New Car Reviews

2011 BMW 535i – Four Seasons Update – July 2010

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

Months in fleet: Three
Miles to date: 6023

On its third week in the office, the BWM 535i went on its first road trip (not counting the 638-mile journey we undertook from New Jersey to bring it to Ann Arbor). Creative director Kelly Murphy took the new 5 to Chicago for the weekend.

“The front passengers have plenty of room, and space in the back is ample, and the seats are very comfortable,” he reported. “The trunk was able to hold a ton of gear.”

“The GPS was flawless, although I had to learn to trust it. We were warned repeatedly about upcoming traffic and given plenty of time to bail on the original route. But I ignored the car’s suggested alternate and soon enough we were stuck in traffic. Frankly, I was a little insecure at the thought of exiting the freeway, in a brand-new luxury car, and heading into a neighborhood where the police were hog-tying two men. I think I could almost hear the car saying, “Told you so!” Next time, I will listen to the GPS and respond to its orders with a big, “Yes, ma’am!”

After turning heads on the freeway, the 535i continued to impress in the Windy City. “I had to valet park at the hotel, and the four days we were there, the 535i was parked next to the valet stand, beside two sports cars.”

While Murphy’s drive out had for the most part been a relaxing cruise, his return trip home was not. “Mother Nature dished out some rains, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since my days of living in Miami,” he said. “The BMW held the road as if it were dry. The windshield wipers flapped as fast as they could but the rain was almost too much. The road was nearly impossible to see, but the headlamps lit up the reflectors well beyond what was visible through the muck.”

Back home, senior web editor Phil Floraday ruminated on the value proposition of a highly optioned six-cylinder 5-series. “I worked at a different car magazine several years ago, when the previous 535i came out, and we had one in our office. It was loaded to the gills and the sticker price was nearly $70,000. The editor-in-chief went on a rant about how nobody in his right mind would pay $70,000 or a 5-series with a six under the hood,” he recalled. “But I see no reason to spring for a V-8 when the 300-hp turbo six is available. The fuel economy is spectacular, the response is very strong, and you save $10,000 over the V-8.”

With the 535i still just settling in at 120 East Liberty Street, there are sure to be more road trips — and more powertrain discussions — ahead in the next few months.

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