Skip to main content

2011 BMW 5 Series: Up Close

456274951 1425510896621 jpeg automatic-content-migration

The 5 Series amends much of its predecessor’s cutline-and-eyebrow styling. In my estimation, it looks as good as the beloved 1997-2003 E39 5 Series – all the reserved elegance of the 7 Series without that car’s pointlessly wide lower air dam. The taillights, in particular, are a job well done.

1849388963 1425510870765 jpeg automatic-content-migration

The cabin feels on the smaller side for a midsize sport sedan. The rear seats have long cushions and ample thigh support, but 6-footers will find legroom tight, particularly compared with the Mercedes E-Class’ voluminous backseat. Materials up front are good, though BMW’s penchant for businesslike austerity will distinguish the car from its Japanese luxury competition. (Even among the Germans, the 5 Series feels all business.)

1059273179 1425510870636 jpeg

Like in the 7 Series, the 5’s climate settings illuminate out of inky black surroundings that you’d otherwise mistake for some sort of trim piece. Behold, there are real cupholders below – not the sturdiest ones, but worlds better than the flip-out dashboard cupholders employed elsewhere in BMW’s lineup.

1382362164 1425510906538 jpeg automatic-content-migration

For some time now, the automaker’s electronic automatic shifter has never been my favorite. The new 5 feels more ergonomic, complete with a gathered boot at its base. Still, its operation imparts the same robotic sensation. God bless BMW for still offering a stick shift on the 535i and 550i, though. Here’s hoping it will be more like the short-throw unit in the Z4 and less like the rubbery manual in the outgoing 5 Series.

1529366401 1425510869423 jpeg automatic-content-migration 335564034 1425510866767 jpeg automatic-content-migration Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

Featured stories

honda civic hybrid 2025 exterior front angle 12 jpg
kia ev9 2024 rivian r1s 2024 01 exterior group front angle scaled jpg
bmw x2 m35i 2024 01 exterior dynamic front angle scaled jpg