BMW launched a slightly larger fifth-generation 5 Series midsize sedan for 2004. Trunk capacity and backseat space increased. A new weight-saving, all-aluminum front-end structure was used.
Three 5 Series models are available. For 2006, the 525 is equipped with a new 215-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder, and the 530 gets a more powerful 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder. BMW's V-8-powered 5 Series has a larger, stronger engine and is now known as the 550. Both the 530 and 550 are covered separately in the cars.com Research section.
An all-wheel-drive 525 joins the traditional rear-wheel-drive version for 2006. All 5 Series models now incorporate an engine start/stop button. Dynamic Stability Control gains brake-fade compensation, brake standby, brake drying and a start-off assist feature. Heated front seats are now available as a stand-alone option.
BMW offers quite an array of optional equipment for the 525, including Active Roll Stabilization, adaptive xenon headlights, run-flat tires, a head-up display and Active Cruise Control. Active Steering is available for rear-wheel-drive 525s. Adaptive brake lights and BMW's iDrive control system are standard.
The 525's styling follows on the heels of the company's controversial 7 Series but is subtler. Short overhangs and what BMW calls "lean-forward dynamics" highlight the design. Standard tires measure 17 inches in diameter.
A prominent twin-kidney grille provides a connection to BMW tradition. The grille is flanked by quad headlights inside luminous rings and beneath clear covers. The turn signals have clear lenses. Amber LED front parking lights are thin and wedge-shaped. The 525 incorporates BMW's traditional reverse kink at the rear door windows. The contemporary rear end features a high trunk lid. An aluminum suspension is installed.
Up to five occupants fit inside the 525 sedan. Leatherette upholstery and Dark Poplar wood trim are standard, but leather upholstery is optional. Both front occupants get a 10-way power seat adjustment with driver memory. Options include 20-way power front seats.
A variable warning segment in the tachometer activates at a lower rpm when the engine is cold. The three-spoke steering wheel holds multifunction controls. Rain-sensing wipers and a 10-speaker CD stereo with twin subwoofers are standard.
First installed in the 7 Series, the iDrive control system uses a 6.5-inch display screen. Either the driver or front passenger can operate the system's control knob atop the center console.
Under the Hood
The 525 uses a 215-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that develops 185 pounds-feet of torque. A rear-wheel-drive 525 equipped with the standard six-speed-manual gearbox can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, while the six-speed Steptronic automatic requires 7.6 seconds, which is about half a second quicker than the 2005 model. The automatic incorporates Manual and Sport modes.
Antilock brakes, a tire-pressure-monitoring system and Dynamic Stability Control are standard. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain-type airbags are standard, and rear side-impact airbags and active head restraints for the front seats are optional. Active Roll Stabilization is part of the Sport Package, and this technology yields flatter cornering.