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By Richard Truett
June 20, 1991
The 525i may represent the best value in BMW's lineup. It's one of the larger midsize sedans, and it comes equipped with just about every comfort and electronic gizmo you'll ever need or use in a car of this type. The 525i looks good, rides
well, performs adequately, handles superbly, conveys class and style and is priced fairly sensibly for a midlevel imported luxury car. ENGINE, PERFORMANCE The 525i sports a 168-horsepower, 2.5-liter SOHC in-line six-cylinder engine. Saddled with
the 3,440-pound sedan, the aluminum engine delivers relaxed, adequate performance. BMW quotes a 0 to 60 mph time of 11.2 seconds. That figures drops to 9.4 seconds on cars with the standard-issue five-speed transmission. The gold colored test car came
equipped with the optional ZF four-speed automatic. The engine is smooth and quiet and pulls strongly and consistently all the way to the 5,800 rpm redline. Shifts are well-timed and barely noticeable. For passing slower traffic, the ZF gearbox eases
into the next lower gear effortlessly. BMW has a high-performance image. That image tends to create the impression that all BMWs are stellar performers - the 525i is not. Those who crave BMW performance won't find it here and are likely to be
disappointed with the 525i. STEERING, HANDLING This is where the 525i really excels. The speed-sensitive recirculating ball-type steering is crisp and conveys just the right amount of feedback to the driver. Every BMW I have driven has had
tremendously powerful brakes. The 525i is no exception. It is equipped with anti-lock, four-wheel power ventilated discs. The pedal is firm and has little travel. It takes a fair amount of pressure to engage the anti-lock system, but once it kicks in, the
car stops quickly. Cornering is superb. The 525i is a sedan that drives like a sports car. It gladly will take any curve you can throw it into. There is never a protest from the tires, and the suspension system practically eliminates body roll. The
525i always stays balanced. The suspension is a four-wheel independent affair that utilizes up-to-the-minute technology. The ride is on the soft side of firm. Road noise seldom finds its way to the interior. Those looking to spice up the car's
performance to match its excellent handling characteristics might want to consider the 525i with a five-speed, or else spend a few thousand dollars more and opt for a 535i, which packs a more powerful engine. FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS You could argue
- quite correctly - that other luxury sedans with nearly the same equipment and better performance can be bought for thousands less than the 525i. But how will they look 10 years from now? I've seen some 10-and even 15-year-old BMWs with interiors
that look 2 or 3 years old. The leather seats, the headliner, the carpet and the door panels are made of first rate, top quality material.
I found the 10-way power adjustable seats to be a little too firm. That firmness, however, translates to an almost orthopedic level of support for the thighs and lower back. Long trips in the 525i aren't tiring. The switch layout is simple, though
the air conditioning and heating controls take a little studying in order to figure out how to set the climate to your liking. There is plenty of room in the rear for three adult passengers. The test car came equipped with a sunroof, and it didn't
steal too much headroom. Four golf bags easily will fit in the trunk. The lid extends to the bumper making loading and unloading easy. This BMW offers good value for the money, is a pleasure to drive, and should provide years of trouble-free driving.