2005 BMW 5-Series

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2010 BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo — Review

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2010.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

Luxurious, powerful, well controlled and roomy for passengers and cargo, the 2010 BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo is more pleasant and carlike on the road than any crossover SUV. It amounts to a 7-Series wagon at a lower price, though without quite as much high-end luxury.
Pros:
  • Luxury-car ride comfort
  • Ample passenger space
  • Useful cargo room
Cons:
  • High cost of entry
  • Awkward looks, especially from rear
  • Small rear window limits visibility

Imagine the ultimate vehicle, one that could be everything to everyone. It would have the willing power and precise handling of a sport sedan, the smooth ride of a luxury car, the passenger space of a limousine, the cargo room of a station wagon and the commanding seating position of an SUV. With the new 5-Series Gran Turismo, a unique hatchback sedan with a raised seating position, BMW is attempting to accomplish all of that. But does the car equal the sum of its parts?

Model Lineup
The 2010 BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo will initially go on sale with just one version, the 550i. A 6-cylinder trim, called 535i, will be available in the spring, as will an all-wheel-drive iteration. Standard equipment includes Dakota leather upholstery, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat and bulkhead, power tilt/telescoping steering column, 10-way power front seats, AM/FM/CD stereo, auto-dimming rearview and exterior mirrors, panoramic sunroof, xenon adaptive headlights, fog lights, BMW Assist telematics system, self-leveling rear air suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels on run-flat tires.

Options are abundant, with features such as Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, a rearview/side view camera, a navigation system, 20-way adjustable seats, Integral Active Steering with rear steering, a head's-up display, Night Vision with pedestrian detection, rear DVD entertainment, satellite radio and a 16-speaker premium audio system.

Standard safety equipment includes six airbags (front, front side and curtain side), a tire-pressure monitor, active front head restraints, Park Distance Control, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control. The brakes also come with Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Fade Compensation, Brake Standby, Brake Drying and Automatic Hold to prevent rolling backward on hills.

Under the Hood
Initially, the BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo comes with only one engine, a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which BMW says offers a 3 to 4 percent fuel-economy savings over a 6-speed. The vehicle also employs brake energy regeneration, which disconnects the alternator during acceleration and charges it during deceleration, thus yielding another 2 percent fuel-economy savings, according to BMW. All told, the 550i model is EPA rated at 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

The 535i will come with a new version of BMW's turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. This engine uses one twin-scroll turbocharger instead of two turbos and produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. It will use the same 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will also be offered in spring 2010. Fuel-economy ratings with the six and AWD are not yet available.

Inner Space
BMW says that the original Gran Turismos of the 1950s and '60s were stylish and luxurious 2-seat sports cars that could accommodate two people and their luggage for a weekend away. The new BMW 5 GT amends that idea to handle five people and their luggage. Making this possible is a unique "bi-modal" trunk that can open like a trunk or a hatchback; a three-passenger rear bench seat that moves forward and aft almost four inches; and a one-of-a-kind bulkhead that separates the interior from the cargo area.

With the rear seat set fully back, the trunk offers 15.5 cubic feet of cargo room, and rear-seat passengers have a generous 41.8 inches of legroom, 3.2 inches more than in a standard-wheelbase 7-Series. Move the rear seat fully forward and most passengers will still be comfortable, but there will be 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seats and the bulkhead down, and cargo space expands to 63.6 cubic feet, about the same as a Ford Escape or Jeep Liberty. Of course, that space is deeper than it is tall, so larger boxes won't fit.

Up front, the 5 GT previews the next-generation 5-Series dashboard, which is laid forward to create a feeling of space. The soft-touch, sturdy materials exude quality, and the wood trim looks like wood. BMW's iDrive control system is standard. Now in its fourth generation, iDrive has become easier to use, incorporating several buttons around the main rotating controller to access various functions quickly. BMW has also added eight buttons that look like radio presets but can be used like control keys on a computer to go to complicated functions immediately. Examples include specific navigation routes or any function that might otherwise be buried deep in iDrive. A USB port in the glove box allows for loading drive routes and the like. Another USB port in the center console can be used for MP3 players, and when buyers opt for the navigation system they get a hard drive that can also hold thousands of songs.

On the Road
The BMW 5 GT has the DNA of a luxury sport sedan, including a near-perfect 49.8/50.2 front/rear weight ratio. However, at 4,600 to 4,900 pounds, the 5 GT is just too big to be truly sporty. The result is a vehicle with a very carlike character, one that drives smaller than its size but doesn't attack turns as well as a more svelte 5-Series. It feels very much like a 7-Series, with sharp steering, quick reactions and a supple ride, but it has too much mass to excel in a slalom or bite into sharp turns. Compared with a crossover SUV, the 5 GT feels much more planted.

Those who want a somewhat sportier character can opt for 19- or 20-inch tires, Integral Active Steering with rear steering and Dynamic Damping Control with Active Roll Stabilization. Dynamic Damping Control adjusts the firmness of the shocks from comfortable to sporty, and Active Roll Stabilization twists the anti-roll bars to firm them up and make cornering flatter. BMW's Integrated Active Steering electronically varies the steering ratio to make it quicker and more responsive at low speeds and slower and more stable at high speeds. It also comes with rear steering, which turns the rear wheels up to three degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels at low speeds to reduce the turning circle, and steers the rears with the fronts at speed to increase stability.

BMW didn't make the 5 GT's 4.4-liter V8 available for test drives, but we've experienced it in the X6 and 7-Series and can say that it delivers smooth, willing power without a hint of turbo lag. BMW says the V8 can propel the 5 GT from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and we believe it. Due later is a 535i with a turbocharged six. This engine was available for test drives and it performed admirably. It vaults the car to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, which is plenty fast. In fact, unless you're dead set on the V8, we'd recommend the strong six. Both engines use a new 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth shifts but is sometimes hesitant to downshift for passing.

Right for You?
In terms of power, ride, handling, ride height, interior space and cargo room, the BMW 5 GT attempts to be all things to all people, and it succeeds to a great degree on most counts. It would work great as a single vehicle for transporting the family or entertaining clients. While some will consider it a form of a crossover, it's really just a car with a useful rear-seat and cargo area, making it a flexible wagon for a demanding luxury audience.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.

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BB02 - 7/23/2014 8:15:22 PM