New Car Reviews

2011 BMW 535i – Four Seasons Update – May 2011

Long-Term 2011 BMW 5-Series Update: Spring 2011 ( 4 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

Months in service: 12
Miles to date: 29,617

As our last month with the 535i winds down to a close, we’ve been ruminating on the new 5’s place in the BMW firmament. It sits between the 3-series and the 7-series of course, but is it closer to one than the other, and if so, is that a good or a bad thing? Recently, two editors touched on that subject.

Starting us off is assistant editor David Zenlea:
“Driving the 5-series in the same week as two supercharged Audis (first an A7 and then an S4) leaves me underwhelmed by BMW’s turbo setup. Around town, it feels sluggish and lazy, even though it is in fact neither of those things when given room to stretch its legs. Audi’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, in contrast, works like an on/off button, providing instant torque regardless of your speed or gear. I’d blame it all on the 535i’s turbo six and eight-speed automatic, but last fall I sampled the eight-cylinder 550i with a manual and it felt no more energetic even if it was faster. The 5-series as a whole just is not an on-its-toes sport sedan. The Jaguar XF and Infiniti M, in contrast, have more eager powertrains, as well as quicker, more direct steering that allows you to at least imagine you could flick them into a corner if the mood calls. To be fair, the 5-series is no Lexus, but its deliberate and lugubrious disposition creates the impression of a slightly smaller 7-series rather than an overgrown 3-series. Of course, that might be what many buyers in this segment are seeking.”

Next up is associate editor Eric Tingwall:
“The chauffeur class of cars (BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8) has never done anything for me. Unless you’re a passenger in the back seat every day, they’re unnecessarily large. The newest 5-series, though, offers all of the desirable comfort attributes of the 7-series in a much more pragmatic package. Over an hour-long drive in our 535i, I was reminded of the impressive bandwidth of BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control. In comfort mode, the 5-series is an isolated highway cruiser. In sport mode, it is superbly connected to the road. The observation that the 5 is more 7-series than 3-series is wholly correct, but then something that weighs 4100 pounds isn’t engineered for hot laps. Vehicle size has a direct correlation with sportiness. The 5-series is less of a precision driving machine and more of a large, luxury sedan underpinned with dynamically minded hardware. And frankly, I think that’s what the buyers want more so than a puffed-up 3-series. The step up from a 335i to a 535i is $8000, but the 5-series feels as if every one of those dollars has been spent on refinement, comfort, and luxury.”

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