By KBB.com Editors
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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)
We noted in our profile of the 2011 5 Series that the cost of any 5 is heavily dependent on which model you select. That cost is also heavily dependent on how you elect to equip it. As with virtually all German sedans – save, perhaps, VW's revised 4-door lineup – costs can escalate quickly once you start checking the option boxes. A random sampling revealed that a 2012 BMW 528i equipped with metallic paint, the Premium and Tech packages, keyless entry, side and top cameras (!), and destination came to over $54,000. And this is the MSRP (base $46,700 plus destination) of BMW's affordable 5 Series! All-wheel drive (xDrive) adds approximately $2,000, the 535i is over $53,000 and the 550i xDrive has a base MSRP of $64,000. GT versions start just under $58,000 for a 535i Gran Turismo with a 6-cylinder and rear-wheel drive to nearly $70,000 for an all-wheel-drive 550i xDrive Gran Turismo with a V8 engine. Whichever 5 Series you choose, bring big money or great credit.
By mike (GA) on Saturday, May 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Luxury and sport"
Cons: "Stereo sound not great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was looking for a mid-sized luxury sport sedan. Test drove Mercedes E550, Jaguar XF, Audi A6 and Lexus GS 460. Was open to buying any one of those. But, the BMW was just simply the best. Have had it 2 years and have had no problems to date. The only mild negative is the stereo sound. Its above average, but should be better. The best feature is just how perfect it balances luxury and sportiness."
By TYRONE (FL) on Sunday, May 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "I believe the safety features are good."
Cons: "Run flat, front bumper too fragile"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I almost hit someone in the REAR because I gently hit gas pedal and nothing happens. I press a little harder and the car takes off like a rocket. I am willing to bet that some day I will hit someone in the rear. Fo this reason, I would not recommend this car. By the way, I owned one (5 series) for 14 years and this was the reason I did not buy lexus. I wanted to stick with the evil I know. Hopefully, this wont be a little too much evillag, lag, lag"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Chick (CA) on Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive and gets good gas mileage."
Cons: "no complaints"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"this is my second bmw and it is a big improvement over my 2011 328 coupe. I love the responsiveness of the twin turbo 6 and the great gas mileage is a much appreciated bonus. My sedan is very nimble and corners without leaning. I think the design is superlative and the finish both inside and exterior is tops. I will definitely make my next car a BMW also."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Repeat owner on Saturday, April 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, safety, fuel economy, power"
Cons: "Automatic shutoff can be annoying."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fuel economy is amazing for this car ( 32+ highway). Turbo is seamless. Big improvement in run flat tires. I highly recommend the car if you are ready to spend nearly 60k."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By mutro (CA) on Friday, April 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "performance, comfort, interior/exterior design"
Cons: "none so far at 7,000 miles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was looking to complement my Boxster with a sedan that offered comfort and performance. After test driving the 2013 528i model, I decided I don't need to look any further. Acceleration-wise, its about the same or perhaps even faster than my Boxster; the BMW engineers have performed a minor miracle with this 2.0 twin-turbo engine linked to a 8-speed trans. And the 528i is extremely comfortable (added the optional lux seats and some other convenience options) and way more fuel efficient (29mpg combined city/highway so far with 7,000 miles) Granted, the Boxster engine sound is pure joy to hear vs the diesel-like sound coming from the 2.0 engine. But the sound-proofing keeps all engine and other noises out. As for handling and cornering, the Boxster of course is in a different class, but the 528i handling is not bad for a 5-seater sedan . My other favorite aspect is the interior: elegant, functional and well finished. Overall, a great car experience."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By jkmj (CA) on Monday, January 14, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: throttle tip in issue - My approximate mileage is 12,500
Pros: "looking great exteriror & interior"
Cons: "lag , lag and lag .. driving around town sometimes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"this lag i have to deal with daily. step on the gas gently car hesitates , too much it launches forward like in a drag race,"
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful