<strong>Months in service: Five
Miles to date: 13,437
After an all-too-brief time in New York State, the 535i was summoned back to the editorial mother ship in Ann Arbor. Associate web editor Jeffrey Jablansky was dispatched to bring the car home, and so the 5-series embarked on another New York to Michigan run.
Jablansky reports: "The 535i handled brilliantly through the hills of Pennsylvania. Unlike everything else I've ever driven on I-80, the BMW made the curves through the Poconos fun, as opposed to a chore.
"The infotainment system is a breeze to use, but Audi's MMI makes audio functions a lot easier. The iDrive had difficultly understanding my voice commands. I thought I'd lost most of my heavy New York accent, but perhaps not. Word is that this particular 5 was to be sent to California, so maybe the problem was that I didn't preface each command with, 'Dude.'"
Despite that issue, he gives the 535i high praise as a long-distance touring. "We might be in possession of the ultimate road trip car," he says. "It looks like a 7-series, but it has the fuel economy of a Mini Cooper. It's quiet, efficient, faster than anyone truly needs, spacious, elegantly styled, has amazing front seats, and requires only infrequent refueling."
Back home in Michigan, the car spent a weekend with West Coast Editor Jason Cammisa, who also packed on the miles. "I put 488 miles on the 535i this weekend, with four passengers on board. We averaged an indicated 25.7 mpg overall-pretty spectacular considering all the full-throttle acceleration runs I did to convince everyone that six cylinders is more than enough in a 5-series. In fairness, it only took one run to 100 mph to shut them up for good. The others were just for my own enjoyment."
Like other road-trippers, Cammisa had praise for the seats, pronouncing them "10-hour comfortable, front and back." Unlike Jablansky, though, he had no issues with the voice recognition system. "I absolutely love the voice recognition," he said. "No matter how strange the street name, the system got it. And I love the fact that, unlike with Ford's SYNC, you can speak the address normally without having to make a separate entry for house number, street, city, state, et cetera."
One problem area has cropped up, and it has to do with the chassis. Our 535i has the sport package, and its firm suspension tuning is causing the front tires to take a real beating on Michigan's crumbling roads. After only 10,000 miles, the front tires are shot, with multiple bulges where the bands have failed due to hard impacts; there's also evidence of wheel damage, and the tires are wearing unevenly, due, we suspect, to the suspension bottoming out and knocking the front end out of alignment.
Looks like new tires are in order, because this BMW has a lot more road trips ahead of it.
2011 BMW 535i Sedan
Base price (with destination): $50,475
Price as tested: $65,425
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
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
Adaptive brake lights
Options on this vehicle:
Dynamic handling package -- $2700
Electronic damping control
Active roll stabilization
Sport package -- $2200
19-inch alloy wheels
Sports leather steering wheel
Navigation system -- $1900
Premium package -- $1800
Driver assist package -- $1750
Automatic high beams
Lane departure warning
Active blind spot detection
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
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
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