Recently redesigned, the BMW 5 Series gets two new models for 2013: the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 and the high-performance BMW M5. The 2013 BMW 5 Series now includes a dozen models, counting the variants with all-wheel drive.
The BMW 528i sedan is the entry-level model, with a potent 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Then there is the BMW 535i sedan, with the sweet 300-hp turbocharged inline-6; and the 550i sedan, with a whumping 445-hp V8. The four-door sedan bodies are the same, and they all come with a smooth 8-speed manual automatic transmission.
The 5 Series cars come standard with rear-wheel drive, but each is also available as an all-wheel-drive xDrive model.
Gran Turismo models ride on a wheelbase extended by four inches, with 2+2 seating behind a long hood and under a coupe roofline. The Gran Turismo come in two versions: 535i GT with the turbo I6 and 550i GT with the V8. Each is available with xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 combines the turbocharged 6-cylinder with a 54-horsepower electric motor to make an impressive combined 335 horsepower and deliver an unimpressive 23/30 City/Highway miles per gallon EPA rating. The electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery in the trunk.
The 2013 BMW M5 features a 560-horsepower V8. The 2013 M5 is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or 7-speed double-clutch paddle-shifting transmission. The new M5 is ready for the track, but we found that for anything more than a handful of laps it needs ceramic brake rotors, which are expected to be an option for the 2014 model.
The 2013 BMW 550i gets a big bump in power. The V8 in the 550i is up from 45 horsepower to 445 hp for 2013, with torque increasing by 30 foot-pounds to 480 pound-feet.
The luxury midsize 5 Series was redesigned for 2011, and the 528i got its powerful and efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for 2012. BMW's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine rivals Audi's 2.0-liter turbo.
All three BMW 5 Series sedans are chic, crisp and distinguished for their aggressive styling and driving character. For the most demanding sporting driver, they are big and heavy, but their excellent dynamics and agility make them assertively proactive and manageable when faced with the necessity of an emergency avoidance maneuver, making them excellent family sedans.
The 5 Series offers a comprehensive inventory of passive safety provisions, with multiple airbags and structural provisions that protect occupants in the event an impact occurs. The 5 Series models are substantial, well-engineered passenger cars, yet they are gifted with an exciting athleticism that keeps the driving experience engaging and pleasurable.
BMW's fourth-generation iDrive cockpit-management system is much easier to use than previous versions, but it is still not always intuitive or straightforward. With patience and a little insight, though, iDrive can get you what you want. The 2013 models get further streamlining and simplification to the navigation and infotainment programs. Other than that, 2013 changes to the 5 Series are all to the option packages.
The modular BMW interior is handsome and contemporary. Glowing tan and matte-black contrast handsomely on the dashboard, these surfaces punctuated by elegant swatches of exotic wood. Instrumentation is comprehensive and flawless. Gauges are about perfect to look at and read. Those who see themselves as having reached a certain level of luxury should be satisfied in this stylish cabin. Those whose standards of ergonomics and efficiency are high, might find compromised areas.
With minimal frontal overhang and muscular flanks that seem shaped by this car's dynamic forward thrust, the 5 Series never quite looks at rest. But driving excitement has always been BMW's stock in trade. And the 5 Series, whether in its spirited turbocharged four-cylinder 528i form, its smooth-as-glass inline-6 535i form, or its forceful, V8-powered top-of-the-line 550i, fully earns its reputation in motion. Even the ActiveHybrid 5 is powerful, accelerating from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. And the M5's performance is purely awesome.
For those susceptible to real driving enthusiasm, the 5 Series models seem to exhort you to drive them vigorously, confidently, with pleasure. Their over-the-road qualities, or at least the promise of them, are surely what motivate many BMW aspirants. That these roomy sedans also provide safe, sumptuous family transportation qualify them as a highly desirable mid-size entries.
The 2013 BMW 5 Series is available in seven models: BMW 528i with 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine ($47,500), BMW 535i with 3.0-liter inline-6 ($53,100), and BMW 550i with 4.4-liter V8 ($62,400). The BMW 528i xDrive ($49,800), BMW 535i xDrive ($55,400), and BMW 550i xDrive ($64,700) add all-wheel drive.
The BMW 535i Gran Turismo ($58,000) and 550i Gran Turismo ($67,500) add four inches to the wheelbase and feature a sleek coupe roof. The BMW 535i xDrive GT ($60,300) and 550i xDrive GT ($69,800) add all-wheel drive.
The ActiveHybrid 5 ($61,100) features the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine combined with a 54-horsepower electric motor.
The BMW M5 sedan ($89,900) makes 560 horsepower from its 4.4-liter V8, and comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission or 7-speed dual clutch automatic manual gearbox (same price).
The 528i comes standard with leatherette upholstery (vinyl), automatic dual-zone air conditioning with micron air filter, 205-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with 12 speakers, redundant steering wheel controls, pre-wiring for satellite radio and CD changer, iDrive, power moonroof, Bluetooth, wood trim.
Options include the Cold Weather Package ($950) with heated steering wheel, heated front seats, heated rear seats, retractable headlight washers. The Premium Package for 528i and 535i ($2,600) includes power tailgate, Comfort Access keyless entry, satellite radio with 1 year subscription, Dakota leather.
The Driver Assistance Package ($1,900) adds rearview camera, side and top view cameras, active blind spot detection, park distance control; the Luxury Seating Package ($2,400) upgrades to multi-contour front seats, front ventilated seats, active front seats; the Technology Package ($2,800) includes navigation system, real-time traffic information, head-up display, instrument cluster with extended contents, smartphone integration, online information services, BMW Apps; the Premium Sound Package ($950) includes satellite radio with one-year subscription, premium audio. New options for 2013 include the Bang & Olufsen sound system ($4500), and rear seat entertainment system ($2200).
The 535i comes standard with Dakota leather.
Safety equipment that comes standard on all 5 Series includes two-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags and curtain front-to-rear head protection, active head restraints, LATCH child seat mounts, three-point seatbelts with force limiters and front-seat emergency pre-tensioners.
Optional safety equipment includes a rearview camera with wide-angle view and tracking line; also a top view shows a full picture of vehicle surroundings; and side view monitors side traffic as viewed from front bumpers. Active cruise control adjusts speed to maintain safe interval to car ahead, with provision to stop the vehicle completely if required; collision warning indicates an imminent collision, primes the brakes for full stopping power, and will automatically apply the brakes. Active blind spot detection monitors safe lane reentry when overtaking another car; a visual signal and a recognizable vibration in the steering wheel provide further warning. Lane departure warning monitors lane markers; when a lane change begins and turn signals are not activated, the system warns the driver with vibration in the steering wheel. Automated headlights follow curves in winding roads, and automated high-beam controls switch high beams on and off as required when drawing close to another car or meeting oncoming cars up to 440 yards ahead. Adaptive brake light system flashes bright taillights when ABS is engaged or brakes are applied strongly. Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection provides early detection of objects and pedestrians in the night; warning is provided by the Control Display and is displayed on the inner surface of the windshield if equipped with head-up display. Head-up display delivers vehicle speed and other data without requiring a glance away from the road ahead.