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 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."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Born to be Wild on Friday, March 14, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "cachet name"
Cons: "bland interior, mediocre performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I was in the market for a an upscale midsize sports sedan so I test drove the BMW 5281 2013. Stepping into the car I was underwhelmed. for a $50,000 car it was so Spartan with its uncomfortable synthetic leather seats and simple dashboard design but it is a BMW so I agreed to drive it. I had earlier driven the Tesla and Infiniti M37S and made some comparisons while driving. The Tesla S was smoother than the BMW and the Infiniti had a gorgeous interior and clearly out handled (0-60 in 5 seconds) the BMW. IMHO, I think the BMW 5281 is a good car as Consumer Report gave it 82 points but they also gave the Infiniti M37 93 points and Tesla its highest score at 99 points. I won't tell you which car I bought but I certainly didn't spend $50,000 on a 5 series with vinyl seats. If you want something more than a Cachet name then do some reading and then do some driving..... its the only way to buy a car :}"
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By GREENWICH on Thursday, March 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "GAS MILEAGE NOT AS ADVERTISED, BMW SERVICE A JOKE."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"GOOD LUCK HAVING THIS CAR TOWED. THE TOW TRUCK DRIVER HAS TO CRAWL UNDERNEATH IT TO PUT IT IN NEUTRAL. HE TOLD ME HE WOULD NEVER DO THAT ON THE HIGHWAY SO YOU RISK DAMAGING YOUR TRANSMISSION WHEN THEY LOAD IT. FYI RUN FLAT TIRES SOUND LIKE A GREAT IDEA BUT ARE $300 TO REPLACE EACH TIME YOU HAVE A FLAT. THE BMW SERVICE CENTER TOOK TWO WEEKS TO GET A MUFFLER PART FROM GERMANY AND THEN TOLD ME IT NEEDED ANOTHER PART THAT WAS BACKORDERED TWO MONTHS! WHEN I COMPLAINED THEY SUGGESTED I JUST DRIVE IT WITH THE DAMAGED MUFFLER. I'M PAYING $1000/MO FOR THIS BAD SERVICE? THE DEALER COULD'T CARE LESS AND WOULDN'T GET INVOLVED. I'M GOING BACK TO MERCEDES."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By WanderLuster on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Not reliable
Pros: "Great handling, nice features"
Cons: "Not reliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I didn't think I could ever drive anything but a Bimmer. The handling, ride, and features of BMW are great- when they're working. My 535i had electrical issues, brake squeaks that could never be resolved, and spent significant amounts of time in the shop for warranty work. The run-flat tires caused the sensors to alert frequently (temperature variations, etc.) The last straw was when the car completely shut down WHILE DRIVING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Fun fact, there's no easy way to put a BMW into neutral and push it out of a busy roadway after the electrical system shuts down. Mind you, the car was only about 20 months old. It was ridiculous driving a beautiful new BMW and having squealing brakes at every stop, which the dealer never resolved and even tried to blame on the way I was braking."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By UDM on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast, great looking, all the creature comforts"
Cons: "Weight, run-flat tires, steering and Nav"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love almost everything about this car, and it is certainly one of the best 4-door sedans in its class ever made. I prefer light colored exteriors (look good even a week after they're washed), and lighter interiors with good contrast (easy to see how absolutely incredible the BMW interior is), which can be a bit hard to find on these cars. I found a white one with the Oyster on Black interior which looks fantastic. The Beauty: To start, there is not a better looking sedan on the road, IMHO. The styling says class while retaining the strong, aggressive stance that BMWs are known for, and avoids the over-styling of many of the Japanese and American makes. The seats are some of the best in the business (make sure and get the sport buckets!), and the interior appointments are driver focused but make passengers feel like welcomed guests. The Beast: 450 lb-ft of torque matched to one of the smoothest 8-speeds in the business. It needs to be in Sport mode to really get a sense for what this car can do. With loads of torque to spare, the drivetrain gets this 4,600 pound beast moving 0-60 in about 4.5 seconds (yes, the xDrive is 0.3 faster than the RWD!). You won't see many cars on the road that are faster. Even a late model Carrera with a stick will have to hit every shift just right to take this car. And they can't take their friends to lunch in that little coupe. My only beefs with the car? 1) Too heavy makes it less responsive than it could be, so-so on gas, and bad on tires and brakes 2) run-flat tires (uugghhh) 3) Connection to the road a tad numb (the suspension is ok, it's the steering that is most wanting) and 4) the Nav system is a bit clunky (just get Google maps and/or iOS in there!) Still, this is the best sedan on the market IMHO - good enough to keep a smile on your face everyday - and that's how much you will want to drive it. It is a near perfect balance of power, comfort and styling. And hey, if there weren't any flaws, I wouldn't have an excuse to upgrade in a few years. :)"
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By windsor1888 on Friday, January 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Back seat! Style, features"
Cons: "GPS, mechanical issues,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this car for about 5 months bought it as a CPO with 14K miles on it. It has had some mechanical quirks -which have required multiple trips to the shop. The car is a head-turner, reading the reviews on line I expected people to tell me how much they hated it but in fact most people say that they love it. It fits the child seats in the back seat very nicely -there is much more room in the back seat than my old 2001 5 series. The sport mode is my favorite to drive in. We have been able to take it on 2 road trips -both times it handeled the weekend luggage and kept us all very comfortable on the ride. I'm going to get a cargo liner for the rear compartment, and I had the windows tinted - I'm hoping the mechanical issues settle down so I can truley enjoy the car."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful