2009 BMW 535

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Key Specs

of the 2009 BMW 535. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    19-21 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    300-hp, 3.0-liter I-6 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • 300-hp, twin-turbo six-cylinder engine
  • Handling potential

The Bad

  • Complex iDrive operation
  • Marginal rating in IIHS side-impact crash test
  • Reliability history

Notable Features of the 2009 BMW 535

  • Google Maps search function
  • RWD or AWD
  • Sedan or wagon
  • Up to eight airbags
  • Lane departure warning

2009 BMW 535 Road Test

David Thomas

In the world of luxury station wagons, there isn't much sense in trying to justify the price tag. Normally, a wagon is a practical body-type choice for families looking for utility with improved mileage versus a similarly sized SUV. If, however, you're shopping the all-wheel-drive 535i xDrive or its competitors — the Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon — you clearly have an entirely different set of priorities.

Those probably include a high level of luxury, features, performance and, yes, some utility thrown in. This BMW 5 Series wagon provides plenty of each and elicited raves from our staff, my family and even me. It's hard to fathom why anyone would purchase a $55,000-$75,000 station wagon, but if you're going to, it would be hard to go wrong with this one.

The 5 Series wagon comes only in all-wheel-drive 535i xDrive form. Its sedan counterpart can be had in all-wheel or rear-wheel drive, 528i, 535i or 550i configurations; the 528i and 550i are covered separately in Cars.com's Research section. Click here to compare the whole lineup.

 

Performance
What sets the BMW 5 Series wagon apart from the A6 and E-Class is the way it drives. Sure, its looks scream BMW inside and out, but so does the sweetly smooth acceleration coming from the twin-turbo six-cylinder under the hood. In today's horsepower-heavy world, where cars of all classes frequently top 400 hp, the 535i's twin-turbocharged 300 hp doesn't sound very impressive, especially when you ...

In the world of luxury station wagons, there isn't much sense in trying to justify the price tag. Normally, a wagon is a practical body-type choice for families looking for utility with improved mileage versus a similarly sized SUV. If, however, you're shopping the all-wheel-drive 535i xDrive or its competitors — the Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon — you clearly have an entirely different set of priorities.

Those probably include a high level of luxury, features, performance and, yes, some utility thrown in. This BMW 5 Series wagon provides plenty of each and elicited raves from our staff, my family and even me. It's hard to fathom why anyone would purchase a $55,000-$75,000 station wagon, but if you're going to, it would be hard to go wrong with this one.

The 5 Series wagon comes only in all-wheel-drive 535i xDrive form. Its sedan counterpart can be had in all-wheel or rear-wheel drive, 528i, 535i or 550i configurations; the 528i and 550i are covered separately in Cars.com's Research section. Click here to compare the whole lineup.

 

Performance
What sets the BMW 5 Series wagon apart from the A6 and E-Class is the way it drives. Sure, its looks scream BMW inside and out, but so does the sweetly smooth acceleration coming from the twin-turbo six-cylinder under the hood. In today's horsepower-heavy world, where cars of all classes frequently top 400 hp, the 535i's twin-turbocharged 300 hp doesn't sound very impressive, especially when you consider how heavy a car this is — 4,101 pounds — but it's still lighter and more powerful than the A6 and E350.


It also has a superior engine in terms of refinement. The six-speed automatic features a manual setting, but rest assured that even in plain old Drive, the 535i wagon transmission shifts flawlessly and will deliver enough thrills for most drivers.

BMW is notorious for heavy-handed yet precise steering. The 535i features what BMW calls Active Steering, which happily takes away a lot of the labor involved in turning the car during low-speed maneuvers, like navigating parking lots. It isn't as heavy as its sibling X3 crossover I tested the week prior, and during high-speed driving the steering wheel feels incredibly natural and intuitive — like a good sports car's.

The steering was probably the most surprising performance aspect, because you don't expect such a long, large wagon to carve corners like this one did. No, it isn't a sports car, nor is it an M3. But for a station wagon, it's near the top of the heap in terms of cornering and handling.

Even the ride was more comfortable than you'd expect, and it definitely felt smoother than the last two 5 Series sedans — a 528i and 550i — I've tested. (The latter one, to be fair, had a suspension-firming Sport package. The wagon did not.)

Exterior
The 5 Series is BMW's second-largest sedan, next to the 7 Series, and the wagon adds even more bulk. The rather large rump reminds me of more traditional wagons from the past, while competitors often try to make their wagons look as un-wagon-like as possible. Sure, the 535i xDrive may be frumpy in some regards, but it has elegant lines and a striking profile.

Interior
Where BMW has always done things right is on the inside. Sliding into the driver's seat — my test car had the optional contour seat package, a $1,200 option — is akin to being let into a room at the Ritz. The black dashboard is leather-trimmed with highly polished wood accents. The armrest is padded in thick leather, which feels great. The smell of new leather in a BMW is a favorite sensation, and it was still there even though nearly 5,000 miles had been put on the car before it reached my hands.

The steering wheel is nicely padded and it's heated. I drove in damp 40-degree weather most of the time I had the 5 Series wagon and loved the feature; it meant I didn't need gloves.

There are a number of ergonomic eccentricities BMW is for some reason holding onto. Cupholders pop out of the dash instead of sitting in the center console, meaning my coffee thermos or Diet Coke rests right above the stereo. The passenger's cupholder is better-placed, but both move more than you'd like, especially if you have a to-go coffee cup with an open top. Consider yourself warned.

You could also spill coffee on the new iDrive controller, which happens to be one of the few changes to the 2009 model. This latest controller adds a number of buttons encircling the main control knob so you can easily jump between audio, phone and navigation screens. I much prefer this setup, and now I'd say the iDrive system is as easy to use as similar systems from Audi and Mercedes. You couldn't say that last year.

Backseat room is very good, but you sit a bit upright and there's a large hump for the middle passenger to straddle. Parents will find plenty of room for child-safety seats and very easy-to-use Latch connectors with flip-up covers. In other BMWs, you have to remove the covers, greatly increasing your chances of losing them.

Cargo
In wagon form, the 5 Series is quite utilitarian. There are a lot of convenient features I appreciated during my time with it. Chief among them was the cargo cover that raised and lowered when you opened and closed the hatch. Normally I never keep cargo covers in place because they get in the way of loading groceries or other items when I'm running errands. Might as well not have a cover — except that they keep the sun out and keep everything covered from prying eyes.

BMW's solution is really simple and works flawlessly. The cargo cover also features a built-in net that attaches to the ceiling. These are generally used to keep pets safer in back, and also to keep them from drooling on your leather.

The specs for the cargo area come in at 17.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are in place and 58.3 cubic feet when they're lowered. That first number is far lower than the competition. The Audi A6 has 33.9 cubic feet, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has 24.4 cubic feet. The less expensive Volvo XC70 has 33.3 cubic feet. I must say, though, that those numbers really surprise me. Take, for example, the A6. It's 16 cubic feet bigger with the seats up, but only 5.5 cubic feet larger with them down, coming in at 63.8 cubic feet. Eyeballing the cargo area with the seats up, I don't think owners will notice such a significant difference between it and the 5 Series.

The Volvo XC70, on the other hand, is a considerably larger wagon in terms of interior and cargo space, both in terms of specs and my personal experience. What does this mean to luxury-wagon shoppers? Not much. Unless you're hauling large goods like antiques or boxes routinely, the 5 Series' space won't be a hindrance. Its everyday features should more than make up for the smaller area overall.

Features
The 535i xDrive starts at $55,800 and comes with a fair amount of standard features, like a panoramic moonroof, xenon headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. As with most BMWs, though, it's very easy to load it up with option packages and extravagant features. Our tester was loaded with so many it stickered at almost $74,000.

Leather seats aren't standard, leatherette is, but BMW adds leather in its Value Package, which comes at no extra cost and also includes an iPod and USB adapter, a heated steering wheel and heated seats. A Premium Package ($2,500) adds a power liftgate. The Sport Package ($1,400) includes comfort seats and black trim around the windows. An M Sport Package ($3,000) includes everything in the Sport Package plus 18-inch alloy wheels with run-flats, an exterior aero kit, a sport steering wheel, and unique paint and interior combinations.

There are a number of stand-alone options as well. The one I would seriously recommend is the comfort seats ($1,200). These feature a number of additional adjustments and are some of the best seats I've ever tested. Less necessary are the head-up display ($1,200) and night vision ($2,200). Both are intended to make driving safer, but are definitely not worth their cost.

Navigation is another $1,900, while a premium stereo is $1,200. Other safety features, like active cruise control ($2,400) and lane departure warning ($950) are nowhere near as useful as the park distance control ($750). Parking sensors have been around a long time, but BMW uses a very simple diagram on the center LCD screen that tells you exactly how close you are to objects while parking. Unlike backup cameras that distort your surroundings, this clear diagram takes even more of the guesswork out of tricky maneuvers.

As you can see, it's not that hard to get above the $70,000 mark.

Safety
Besides options like lane departure warning and antilock brakes, the 5 Series comes equipped with a suite of side curtain airbags and front-seat side-impact airbags. Rear seat-mounted airbags can be ordered as a $385 option.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the BMW 5 Series sedan, but not the wagon. Front and rear crash tests of the sedan received top marks of Good, while side tests produced Marginal ratings, which are second worst. This was because of specific damage to the driver's torso in the tests.

BMW 535 in the Market
The large luxury wagon is not the most sought-after segment in the auto industry, especially these days. The SUV has dominated this market, offering similar utility and space as wagons in a class where gas mileage matters little.

However, for those who want the sport-utility of a smaller SUV and the driving feel of a car, wagons are still quite appealing. If the driving experience is vital to your decision, you have to look at the 535i xDrive. Audi's A6 and Mercedes' E350 compete in terms of utility and price, especially now that the 2009 A6 has upgraded to a new supercharged engine that produces similar power as the 5 Series wagon.

For shoppers in this very limited segment, the BMW 535i xDrive is surely an ideal choice, but with the masses still choosing SUVs even today, I wonder how long any manufacturer will keep producing wagons, no matter how good they are.

Send David an email  

 


2009 535 Video

Cars.com's Dave Thomas takes a look at the 2009 BMW 535i xDrive Sport Wagon. It competes with the Audi A6 wagon and the Volvo XC70.

Latest 2009 535 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.2)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

Latest Reviews

(3.0)

Great When It Runs

by PoorXDriver on June 8, 2018

BMWs around this year have well known issues, mainly with their fuel pumps, that resulted in many recalls and extended warranties. Be very wary of this before purchasing and even if you have a ... Read full review

(5.0)

Excellent Car

by Aggb from Lawrence ma on March 27, 2018

Is a combination between luxury and Sport car, is a reliable vehicle that it will catch the attention of anny on de that look at it. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 BMW 535 currently has 4 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2009 BMW 535 has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by BMW

Program Benefits

Comprehensive inspection by BMW technician, 24/7 Roadside Assistance, BMW Assist. Exceptional vehicles with exceptional coverage

  • Limited Warranty

    Unlimited Miles for 1-Year

    BMW Certified Pre-Owned: Covers you for unlimited miles for 1-year, after the expiration o f the 4-year / 50,000 mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty for a total of 5 years with unlimited miles. This includes up to 5 years and unlimited miles of BMW Roadside Assistance and BMW Assist (TM) on many late model BMW vehicles. Additional plans are available to extend your vehicle's coverage for up to a total of 6 years with unlimited miles. See your BMW Center for details.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Comprehensive inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The 535 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker