KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
While the 2009 BMW 5 Series is the most technologically advanced entry in the luxo-sport sedan category, the fact that it's the only one to offer a manual transmission more accurately captures the basis of its appeal. As it's quietly grown into a living legend, the continuing success of the performance-oriented 5 Series has helped to invigorate the entire category in which it competes. The softer Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 are still sportier than ever, while the latest Infiniti M is the stiffest competition the 5 Series has faced yet – from a performance standpoint, anyway. Anchored by the 528i, 535i and 550i sedans, the lineup also includes the all-wheel-drive 528xi and 535xi sedans plus a 535xi wagon.
You'll Like This Car If...
The BMW 5 Series earned its deserved reputation as the supreme midsize sport sedan almost on driving dynamics alone. Combined with standout styling, a well-appointed cabin and some of the most sophisticated technologies available in an automobile, the 5 Series offers something for everyone.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you aren't overly swayed by the BMW badge, the bold styling or the renowned driving feel, you might find it harder to live with the driver's awkward cupholder, the improving (but still complex) iDrive central control system or the significant price premium when compared to competitors like the Infiniti M.
What's New for 2009
The 5 Series carries over largely unchanged for 2009. New 17-inch wheels are made standard on 528 and 535 trims, while the latest version of BMW's MyInfo allows subscribers to upload street addresses and phone numbers from Google Maps directly to their car.
Sandwiched between a positively turbine-like V8 and a base six-cylinder that's strong enough for more drivers than will buy it is the bread and butter of the model's powertrain lineup, the twin-turbo six-cylinder. Along with virtually lag-free response, this excellent engine combines zero-to-60-mph sprints just a couple ticks slower than the V8, according to BMW, with fuel economy very close to the base engine's. Feel free to pick whichever engine you like, as there isn't a bad choice among them. Whichever powerplant you might choose, response, feel and feedback from all the systems – steering, suspension, brakes – are exceptional as expected. We especially like the sport version of the new faster-shifting automatic, which includes paddle shifters and rev matching for smooth downshifts.
Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go
The 5 Series' available radar-based cruise control will detect a slower-moving vehicle ahead and reduce speed accordingly. The system can even slow the car to a complete stop, enabling use in stop-and-go traffic.
For an even sportier sport sedan, the available "sport pack" fortifies the 5 Series with a more aggressive suspension and Active Roll Stabilization, which further minimizes body lean in corners. Other highlights include unique wheels and 20-way adjustable seats.
The 2009 BMW 5 Series' 10-way and available 20-way adjustable seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the class, excelling on twisty roads and long highways alike. Some of the more notable changes made last year include a revised center console with a new electronic shifter, more intuitively positioned window switches and a mostly subtle increase in overall refinement. The overall air of firm luxury remains, although there's a vague starkness not found in Audi or Lexus brands. Rear-seat room and trunk space are on par for the segment.
The bustle-back trunk, sharp-creased edges and cat's-eye headlights that caused such a stir when the model was introduced for the 2004 model year have helped the current-generation 5 Series become the best-selling iteration yet. Last year's mild makeover that included revised front and rear fascias, reworked headlights and taillights, carries over for 2009, but new wheel designs add a fresh, aggressive look.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment on a 2009 BMW 528i includes a moonroof, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system, iDrive central control (with six programmable memory buttons), 10-way power seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and no-charge maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control plus front, front-side and two-row curtain airbags. Unique to the 535xi Sport Wagon are a dual-panel panoramic sunroof and a power liftgate.
Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to a long list of modern features that have become commonplace in the category, the 5 Series lineup offers such desirable extras as Active Steering (everyday benefits include reduced steering wheel movement in parking lots), a head-up display, night vision system, lane departure warning system, active cruise control with new "Stop & Go" feature, navigation system with real-time traffic information and HD radio. The 2009 BMW 5 Series is one of the most tech-savvy vehicles on the road.
Under the Hood
Although it shares the same 3.0-liter displacement as the base engine, the strong but silky twin-turbocharged in-line six from the 535i and 535xi produces 70 more horsepower and 100 pound-feet more torque. The V8 remains the quintessential power fiend's engine of choice, but it comes with such a heavy price tag that the twin turbo begins to look like the better pick. A six-speed manual transmission is standard across the line, but a quick-shifting six-speed automatic is a no-charge option. The 535i and 550i models offer a Sport version of the automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rev-matching downshifts.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 (manual), 18/27 (automatic), 17/25 (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line 6
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (manual) 17/25 (automatic, AWD), 16/25 (manual, AWD), 16/24 (automatic, AWD wagon), 16/23 (manual, AWD wagon)
360 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
360 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (manual), 15/23 (automatic)
The 2009 BMW 528i, 535i and 550i sedans start at Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of roughly $46,500, $52,000 and $61,000, respectively. Add about $2,000 for all-wheel drive (528xi and 535xi). The 535xi wagon starts at about $56,500 and a fully loaded 550i tops out over $80,000. We expect our Fair Purchase Prices to continue reflecting real-world transaction prices near MSRP. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 are priced similarly, while the Infiniti M can be a high-value alternative. As for resale value, we expect all of these vehicles to perform well, with BMW, Audi and Infiniti leading the way.