By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/25/2011
In some cases, building a reputation may be preferred to protecting one, especially in terms of cars. Every brand sold in the U.S. made its debut at some point, but as we've seen with companies like Kia, the road to success isn't always smooth. However, with time Kia's products - and its reputation - improved. Compare that with BMW, the heralded maker of its self-titled Ultimate Driving Machines. The pressure is always on to better the competition and its own lineup, with the end result being cars like the 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan. Sporting a fresh, mildly aggressive appearance and a reinvigorated trio of powerful and efficient engines, BMW's mid-level luxury sedan confidently stakes its claim in the luxury sedan segment once again.
Amenities such as a USB port and a complimentary satellite radio subscription are becoming increasingly common on cars priced well below $25,000. They're options costing at least $350 on the BMW 2011 5 Series Sedans.What's Significant About This Car?
The BMW 2011 5 Series Sedan has been updated with revised styling that's stretched over a longer body. Engineers have added electrically assisted power steering and planted more power under the hood. Lastly,, the 528i xDrive Sedan and 535i Wagon have been scratched from the lineup this year.Driving It Driving Impressions
Regardless of which flavor is chosen - mild (528i), medium (535i) or hot (550i) - the 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan rewards with varying levels of power and handling capability. We've spent the most time in the 2011 BMW 550i Sedan, and can attest to its smooth, effortless operation at speeds within and far outside legal limits. Turbo lag is a non-issue. Complimenting the 5 Series' powertrains is an immensely stable chassis, one characterized by responsive electrically-assisted steering, as well as capable and easily modulated brakes. The sport mode setting also buckles down the suspension a bit, transforming a comfortable and compliant luxury car into a sport sedan that will make drivers long for a lonesome curvy road.Favorite Features
Integral Active Steering
The 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan is available with an integral active steering system that, depending on vehicle speed, aims the rear wheels in the same or opposite direction of the front wheels. The end result is improved handling.
M Sport Package
Designed for those who want to get the most performance out of their 2011 5 Series Sedan, the M Sport Package ups the ante with a sport suspension, lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, and a higher electronically limited top speed.
The 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan has a significantly updated interior, highlighted by a new instrument cluster. The driver and front passenger are treated to spacious bucket seats that are decidedly firm. Still, they're plenty comfortable and supportive, even over the course of hundreds of miles. Rear occupants sit on a standard bench seat set at a reclined angle. Rear legroom is in short supply.Exterior
Muscular is the best way to describe the updated 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan. This is due in no small part to the sculpted hood and side panels. The company's signature kidney grille is surrounded by sleek new headlights that provide a cleaner, leaner appearance, while the taillights have been reshaped and now offer a semblance of style. Collectively, these subtle changes create a look that compliments the 5 Series' sport sedan underpinnings.Notable Standard Equipment
While the absence of standard satellite radio service and a USB port is disappointing, the 2011 BMW 5 Series Sedan isn't what you'd call a back-to-basics car. Every version sports a power moonroof, Bluetooth connectivity, high-definition audio, dual-zone climate control and push-button ignition. Unfortunately, real leather upholstery is reserved for the top-of-the-line 2011 BMW 550i. The standard iDrive telematics system continues to add complexity to what were once simple tasks.Notable Optional Equipment
In addition to packages designed to improve handling or coddle the driver are desirable options for rear-passenger comfort and overall safety. The 2011 BMW 5 Series' rear seating area can be fitted with an entertainment system, heated and ventilated buckets, individual zones for the climate control system and power sunshades. On the safety front, 5 Series' buyers can opt for a blind-spot warning system and a rearview camera, but the real head turner is the Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection option. The system scans nearly 1,000 feet ahead and can detect people within 300 feet.Under the Hood
When you think of a large luxury sedan, impressive fuel economy isn't likely to be at the forefront of your mind. But that's exactly what you'll get with the rear-drive 2011 BMW 528i Sedan. It boasts a 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission that combine to deliver 32 miles per gallon in the government's highway driving cycle. The next most powerful engine, the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder, makes 400 horsepower and is fitted in 535i versions. The engine in the 550i variants is a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 generating 400 horsepower.
3.0-liter in-line 6
240 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
230 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32
3.0-liter in-line 6 twin-turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1200-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (manual, RWD), 20/30 (automatic, RWD), 19/29 (automatic, AWD),
4.4-liter V8 twin-turbocharged
400 horsepower @ 5500-6400 rpm
450 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (manual, RWD; 17/25 (automatic, RWD), 16/24 (automatic, AWD)
What one pays for a 2011 BMW 5 Series is heavily dependent upon which model is selected. The most affordable of the bunch is the 2011 BMW 528i sedan, which starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $45,000. A jump up to the 2011 BMW 535i Sedan requires laying out another $5,000, or about $50,000 in total. Buyers interested in the 2011 BMW 550i Sedan will have to dig extra deep to cover a base price of nearly $61,000. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system can be added to 535i and 550i models for an extra $2,300. All models are selling for $500 to $1,800 below MSRP. Projected resale value is comparable to the Infiniti M37 and better than the Mercedes-Benz E350 and Audi A6. To find out what smart buyers are paying for the 2011 5 Series, check out our Fair Purchase Price. Check current manufacturer incentives for the 2011 BMW 5 Series.