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The BMW 5-Series has been the gold standard of luxurious midsize sedans for many years. With its mix of fine luxury appointments and driving characteristics that can bring a smile to even the most discerning of drivers, the 5-Series has rightfully earned its place as one of the best sedans in its class.
The current-generation 5-Series is offered in sedan and Gran Turismo (hatchback) body styles.
The 5-Series is slightly toned-down in terms of looks from the previous-generation. The result is sedan with a bit of elegance. The interior can be described as being luxurious, but with a bit of restraint. Leatherette or optional leather is paired with soft-touch materials and a variety of wood, aluminum and carbon fiber trim choices.
The standard 5-Series engine lineup is comprised five different models. The base is the 528i, which initially featured a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Newer 528i models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
Next is the 535i, which has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The 535d has a turbodiesel 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The ActiveHybrid 5 takes the 535i's engine and pairs it with an electric motor to produce 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.
Rounding out the 5-Series engine lineup is the 550i, which packs a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine pumping out 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes standard, while BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive is an option.
Standard equipment is quite generous, including a sunroof, Bluetooth, automatic wipers, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, BMW's iDrive interface, a full suite of air bags, stability and traction control and the BMW Assist telematics system.
Notable 5-Series competitors include the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The first-generation BMW 5-Series came to the U.S. in 1975 as the 530i. This model was powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. In 1979, the 530i was replaced by the 528i with 169 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed manual was available. 1980 saw a five-speed manual take the place of the four-speed.
1982 saw the second-generation 5-Series (E28) introduced. There were two models at the start of this generation; the 528e which has a 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine that was built for efficiency and the 533i which packed a 3.2-liter inline-six. 1985 would see the introduction of a diesel option (524td) and a more potent inline-six (535i). Two performance-oriented models would appear toward the end of the E28's life: the 535is and the M5. The 535is boasted sporty touches to the exterior and interior, along with changes to the suspension. Then there was the original M5, which has a 256 horsepower 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine that was built by BMW Motorsport.
1988 saw the introduction of the third-generation of 5-Series, known as the E34. The overall design was described as being a smaller BMW 7-Series. This model came with two six-cylinder engine choices and an available V8, along with the introduction of a wagon variant. This model had more safety equipment than most vehicles at the time, with two air bags and anti-lock brakes.
The forth-generation 5-Series (E39) debuted in 1997. Again it would be offered as a sedan and wagon, with similar engine choices to the outgoing model. Many consider this generation to be the high point of the 5-Series lifecycle, thanks in part to its impressive handling and modern look.
The fifth-generation 5-Series (E60) was introduced in 2003 and was received with mixed emotions. The design was very polarizing and caused many to criticize BMW for its exterior styling. This was also one the first BMWs to be fitted with the iDrive system. This system initially caused a lot of frustration due its confusing layout and control method, but became much easier to use over time. This generation continued to be offered with a range of six- and eight-cylinder engines, along with the option of all-wheel drive.