NEW: The sixth generation of BMW's luxury sport sedan.
Noteworthy: BMW continues to emerge from the visual nightmare of its "flame surface" styling, with the 5-series being the latest beneficiary of skillfully resculpted sheetmetal, which is laid over a 3.2-inch-longer wheelbase. Below the surface, the 5 switches from a strut-type to a control-arm front suspension and electric rather than hydraulic steering assist; there's also optional four-wheel steering. Straight sixes still feature prominently, powering the 528i (3.0 liters, 240 hp) and the 535i (3.0-liter turbo, 300 hp); the 550i uses a twin-turbo V-8 (4.4 liters, 400 hp). The last two models still offer a stick shift or an eight-speed automatic; the 528i is automatic only. The mile-long list of options can make the 5-series as luxurious -- and expensive -- as a 7-series, with which it shares many parts and styling cues. One thing you can't get is the 5-series wagon, which is no longer offered to Americans, as BMW thinks we'd rather have the 5-series Gran Turismo. BMW should think again.
On sale: Now
BASE PRICE RANGE: $45,425-$60,575
Specs: 3.0L I-6, 240 hp, 230 lb-ft; 3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft; 4.4L twin-turbo V-8, 400 hp, 450 lb-ft; rear- or 4-wheel drive
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There's a lot to be said for design that doesn't need to be explained.