BMW 5 Series
The 2013 BMW 5-Series is available with 4-cylinder 528i, 6-cylinder 535i or V8 550i models, as well as with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. 528I models include a turbocharged four making 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, with that peak torque achieved at just 1,250 rpm. The turbo six in 535i models makes 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft, while the twin-turbocharged V8 in the 550i generates 445 hp and 480 lb-ft.
Each of these engines are turbocharged, with direct injection and BMW's Valvetronic system, which can vary intake valve lift to both save fuel and aid responsiveness. Fuel economy ratings are an impressive 23 mpg city, 34 highway for the 528i and 20/30 mpg. Engine Auto Start/Stop also helps save fuel in stop-and-go driving by stopping the engine momentarily, then starting it smartly when you begin to ease off the brake pedal. An "Eco Pro" mode allows for more mindful driving, while a single Driving Dynamics Control selector lets the driver click between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes that coordinate throttle and transmission response, steering boost, stability-control intervention and in affected cars, the Dynamic Damping Control suspension (which helps combine a soft ride with crisp response when you need it) and Active Roll Stabilization (which reduces lean in cornering). Additionally, a system called Integral Active Steering is available and gives the 5-Series sedan a more nimble feel by steering--slightly--with the rear wheels.
While the 528i is the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup, those looking for green performance will want to look at the ActiveHybrid5, which pairs the 300-hp turbocharged 6-cylinder engine with a 54-hp electric-motor system and 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack; the hybrid system delivers its power through the 8-speed automatic transmission, and it accelerates to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds--in other words, it's just as quick as the 535i, only more fuel-efficient. EPA ratings for the ActiveHybrid5.
The M5, newly redesigned for 2013, continues to offer blistering on-road performance but adds several measures to improve fuel economy. It comes with a turbo-charged 4.4L V8 engine and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. 19-inch wheels and HID headlamps are standard, as is a high-performance audio system that includes both HD radio and a 6-disc DVD changer. Navigation, 18-inch heated seats and 4-zone climate control are also included. "Green" features include a brake-energy regeneration system to charge the battery only when the brakes are applied as well as an "auto-stop" feature to save fuel when the engine is idle.
The 5-Series lineup includes great seats in all variants; in front they're widely adjustable and especially good for taller drivers. BMW's iDrive screen-driven interface comes in all 5-Series models, and it's been improved in recent years with more intuitive, streamlined menus and controls.
BMW's 5-Series models have traditionally touted some of the most advanced safety-technology features in the business, and in this respect the latest models don't at all disappoint. Options on the lineup include active cruise control, a night vision system, a head-up display, a parking assistant and Driver Assistance packages bring lane departure warning with collision mitigation plus active blind-spot detection and multiple camera views.
Either through the Sport Package or through the M Sport Package, sport suspension is available as well as larger wheels, an M Sport steering wheel and an aero kit. A 15-speaker sound system is available as an a-la-carte option, but those willing to splurge will appreciate the awesome sound of the 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium system.
All 5-Series models include dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, power heated mirrors, xenon adaptive headlamps, dynamic cruise control, and other extras. All but the base 528i get a few additional upgrades, to Dakota leather plus power multi-contour front seats, hard-drive navigation, a rear-view camera and park distance control. Newly included this year is a multifunction instrument display that allows multiple gauge layouts depending on which Driving Dynamics mode is engaged.
There's no 5-Series wagon, but there is a 5-Series Gran Turismo (GT), which is a unique body style that's part wagon and part hatchback, with a somewhat taller seating position more like that of a utility vehicle. Back-seat space in the Gran Turismo is superior to that in the 5-Series sedan, with a better view outward, too, and a unique 2-piece tailgate and folding rear seats add more cargo versatility and convenience.