the 5 Series range, a boon for drivers in the dead of winter or the scorching peak of summer. When it’s hot and dry out, xDrive puts the power exactly where it’s most beneficial. The xDrive system can vector the engine’s torque directly to a single wheel, if needed. It’s an ability that helps the 5 Series maintain its pace out of corners and it gets all four tires into the act of performance driving, enhancing the experience. In the rain and snow, the other side of xDrive’s talents come out with sure-footed winter traction.
Understanding that some drivers want something a bit different, BMW has made sure that the 5 Series charms are available for these drivers by creating the 5 Series Gran Turismo range, which combines the performance and luxury characteristics of a classic 5 Series sedan with some of the versatility of a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) in an elegant, somewhat stretched four-door body style. Roomy, and unlike anything else on the market, the 5 Series Gran Turismo models are available in 535i or 550i form, in both rear- and xDrive all-wheel drive configurations.
The BMW 5 Series is a sports sedan scholar, and the new niche the 5 Series Gran Turismo makes this model’s excellence available in a format that expands the appeal. The sharp reflexes of any 5 Series are their own exclusive safety feature, but the 5 Series is the first car to receive a Five-Star rating on its first try in the newly-more-stringent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) agrees, naming the 5 Series a Top Safety Pick because of its high ratings in test categories.
It’s friendly, comfortable and competent, and the BMW 5 Series continues to set the standard for everyone else.