By Cars.com EditorsJuly 8, 2010
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2011 BMW 550i. It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6.
(upbeat music) <v Announcer>Cars.com auto review. (upbeat music) Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com. We're taking a look at the 2011 BMW 5 Series. It comes in six cylinder versions, the 535 and soon a 528.
But this is the top, the 550 with a twin turbo V8. Now the 2011 is a complete re-engineering and redesign, bringing some much needed changes to the styling. The previous generation had kind of a weird front end. The headlights had swoopy looking kind of eyebrows. Crazy stuff. This is much more handsome, but we actually have another problem with the headlights. There's this white stripe here that people don't like. I don't like it. Someone said it looks like film you're supposed to pull off after you buy the car. Someone else called it a milk mustache. Maybe in this case, more of a milk eyebrow. Now the feature called Driving Dynamics Control allows you to choose between comfort and sport settings using just a simple rocker switch. It used to be, you'd have to hit one button for the suspension, another one for a sport mode on the transmission. Here it just starts out comfort. You can go to normal, sport, and sport plus. One thing I really appreciate is if you don't want wood trim, which is standard, a little bit old fashioned for you, you can get the more contemporary brushed aluminum. And there's actually a lot of it. It is real aluminum. There's no doubt about that when you see it. For what it's worth, BMW is getting a little bit better about cup holders. Location wise, and size wise, this is a little bit more complex than it probably needs to be, but at least it's better for a German manufacturer. And there's a little key fob holder. I guess that's handy if you go to the valet. (upbeat music) Now complete redesigns are the automakers one chance to make big changes, like in interior space. The car is two inches longer overall, three inches more wheelbase. Unfortunately the interior isn't that much bigger, at least in terms of leg room. I've got the seat all the way back. I wouldn't mind a little bit more space here in front. One interesting thing in these sport seats is an additional backrest adjustment. Not only does the backrest tilt, but this rocker switch actually moves the top part forward and back. It's pretty neat. Now the backseat is a similar story. When you see a car get bigger on the outside, you at least want to see it get a little bit bigger on the inside. There's only 1/10 of an inch more leg room here in the backseat. Now it is workable. The front seat's all the way back in the position I had it in. My knees are raised a little bit. But we just tested the M sedan from Infiniti and it felt a little bit bigger. Now one improvement in terms of size is the trunk. This one's powered as an option. It's now 18.4 cubic feet, which is a big improvement over the 2010 model's 14 cubic feet. Now you can get folding backseats. Always good to have to extend the cargo area forward. What bothers me is, just like a lot of luxury cars, you have to pay almost $500 to add that feature that is free in $10,000 cars. It's maddening. The V8 engine is more powerful than it was in 2010, and there's an eight speed instead of a six speed transmission. So even though it's more powerful, you get better efficiency. Two miles per gallon better city, three miles per gallon better highway, for 17/25. Not bad for a car that does zero to 60 in about five seconds. Get more information on the driving experience in my full review at cars.com. (upbeat music) <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog, kickingtires.net.