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Redesigned for 2011, the sixth-generation 5 Series offers a longer wheelbase, better fuel efficiency and more conventional styling than its predecessor. Available in 528i, 535i and 550i trims, the 5 Series sports a new twin-turbo V-8 (550i) and single-turbo six-cylinder (535i), with eight-speed automatics available across the board. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Infiniti M.
High-tech options include BMW's Adaptive Drive system, a self-parking feature and lane departure and blind spot warning systems. When it hits dealerships, the 5 Series will come as a rear-wheel-drive sedan; expect all-wheel-drive variants and eventually a high-performance M5 to follow.
For 2010, BMW introduced the 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback.
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Sharing its platform with the recently redesigned 7 Series, the 5 Series' wheelbase has been extended about 3 inches. It now leads its class, BMW says. Up front, the car's signature kidney grilles sit lower and lean more forward. The outgoing 5 Series' eyebrow-laced headlights have been toned down; the eyebrows are still there, but they don't extend as far back toward the front wheels. Adaptive xenon headlights are optional on the 528i and standard elsewhere. The taillights employ three rows of LED lights, and BMW's Adaptive Brake Lights illuminate a larger section under hard braking.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels go on the 528i; the 535i and 550i get 18s. A Sport Package adds larger wheels and summer performance tires.
Drawing cues from the 7 Series, the 5 Series' climate-control readouts use BMW's Black Panel technology to appear out of dark panels without the brightened look of traditional electroluminescent displays. Traditional console-mounted cupholders replace the ones that flipped out of the dashboard. Get the optional navigation system, and the dash gets a massive 10.2-inch center display with PC-like 1280-by-480 pixel resolution. Without navigation, the display still sorts through various audio and setup menus, but it shrinks to a 7-inch display and 800-by-480 pixel resolution. Both setups incorporate BMW's iDrive system.
Standard features include 10-way power front seats and a power tilt/telescoping steering column. A 60/40-split folding rear seat is optional.
Under the Hood
The 528i has a 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder, while the 535i gets a 300-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder. The 550i has a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 that makes 400 hp. All three use a new eight-speed automatic transmission; the 535i and 550i also offer a six-speed manual.
BMW's Adaptive Drive system comes with the Sport Package. It includes Active Roll Stabilization, which attempts to actively counter body roll, as well as an adaptive suspension and customizable settings for both the drivetrain and suspension.
Optional Active Steering varies the steering ratio to render easier turning at low speeds and stable handling at high speeds. Toward those ends, the system also alters rear-suspension geometry to effectively steer the rear wheels a few degrees, depending on the situation. Optional adaptive cruise control, meanwhile, now includes full stop-and-go capabilities to manage heavy traffic.
Standard safety features include front-, side-impact and side curtain airbags. Active head restraints, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are also standard. Blind spot and lane departure warning systems are optional, as is adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system.
5 Series Gran Turismo
For 2010, BMW added a hatchback version of its rear-wheel-drive 5 Series, dubbed the 5 Series Gran Turismo, starting with a 550i "GT" powered by the same 400-hp, twin-turbo V-8 as the 550i sedan. It was followed in the spring by a 535i GT that employs the 535i sedan's 300-hp, turbocharged six-cylinder. Both have eight-speed automatic transmissions. With the Gran Turismo now in the U.S. market, BMW no longer plans to import the 5 Series wagon.
The Gran Turismo sports a restyled interior and a streamlined exterior, both with cues from BMW's recently redesigned 7 Series flagship. With its steeply raked hatch ending in a short, sedanlike trunk, the Gran Turismo measures about 6 inches longer than the 5 Series sedan. The hatch opens in two sections: The entire hatch can be raised, or a section below the rear window opens separately to reveal a trunk behind the rear seats and below a cargo cover. The area offers 15.5 cubic feet of cargo volume, a bit less than the 2011 sedan's 18.4 cubic feet and the outgoing 2010 5 Series wagon's 17.7 cubic feet. For additional storage capacity, the seats fold down in a 40/20/40 split for a total of 60 cubic feet, beating the wagon's maximum volume of 58.3 cubic feet.
The Gran Turismo can accommodate four or five, depending on the backseat configuration. Though it carries the 5 Series name, this model shares as much with the larger 7 Series, so many of its measurements, including all seating dimensions, differ from those of the 5 Series sedan.
The Gran Turismo's interior features include the 7 Series' Black Panel gauge and climate displays, which incorporate BMW's traditional gauge themes into an electroluminescent display. A next-generation iDrive system, already used across various other BMW models, offers better screen resolution and more shortcut keys than its predecessor. Back to top
Select up to three models to compare with the 2011 BMW 550 Gran Turismo.
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