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 Arien on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This M-sport 528i xDrive is my favorite BMW so far. Went with Jet Black and Ivory Nappa Leather, Cold Weather, Harmon Kardon, Black Kidney Grills, Carbon Fiber Spoiler. When you put it in sport mode you forget it is a 4 cylinder! Very quiet!"
3 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Weber on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great looker, comfortable ride, fun to drive"
Cons: "Not sure of long term reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am just about 30 months into my 36 month lease. The car has been absolutely great. The only issue was a blown fuse in the 12v outlet. No big deal. The fit and finish are excellent. I really do not have any issues with the run flat tires from a ride point of view. Would much rather have a spare tire though. Because of the expense to maintain and service this car out of warranty I will not purchase it off lease. I am struggling with that decision only because I love the car. Everything I read is that they start having trouble after 4 years."
30 people out of 58 found this review helpful
By keith m on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,635overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "the car is perfect"
Cons: "it doesn't come with a refridgerator."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 535d used only had 13600 on it, I used to own a 535i. I decided to try the diesel, and low and behold , I did fall in love with it ,there is no nasty diesel smell, the acceleration is astounding, and the fuel mileage is more than I could have hoped for, I get around 23-24 in town , and 38-41 on the highway. I have every option except adaptive cruise. as for the run flat tires , I got rid of those and opted for a set of good year comfort assurance tires. they are rated at 80,000 miles, and I couldn't believe the difference that made. all in all its the best car I have ever owned, period."
32 people out of 53 found this review helpful
By carman on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "wickedly fast, comfortable, great cruiser"
Cons: "numb steering, run flat tires, no remote start"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been driving fast cars since 1964, including three prior BMW's. My 550ix is an incredible machine. It may just be the ultimate sports sedan "cruiser". It is absurdly quick and corners and brakes a lot better than the so-called critics contend. Moreover, it is extremely quiet, comfortable and well appointed. I believe that for most people, myself included, it has a nearly perfect blend of performance and real world road manners. Yes, the steering is not as crisp or engaging as I would like, and I am definitely not a fan of the run flat tires, but ,that said, I am very glad I chose it over the Mercedes E550 and the Audi A6. It costs a whole lot less than a comparably equipped Mercedes and while the A6 is a very nice car, it lacks the power of my 550ix. For people who want near "supercar" performance but who are not willing to pay the huge premium for a tricked out M5, Mercedes AMG or similar vehicle, I believe the 550ix is a great choice."
36 people out of 64 found this review helpful
By Laduce on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,532overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is great. The only drawback is the fact that it uses @ 1 guart of oil in 1200 miles. This is in spec. I knew the V8 twin turbo would not get good gas milage; @ 13 in city and 25 highway. Conering is good."
15 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Fustrated on Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"On the way home the car indicated it was in need of coolant. Luckily I was 5 minutes from the gas station. As I pull into the station the oil pressure indicator came on indicating that pressure was very low. I opened the hood and saw oil everywhere. I had to get the car to a location roadside assistance could tow it, which was less than a mile from the road I was on. The display now was indicating the power train was becoming problematic. The car dealer thinks I may need a multi thousand dollar power train overhaul. The car is less than 3 years old. I have 2+ years of payments remaining. Just spent almost $1,000 on a Co2 sensor. Not that this isn't bad enough, a year into having the car I noticed the interior black paint on some of the accessories began stripping away from my finger nails accidentally scratching it. I thought to myself that that was odd for such an expensive car."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful