BMW pumps more power and accessories into its 5 Series for 2008, replacing the 525i and 530i with the 528i and 535i. The 550i rounds out the 5 Series lineup.
Even though the U.S. doesn't get the torque-happy, fuel-efficient diesel versions European buyers enjoy, we do receive the 300-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter from the 335i. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in all 5 Series, and a six-speed automatic is available at no cost. In June, a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters will be available in the Sport Package for the 535i and 550i.
The 528i and 535i will be offered as wagons as well as rear-wheel-drive sedans; all-wheel-drive versions of the 528 and 535 sedans and the 535 wagon are also available.
When introduced as a 2004 model, the 5 Series received mixed reviews for its somewhat unconventional styling. There aren't any major exterior changes for 2008, just minor touch-ups to the front, rear and side skirts.
Most notable is a new horizontal separator that spans the lower grille, with fog lights at each end. The upper kidney-shaped grilles now sit flush with their surroundings.
LED turn signals are new to the front and rear of the 5 Series and feature clear glass housings instead of amber-colored capsules.
550i models have an optional Aero Package that looks almost as aggressive as the high-performance M5's exterior. A gaping front air dam, bulging side skirts and a sporty rear bumper push the 550i's looks as far as they can go before entering M5 territory (and price).
A new MP3 adaptor allows drivers to control their player using steering-wheel controls.
Under the Hood
The 528i's revised inline-six-cylinder engine produces 230 hp, up from 215. The 550i retains its 360-hp, 4.8-liter V-8.
In the 535i, the 300-hp twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine adds 45 hp and 80 pounds-feet of torque over the previous 530i's non-turbocharged engine. The new power plant is the same direct-injected 3.0-liter found in the 335i.
Electronic stability control, antilock brakes, and front and side airbags are standard; rear side airbags are optional.
BMW's lane-departure-warning feature sends a vibration through the steering wheel to alert drivers if their vehicle veers from a lane of traffic when the turn signal isn't used. An interior-mounted camera on the windshield monitors lane markings.