An athlete in a business suit.
The 5-series emerged more handsome from a redesign in 2011. It also got new mechanicals. Fuel economy is impressive, as the 528i and the 535i benefit from auto stop/start, which shuts down the engine when idling at a stop. The 528i uses a 2.0-liter turbo four, which actually makes a bit more power than the previous six — in fact, it’s more efficient than the hybrid. The ActiveHybrid 5, as it’s known, is better to drive than most hybrids but isn’t as economical as it could be. The latest 5 has taken some knocks for its diminished steering feel, but the chassis deftly combines a plush ride and superior handling. The sport package and the M sport package take things further and include dynamic damper control and an increased top-speed limiter. A manual transmission is available for the rear-wheel-drive 535i and 550i. All-wheel-drive models, the 528i, and the Gran Turismo use an eight-speed automatic, and it’s one of the best automatics on the market. The 5-series Gran Turismo hatchback has replaced the wagon and is sort of a cross between the X5 SUV and the 5-series sedan. Its sloping roofline gives it rather odd proportions, but its long wheelbase makes for plentiful rear-seat legroom (as much as in a 7-series), and, of course, it has lots of cargo space with the rear seats down.
new for 2013
The big news is the return of the M5. It rolled into dealerships this past summer with a turbo V-8 in place of the previous V-10. Despite losing two cylinders, the M5 makes more power: 560 hp. Buyers choose a manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Also new is the ActiveHybrid 5. Unfortunately, its six-cylinder hybrid powertrain has no real fuel economy advantage over the (much cheaper) 528i.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; active head restraints for the front seats; traction and stability control; ABS; and a tire-pressure monitor are standard. The Gran Turismo additionally has knee air bags. Lane-departure warning, blind-spot assist, and night vision are optional. BMW Assist with automated crash response is standard.
Fuel economy (528i, 535i)
Steering isn’t as sharp as it used to be
GT is not easy on the eyes
Base Price Range: $48,395–$90,795
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: 528i, 535i, ActiveHybrid 5, 535i Gran Turismo, 550i, 550i Gran Turismo, M5
BODY STYLES: Sedan, hatchback, 4- or 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 240 hp, 258 lb-ft
3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft
3.0L turbo I-6/electric hybrid, 335 hp, 332 lb-ft
4.4L twin-turbo V-8, 400 hp, 450 lb-ft
4.4L twin-turbo V-8, 560 hp, 500 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 7- or 8-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: (hybrid/other sedans) 13.2/14.0 cu ft; (GT, rear seats up/down) 10.0–15.0/63.0 cu ft