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Recently redesigned, the BMW 5 Series gets two new models for 2013: the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 and the high-performance BMW M5. The 2013 BMW 5 Series now includes a dozen models, counting the variants with all-wheel drive.
The BMW 528i sedan is the entry-level model, with a potent 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Then there is the BMW 535i sedan, with the sweet 300-hp turbocharged inline-6; and the 550i sedan, with a whumping 445-hp V8. The four-door sedan bodies are the same, and they all come with a smooth 8-speed manual automatic transmission.
The 5 Series cars come standard with rear-wheel drive, but each is also available as an all-wheel-drive xDrive model.
Gran Turismo models ride on a wheelbase extended by four inches, with 2+2 seating behind a long hood and under a coupe roofline. The Gran Turismo come in two versions: 535i GT with the turbo I6 and 550i GT with the V8. Each is available with xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 combines the turbocharged 6-cylinder with a 54-horsepower electric motor to make an impressive combined 335 horsepower and deliver an unimpressive 23/30 City/Highway miles per gallon EPA rating. The electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery in the trunk.
The 2013 BMW M5 features a 560-horsepower V8. The 2013 M5 is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or 7-speed double-clutch paddle-shifting transmission. The new M5 is ready for the track, but we found that for anything more than a handful of laps it needs ceramic brake rotors, which are expected to be an option for the 2014 model.
The 2013 BMW 550i gets a big bump in power. The V8 in the 550i is up from 45 horsepower to 445 hp for 2013, with torque increasing by 30 foot-pounds to 480 pound-feet.
The luxury midsize 5 Series was redesigned for 2011, and the 528i got its powerful and efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for 2012. BMW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine rivals Audi’s 2.0-liter turbo.
All three BMW 5 Series sedans are chic, crisp and distinguished for their aggressive styling and driving character. For the most demanding sporting driver, they are big and heavy, but their excellent dynamics and agility make them assertively proactive and manageable when faced with the necessity of an emergency avoidance maneuver, making them excellent family sedans.
The 5 Series offers a comprehensive inventory of passive safety provisions, with multiple airbags and structural provisions that protect occupants in the event an impact occurs. The 5 Series models are substantial, well-engineered passenger cars, yet they are gifted with an exciting athleticism that keeps the driving experience engaging and pleasurable.
BMW’s fourth-generation iDrive cockpit-management system is much easier to use than previous versions, but it is still not always intuitive or straightforward. With patience and a little insight, though, iDrive can get you what you want. The 2013 models get further streamlining and simplification to the navigation and infotainment programs. Other than that, 2013 changes to the 5 Series are all to the option packages.
The modular BMW interior is handsome and contemporary. Glowing tan and matte-black contrast handsomely on the dashboard, these surfaces punctuated by elegant swatches of exotic wood. Instrumentation is comprehensive and flawless. Gauges are about perfect to look at and read. Those who see themselves as having reached a certain level of luxury should be satisfied in this stylish cabin. Those whose standards of ergonomics and efficiency are high, might find compromised areas.
With minimal frontal overhang and muscular flanks that seem shaped by this car’s dynamic forward thrust, the 5 Series never quite looks at rest. But driving excitement has always been BMW’s stock in trade. And the 5 Series, whether in its spirited turbocharged four-cylinder 528i form, its smooth-as-glass inline-6 535i form, or its forceful, V8-powered top-of-the-line 550i, fully earns its reputation in motion. Even the ActiveHybrid 5 is powerful, accelerating from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. And the M5’s performance is purely awesome.
For those susceptible to real driving enthusiasm, the 5 Series models seem to exhort you to drive them vigorously, confidently, with pleasure. Their over-the-road qualities, or at least the promise of them, are surely what motivate many BMW aspirants. That these roomy sedans also provide safe, sumptuous family transportation qualify them as a highly desirable mid-size entries.