All new for 2011, the 5-Series is offered with three different engines-designated by the models 528, 535 and 550. A 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine is standard on 528 models; 535 models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter six. A twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine making 407 horsepower equips the 550. All three models will ultimately be offered with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, although initially, rear-wheel drive will be the only option. Each of the models comes with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, but a new 8-speed automatic transmission with taller overdrive gears aimed at offering higher fuel economy is optional. The new 5-Series also includes BMW's Brake Energy Regeneration system, which charges the battery when the car is decelerating or braking, rather than running the alternator all the time.The M5 model resides at the top of BMW's performance lineup, and for 2011, it's powered by a 550-hp version of the twin-turbo 4.4L V8, replacing the 500-horsepower V10 engine offered in 2010. Power gets to the road via an 8-speed automated manual transmission, or by a more conventional 6-speed manual. The M5 utilizes a specially tuned sport suspension and unique cross-drilled disc brakes. If the brute force and roaring exhaust note aren't enough, M5-specific wheels, a special spoiler and air diffuser further distinguish it from the rest of the 5-Series. The 5-Series models have a roomy interior, with 10-way adjustable front seats that are excellent for long trips, enough back seat space for adults and a trunk with an impressive 18.2 cubic feet of space. The instrument panel looks much like the one offered in the 7-series, with updated black panel displays and new steering wheel mounted navigation controls. BMW's iDrive system returns, but with an updated interface aimed at being easier to use.BMW offers a wide array of technological features on its new 5-Series, including a new Top View camera system to aid the driver in seeing while parking and a Parking Assistant, which at speeds up to 22 mph, automatically scans the curb for large enough parking spaces for the car. Once a space is selected by the driver and the car is put in reverse, the computer takes over, controlling the steering and parking the car, with the driver only working the gas and brake. Active Roll Stabilization simulates much stiffer anti-roll bars with an electronically controlled pump system and Active Steering helps steer the car back toward a more stable situation when the electronic stability control intervenes. Front side-impact and head-protecting airbags for front and rear outboard occupants are standard. Rear side airbags are optional. To help increase alertness and safety, BMW has designed a lane departure warning system. A clever night vision system is available, which helps spot and avoid animals in the darkness ahead, and a new Side View system mounts cameras in both front fenders, allowing the driver to see around corners that might otherwise be blind. BMW's active cruise control is one of the most advanced offered, capable of even stopping and restarting the vehicle in traffic. Other unusual options include a heads-up display, high-definition (HD) radio and a high-beam assist feature.
Athletic handling; superior ride quality; understated styling; powerful and refined engines; impressive high-tech features
For 2011, BMW's 5-series has been given a complete redesign. Now in its sixth generation, the car is slightly longer and wider, up by 2.3 inches and a half inch, respectively, while the car's styling is much more conservative than the previous generation. The engine lineup has been changed as well; the 535i's 3.0L 6-cylinder dropped to a single turbo but now makes 306 horsepower, and the 550i receives the 7-series' twin-turbo V8, which produces 407 horsepower. A 528i model, with a non-turbocharged version of the 3.0L six making 240 horsepower is expected later in the 2011 model year. All three can be had with a 6-speed manual, but an 8-speed automatic is also available.
The 5-Series lineup of models offers athletic and surefooted sedans that also offer a surprising level of comfort inside. Technology is also a strong point in the 5-Series, with performance and safety standouts such as Active Steering, Active Roll Stabilization and a night vision system. The 5-series Grand Turismo Wagon is a very fashionable and fun-to-drive alternative to a sport-utility vehicle.