New Car Reviews

2011 BMW 535i – Four Seasons Update – April 2011

Long-Term 2011 BMW 5-Series Update: Spring 2011 ( 3 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

Months in service: 11
Miles to date: 28,669

After nearly a year in our hands, one issue that continues to surface in the logbook is that some editors are having trouble making an emotional connection with the 5-series. Granted, our expectations are high. In the words of assistant web editor Donny Nordlicht: “This is a BMW 5-Series, not a run-of-the-mill $25,000 midsize sedan.” The car is a longtime enthusiast favorite. But many of the staffers here are not having the emotional response to the new 535i that we might have expected.

Senior online editor Phil Floraday has been chief among them. “Overall, the 2011 5-series is a very good car, but I have a hard time getting past its lack of personality and the unpredictable electronic throttle,” he says. Still, he wonders if “the 535i’s accomplishments seem less remarkable because the 5-series has been so good for so long that the baseline is incredibly high.”

Deputy editor Joe DeMatio posits that the new 5-series may be living in the shadow of its late-90s predecessor. “[That car] was such a quantum leap over the previous model and its competitors at the time that it still sticks in our minds as being incredibly brilliant.”

Despite this issue, the 535i has gotten more props for being a highway star. Nordlicht bonded with it over a 600-mile round trip to Toronto, pronouncing the big BMW “a fabulous highway cruiser”. Floraday’s assessment went further. “If you spend lots of time on the highway,” he wrote, “the 535i is about as good as it gets, thanks to the incredible fuel economy and instant power delivery. Plus, the huge infotainment screen has more than enough resolution to display a legible map as well as information about whatever is playing through the stereo.”

Although the 535i has undoubtedly convinced us with it highway demeanor, it has one more month to make a deeper connection.

2011 BMW 535i Sedan

Base price (with destination): $50,475
Price as tested: $65,425

Standard Equipment:
3.0-liter single-turbocharged DOHC inline 6-cylinder
8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and DBC
Dynamic stability control and traction control
Xenon adaptive headlights with auto-leveling and corner lights
Rain-sensing wipers
10-way power adjustable driver’s and front seat with memory
AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player audio system and HD radio
2-way power moonroof
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Automatic headlight control
Leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel
iDrive system with on-board computer
Vehicle monitor system
Cruise control
Adaptive brake lights

Options on this vehicle:
Dynamic handling package — $2700
Electronic damping control
Active roll stabilization
Adaptive drive
Sport package — $2200
19-inch alloy wheels
Sports leather steering wheel
Mulit-contour seats
Navigation system — $1900
Premium package — $1800
Driver assist package — $1750
Automatic high beams
Lane departure warning
Active blind spot detection
Parking assist
Convenience package — $1700
Comfort access keyless entry
Side and top view cameras — $800
Park distance control — $750
Deep Sea Blue metallic paint — $550
Rearview camera — $400
iPod and USB adapter — $400

Key options not on vehicle:
Active ventilated seat package — $2950
Cold weather package — $1050
Premium package 2 — $4900
Premium package plus:
Heated front seats
Power rear sunshade
Satellite radio
Night vision with pedestrian detection — $2600
Satellite radio — $350

Fuel economy, city/hwy/combined: 20 / 29 / 23

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected DOHC inline 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 300 @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1200-5800 rpm

Drive: Rear-wheel

Transmission: 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic

Unladen weight: 4090 lb

Wheels/tires: 19-inch V-spoke aluminum wheels; 245/40R19 94Y front, 275/35R19 96Y rear Goodyear Excellence performance run-flat tires

Competitors: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, Infiniti M37, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Cadillac CTS