By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.6
Some 35 years ago BMW stretched its brand with the U.S. introduction of the 530i, marking the debut of its first "mid-size" sedan in the U.S. With more room than the iconic 2002 and more sporting than the larger 2500/2800/Bavaria, the 5 Series was arguably the first attempt by a German automaker to craft a modern sport sedan comfortable for four while still entertaining for one. In 2012, BMW grows the 5 Series by shrinking its standard powerplant, going from the traditional in-line six to a twin-turbocharged "TwinPower" 2.0-liter four. With 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, acceleration is up by 5 percent, while efficiency is some 20 percent better than its predecessor. For those who want extra room for cargo, BMW recently introduced the Gran Turismo, which features a large rear hatch and, like the sedans, available all-wheel drive. And of interest to BMW M enthusiasts is the return of the M5, powered by a twin-turbo 560-horsepower V8. It arrives in the summer of 2012 as a 2013 model.
If you desire a balanced approach to performance, comfort and practicality – and want all three in a reasonably sized sedan – few cars can match the menu provided by BMW's 5 Series. And if, perchance, you're one of the few capable of coordinating your left foot with your right hand, BMW is one of the very few automakers providing the above with a manual transmission – in the 535i and 550i.
With the advent of sporty crossovers, and the growing popularity of sport coupes, the sport sedan is at an interesting point in the automotive paradigm. The 5 Series remains practical and sporting, but its practicality is limited by its architecture, and its "sportiness" is limited by its 3-box profile. Also, its sensible starting point – mid-$40Ks – can quickly become nonsensical with the addition of but a few options.
BMW created an all-new 5 Series for the 2011 model year, but the hits just keep on coming. For 2012, BMW dumps the 3.0-liter six in the base 528i and substitutes a 2.0-liter turbocharged four. With a bump in horsepower, torque and efficiency, this would seem to be a win/win/win for the consumer. However, Americans have been historically reluctant to spend big bucks on small powerplants. Hopefully, the dynamic has changed with escalating gasoline prices and growing awareness of global warming. The larger Gran Turismo uses 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines.
Driving Impressions Regardless of drivetrain, the 2012 BMW 5 Series family provides a balanced approach to over-the-road performance. And when equipped with all-wheel drive, BMW's mid-size sedan and Gran Turismo are blessed...with "all-road" performance, going tough when the going gets tough. With your choice of a turbocharged four, in-line six or V8, you can truly tailor a BMW 5 Series to your performance requirements and, of course, budget. The entry-level 528i is blessed with a surprising amount of urge (0–60 in 6.2 seconds), a modest appetite for fuel (22 mpg city/32 highway) and a throaty – almost lusty – personality on the open road. With that, the sweet spot is probably where the 5 Series began, with a healthy six (535i) propelling you at triple-digit speeds (where allowed).
6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
BMW remains one of the few automakers fully invested in the customer's driving experience. The availability of a 6-speed manual is clear evidence of same; we only wish it were available in the 528i, where a manual connection with a turbocharged four would bring more joy to our motoring experience.
CINNAMON BROWN/BLACK DAKOTA LEATHER
We're suckers for a striking color combination, and this interior – with its warm, rich hues and heavy texture – would look ausgezeichnet (excellent) when juxtaposed against some overtly Teutonic exterior color.
The 5's interior space has grown slightly, while the overall impression has grown almost exponentially. Already a strong suit, BMW paid special attention to ergonomics in the new 5 Series, with all displays, knobs and buttons located in the central portion of the cabin. And while the choice of interior materials reflects a new maturity on the part of BMW management – this, of course, is where consumers spend most of their time – we'd take issue with the standard-spec leatherette upholstery on a car with a base price of over $45K, stretches. 2012 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo models have a higher seating position for the driver, giving it the feel of a quasi-crossover. Additionally, GT models feature an innovative dual-access tailgate that can open partially like a trunk lid or fully like a hatchback to accommodate larger items.Exterior
In assessing the new 5 Series, it's helpful to have some background. Its chassis and body development was done in conjunction with the all-new 7 Series. As a result, the "5" is more grown-up, with a wheelbase (116.9 inches) reportedly the longest in the 5 Series segment. The proportions and overall impressions (which, according to BMW, include a "charismatic front, elegant side.and muscular rear") of this new 5 Series aren't radically different, but if you liked the smaller footprint of the previous iteration you might wish to wait for the next 3 Series (coming to the U.S. in the first quarter of 2012) – it is also "more grown-up." The Gran Turismo has more, shall we say, controversial looks. Big, bulbous, and with slightly higher ground clearance than the sedan, it's not exactly anonymous. Whether the GT is a beauty or a beast will be up to how you see it.
Although the product team behind the 5 Series continues to move the sedan up-market (and its pricing upscale), we're encouraged by the high-end spec of the 5 Series chassis. Twin-tube gas-pressure shock absorbers, 4-wheel vented disc brakes (with composite front rotors) and electronic limited-slip differential speak to BMW's performance intent, while a driver-centric cockpit design will better reflect the driver's intent. On the ground, run-flat all-season tires make the spare tire (and its added weight) unnecessary, while in the 528i a standard 8-speed automatic transmission makes shifting unnecessary.
We continue to like sport sedans that are "sporty," and BMW works to differentiate its mid-size sedan from others – notably Audi, Mercedes-Benz and (to a lesser extent) Cadillac – with a range of options designed to enhance handling and performance. At the top of the performance heap is the M Sport Package. At a suggested retail of $4,800 you can equip your 2012 5 Series sedan with 18-inch double-spoke wheels with performance run-flat tires, Dynamic Damper Control, an aero kit, multi-contour seats, an M steering wheel and a limited, albeit performance-oriented, color palette. There is also a less comprehensive Sport Package, as well as the option of a 6-speed manual on the 535i and 550i.
Variety, thy name is 5 Series. With the 2012 introduction of a new 4-cylinder turbo, BMW offers a "holy trinity" of powertrains. And that which is the most compelling, the 2.0-liter four is also the least expensive. It delivers 240 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque and 32 mpg in the EPA's highway cycle. In short, what's not to like? Perhaps the lack of an available manual transmission with the turbo four, but that absence can't last forever; the rumble for its return starts right now. The turbocharged inline-six has, of course, its fans, while the 4.0-liter turbo V8 seems – in a still-funky economy – a tad too much.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg (manual, RWD), 20/30 mpg (automatic, RWD), 20/29 mpg (automatic, AWD), 20/28 (Gran Turismo, RWD), 18/27 (Gran Turismo, AWD)
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
400 horsepower @ 5,500-6,400 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (manual, RWD), 17/25 mpg (automatic, RWD), 16/24 mpg (automatic, AWD), 15/22 mpg (Gran Turismo, RWD & AWD)
By Gregcthekid on Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,700overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice driving"
Cons: "Poor reliability. Unacceptable service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I bought this car brand new and when I brought it to the dealer for the first oil change they found that the transmission was leaking. It was leaking out of the case and needs to be replaced. This car has 7700 miles on it . The car has been in the shop for 3 weeks Still no transmission The ECD for getting a transmission is 9-1 14. I will never buy another BMW. This car will go up for sale as I get it back. It will be close to a month that its been in the shop"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By IWCD38 on Thursday, July 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I recently bought the 2014 550i X-drive. I previously had a current generation 750. The lighter weight and extra 45 HP make for an unbelievable driving experience."
10 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By LB on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,700overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Simply a fun car to drive."
Cons: "Navigation system does not display speed limit."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Purchased new. Three years and 30,000 miles later, this car is absolutely the best moderately priced sport car on the road. Have recently driven a Porsche Cayenne Turbo for one week and could not wait to get back into my BMW. Responsiveness and handling are tops. BMW could put a few more luxuries inside such as A/C seats and tire monitoring system that tells the air pressure."
21 people out of 42 found this review helpful
By Usmcmal on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Truly the ultimate driving machine"
Cons: "rear seat room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Terrific -- it's the 5th BMW I've owned. However, rear seating is not adequate (foot room) and function control wheel is very complicated to use. I'm certain there are many functions I don't use/understand. Turbo much quicker than a similar 528i, even if only 75 hp more. If you like music, be sure to upgrade radio/CD system as the standard one is sub-par and I'm not prepared to have an upgrade installed at the dealership for $4,500-$5,000. If you find one already installed by the factory, it only costs an additional $800-$1,000, Also, I'm very lucky to have found this used, spotless 2013 535i 4 wheel drive with only 9,500 miles on it! I think the ride is far superior to a similiar Mercedes Benz."
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Talkingbeer on Sunday, May 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive; fast; dependable; perfect int. room"
Cons: "Nothing noted; I-Drive over-complicated"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have a 2013 BMW 535i, loaded -- M PKG, lease, had it for 15 months. - Love it; fun to drive; fast;"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Chris on Monday, March 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good compromise car"
Cons: "Horribly soft wheels"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Watch the potholes! As a former M3 driver, the 5 series M-Sport is a great compromise car for running the family around while retaining the ability to engage in spirited driving. Unfortunately the 19" wheels bend far too easily. Had two wheels straightened in 3 months of winter driving. Car looks great. Plenty of power at 300 hp for the 535. Went with Xdrive for practicality. If you live in a climate with snow, opt for the 18" wheels, or buy a 911 for fun, and a Wrangler for winter."
23 people out of 33 found this review helpful