The latest 5-Series will offer one eight-cylinder and three six-cylinder gas engine options. Two diesel six-cylinder models will also be available in certain Europe, with the most fuel efficient version being the 47 mpg (U.S.) 520d.
The 258 horsepower 528i will be the entry-level model in the U.S. The range-topping 550i model comes packing a 407 hp version of BMW's turbocharged V8. As expected, BMW's 306 hp turbocharged inline-six will be available in the 535i model. A 530d model is also available -- featuring a 245 hp diesel engine.
Fuel economy figures vary greatly to match the level of horsepower for each distinct trim level, but numbers begin at 28 mpg highway on the 528i, and drop to 22 mpg highway for the 400 hp 550i model.
The next-generation 5-Series features an eight-speed automatic transmission with an all-wheel drive optional -- denoted by an "x" followed the numeric model name. The new 5 will also have Park Distance Control and an around view monitor system, similar to Infiniti's Around View Monitor.
|BMW 5-Series offers high-performance driving capabilities|
As is typical of most recent BMW redesigns, this 5-Series adds some space between the wheels by extending the wheelbase nearly 10 centimeters and widening the track. The car's overall length has grown by less than 2 centimeters, while its height is slightly reduced and its width increased by a fraction. A set of 17-inch wheels are the smallest available with 18 and 19-inch wheels optional.
All 5-series sedans feature Active Roll Stabilization, which replaces anti-sway bars with electronically controlled pumps to maintain a level ride under nearly all conditions. To complement the Active Roll Stabilization system comes Active Steering, which uses electronic steering to supplement the stability controls acting on the wheel brakes and power.
Across this whole range, the sedan body is the same. With a length of just over 192 inches, the car is long enough to provide luxury-level seating and legroom in the rear and a reasonable amount of luggage space, but is short enough to be easy to drive and park.
On the interior, trim is a tasteful combination of wood and leather (optional on the 528i and 528 xi), with a variety of choices available. The dash is elegant, with few buttons, but dominated by a center screen that monitors all functions and provides vision for the optional navigation and new night vision systems. All of this is controlled with BMW's iDrive, which offers a one-knob interface that is loved by computer jocks and hated by many other reviewers.
Other optional technical gadgets include Lane Departure Warning, Heads-up display Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go-which does exactly what it says, managing the car's speed in stop-and-go traffic-and Sirius satellite radio, HD radio and an iPod connection.
Of course, the 5-Series offers a full range of passive safety features, including extended crumple zones, six air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction and dynamic stability control, BMW Assist with collision notification, and optional rear passenger airbags.