New Car Reviews

2011 BMW 535i – Four Seasons Update – August 2010

Long-Term 2011 BMW 5-Series Update: Summer 2010 Array Miles to date: 0

Months in service: Four
Miles to date: 9004

Two months after heading out to Ann Arbor from its corporate home in New Jersey, our BMW 535i made a return trip east to spend a brief sojourn in New York. Except for the direction, the eastbound trip was almost an exact repeat of Rusty Blackwell’s trip out, several months earlier, when he first picked up the car.

The eastbound trek was 652 miles, only 14 miles longer than the 638-mile New Jersey to Ann Arbor run. This time, we averaged 69 mph, compared to the previous 68 mph. Perhaps because the engine was more thoroughly broken in, on this latest trip the 5-series easily topped its previous performance of 29.9 mpg with a rather astonishing 31.1 mpg average (both figures from the onboard trip computer). For such a big, luxurious, and fast machine to top 30 mpg on the highway is a truly astounding performance. With the new single-turbo, 3.0-liter six delivering economy like that, it kind of undercuts the oft-repeated car magazine advocacy for more expensive, heavier diesel engines. And remember that, as it is, BMW already offers a more economical alternative, the normally aspirated 3.0 liter (in the 528i); it certainly wouldn’t be as fast, but might have done even better, since it’s EPA rated at 32 mpg highway, versus 29 mpg for the 535i.

Once in New York, the car spent some time with New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman. He writes: “For a jaded veteran like me, it’s all too easy to come up with reasons not to like a new BMW-they’re too heavy, the styling is increasingly anodyne, and the on-board electronics are too complex by half. While all these criticisms remain valid, I have to say I was won over by the new 5-series in spite of them, much in the same way I was smitten by the new Seven despite similar reservations. Ride and handling, as always, defy the inevitable rise in corpulence that seems to accompany each redesign from the Bavarians. But what really blew me away in more than 800 miles of driving was the fuel economy. Where have eight-speeds been all my life? Not only did I post a 31-mpg average on a high-speed jaunt up to Northampton, Mass., I managed an overall 25.1 mpg in driving that involved multiple trips commuting into and out of NYC. The figure was incredible-better than I’ve realized with many four-cylinders-even more so when you consider the vast reserves of horsepower and speed that can be readily accessed from the turbo six. It makes you wonder what would happen if BMW used all that genius to build lighter cars.”

Alas, the 535i has been called back to the home office, from which we’ll have another update next month.

2011 BMW 535i Sedan

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

Standard Equipment:
3.0-liter twin-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