2007 550 New Car Test Drive
The BMW 5 Series puts an emphasis on the driving. This mid-size luxury sedan remains a true sports sedan in any of its variations, including the 530ix wagon and other models equipped with all-wheel drive. Regardless of engine size or equipment level, the BMW 5 Series delivers lively acceleration, precise handling and outstanding brakes. It's available with a conventional manual transmission, which is increasingly hard to find in this class.
For 2007, the 5 Series offers two new options. BMW's Night Vision safety system uses a thermal-imaging camera to highlight pedestrians and animals on dark roads, while HD Radio is designed to bring CD-quality digital audio to radio broadcasts.
Now in its fourth year on the market, the styling of the current 5 Series models has become familiar, perhaps less jarring than it was when first revealed. And while there are no significant changes for the 2007 model year, the 5 Series is anything but stale. For 2006, BMW introduced new engines across the board, including a high-tech magnesium alloy six cylinder for the 525i and 530i and a larger, more powerful V8 for the 550i.
Behind its kabuki-eyebrow headlights, the 5 Series is a true driver's car, with more model choices than most cars in its class. Even the base 525i boasts spirited performance, with decent fuel economy to lower operating costs. The more powerful six-cylinder in the 530i matches some V8s, while the 550i delivers true high performance by any definition. The limited-production M5 can out-accelerate, out-brake and out-corner some expensive sports cars, with comfortable seating for five. There's a wagon for those who want more room for cargo. And BMW's x-Drive full-time all-wheel-drive is available for drivers in the Snow Belt.
This car has just about everything you could ask for in a luxury car. It has the features, comfort and convenience of full-size luxury sedans, the sporting character of smaller ones, and a good compromise between interior space and physical bulk. In many respects, it's the benchmark for critics and auto industry engineers alike.
As such, the 5 Series is loaded with technology, and some of its systems have a dark side. The i-Drive point-and-click control system, for example, takes time and energy to learn, and drivers who aren't willing to invest the energy, or those who just prefer to keep things simple, might want to look at a competitor. But those who place a premium on driving satisfaction should start their shopping here.
The BMW 5 Series sedans are available with six- or eight-cylinder engines or an ultra-high performance V10, and manual, automatic, or automatic-shifting sequential manual transmissions and optional all-wheel drive. The 5 Series Sport Wagon is offered only with a six-cylinder and all-wheel drive.
The 525i ($43,500) features a 3.0-liter inline-6 generating 215 horsepower. Standard features include Leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with active micro-filtration, an AM/FM/CD stereo with 10 speakers, 17-inch alloy wheels, four power outlets and a rechargeable flashlight in the glovebox. The 525i comes with a six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic transmission ($1,275) with Steptronic shifting.
The 530i ($47,500) gets a 255-hp version of the 3.0-liter six and xenon adaptive headlights. The 530i comes standard with the six-speed manual. The six-speed Steptronic automatic ($1,275) and the six-speed sequential manual gearbox ($1,500), or SMG, are optional.
The 525i and 530i sedans are available with BMW's x-Drive permanent all-wheel drive ($2,200).
The 530xi Sport Wagon ($52,100) comes standard with the all-wheel-drive system.
The most popular option for the six-cylinder models is the Premium Package for the 525i ($2,000 and 530i ($1,800), which adds Dakota leather upholstery, a universal garage door opener and the swanky interior lighting package with ambient light, auto-dimming and outside approach lighting.
The 550i ($58,500) is powered by a 360-hp 4.8-liter V8 and comes standard with the items in the Premium Package plus Park Distance Control parking assist and a choice of the manual, SMG or automatic transmission at no charge.
The M5 ($81,200) sits atop the 5 Series lineup. It's powered by a hand-built 500-hp 5.0-liter V10, with suspension and brakes enhanced to match all the power.
Option include: HD Radio ($500); Night Vision ($2,200); a Cold Weather Package ($750) with heated front seats, heated steering wheel and heated, high-pressure headlight washers; the Sport Package for the 525i ($2,500) and 530i and 550i ($2,800) with BMWs Active Steering and Active Body Control systems, 18-inch wheels with performance tires, more potent brakes and sport seats; and the Premium Sound Package ($1,800) with BMW's high-power Logic7 audio system and a six-CD changer; a navigation system ($1,800); radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200); and Sirius satellite radio ($595).
Safety features that come standard include front airbags with dual threshold deployment, front-passenger side airbags, and full-cabin curtain-style head-protection airbags. Also standard are seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters; seatbelts are the first line of defense in a crash so be sure to use them. Active safety features include antilock brakes with Dynamic Brake Control auto-proportioning, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control. Also standard is the standard BMW Assist communications package with automatic collision notification, an SOS button, roadside assistance and locater service. Rear passenger side-impact airbags are optional ($385).