What's New for 2013
For 2013, the BMW 5 Series GT lineup gains stop-start ignition and the new Eco Pro system in an effort to increase fuel economy.
Small, medium, large and extra large; these sizes tend to fit a variety of needs. Be it clothing, soft drinks and yes, even cars, most people will find what they need. But what about a half size, perhaps something that slots between large and extra large?
That's the issue we have with the 2013 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. It's based on the 7 Series sedan, and features a hatchback body design for more cargo versatility. We're left pondering if this middle ground really needs representation, though, especially when the 5 Series GT costs quite a bit more than BMW's own X5 and X3 crossover SUV models.
The Gran Turismo's dual-mode hatchback is an intriguing model of innovation. From outward appearances, one would assume that access to the cargo hold is just like that of a hatchback, and you'd be correct. The hatch is also hinged at the base of the rear window, however, allowing the tail to be popped open like a conventional trunk. BMW contends that this allows the passenger compartment to be isolated from the elements when loading standard cargo, with the ability to haul larger items when the need arises.
We contend that this is more of a gimmick that fills a nonexistent need. With the aforementioned BMW X3 and X5 providing plenty of luxury and more useful utility, we find it difficult to recommend the 5 Series GT as a viable alternative. If you're indeed seeking a sport/luxury wagon, we'd point you toward the 2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Comparisons to the 2013 Audi A7 and 2013 Porsche Panamera are inevitable for their hatchback layout, too, but they both lack the sort of cargo space that qualifies as higher utility.
Granted, there's nothing really wrong with the 2013 BMW 5 Series GT, and if you somehow find the need for a vehicle that is custom-tailored to some obscure requirements, perhaps it does make sense. We're more inclined to select an off-the-rack sized wagon or SUV ourselves.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Classified as a large luxury sedan, the five-seat 2013 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo features a segmented rear window and deck lid that can be opened either like a hatchback or a conventional trunk. Trim levels correspond to engine choices and both 535i and 550i models come standard with rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive (xDrive) available as an option.
Standard 535i features include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights with washers, foglamps, auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats with driver memory settings, and sliding, reclining and split-folding rear seats. Also standard are Bluetooth, BMW's iDrive electronics interface and a 12-speaker sound system with HD radio, a CD player and an iPod/USB interface. Besides the upgrade to the V8 engine, the 550i adds 14-way "multicontour" front seats, a rearview camera and navigation with voice recognition, real-time traffic and online information services.
Most Gran Turismo options are grouped into packages. The Sport package adds 19-inch wheels (or 20-inch wheels for the 550i only) with performance tires, gloss-black exterior trim, multicontour front seats (otherwise lacking in the 535i), a sport steering wheel and an increased top speed limiter. To that list the M Sport package adds M-specific wheels and steering wheel, an anthracite headliner and an aerodynamics kit.
The Dynamic Handling package adds an adaptive suspension. The Driver Assistance package gets you a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and automatic high beams (535i), plus top- and sideview cameras and a head-up display (550i). The Premium Sound package adds a 16-speaker surround-sound audio system and satellite radio. The Convenience package (550i only) adds a power liftgate, soft-close doors and keyless ignition/entry.
There are also plenty of options related to seating upgrades. The Cold Weather package keeps passengers cozy with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Luxury Seating package adds heated, ventilated, multicontour front seats with actively adjustable side bolsters, while the Luxury Rear Seating package includes heated and ventilated rear seats and four-zone climate control. In addition, this package replaces the rear middle seat with a permanent center console and makes the GT a four-seater.
Stand-alone options include many of the above-listed items, plus four-wheel active steering, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, navigation for the 535i, a rearview camera, side- and top-view cameras, advanced Bluetooth smartphone connectivity (including Web radio and social networking), a ski bag, satellite radio, a rear-seat entertainment system and night vision with pedestrian detection.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 BMW 535i Gran Turismo is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The 550i's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 increases output to 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but buyers can opt for xDrive models that are equipped with all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 550i GT accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 5.4 seconds. We'd expect the 535i to trail by about a second. The EPA estimates 535i fuel economy at an impressive 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg in combined driving, while the 535i xDrive drops to 18/26/21 mpg. The 550i is rated at 16/24/19 mpg for either rear- or all-wheel-drive models.
Standard safety equipment for all 2013 BMW 5 Series GTs includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The brakes also feature brake fade compensation, hill-hold and brake-drying functions. Optional blind-spot detection, head-up display, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, rearview and sideview cameras and night vision with pedestrian detection are also available.
In government crash tests, the 5 Series Gran Turismo received an overall five-star rating, with four stars for overall front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In Edmunds brake testing, a 550i GT decelerated from 60 mph to zero in 112 feet, an impressive result for a vehicle tipping the scales at more than 4,800 pounds.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 5 Series GT's cabin is up to 7 Series standards, with nearly every surface adorned with supple leather, rich wood trim and textured plastic. The front seats easily accommodate larger folk and offer seemingly endless seat adjustments, while the rears are just as comfortable and can be optioned with many of the same amenities as the fronts.
The GT's distinctive rear hatch offers functionality beyond mere styling flourish. The dual-access tailgate consists of two sections that allow for a traditional trunklike opening or a full hatch. The smaller trunk section holds up to 15 cubic feet and allows for speedier loading. A removable rear package tray creates a substantial partition between the trunk and cabin and stores neatly under the trunk floor when not in use. With the rear seats folded and the package tray stowed, the GT can handle much bulkier loads of up to 60 cubic feet.
On the road, the 2013 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo drives pretty much like a regular 5 Series. The turbo V8 pulls strong and the eight-speed automatic seems well matched to this engine, providing quick, almost seamless shifts when driven conservatively. Going with the inline-6 should suit the vast majority of buyers just fine, however.
Around town, the 5 Series GT remains calm and composed, insulating passengers from the harshness of the world, much like any 5 Series. Wind and road noise go largely unnoticed. Driven on winding mountain passes, the GT feels confident and nimble. Taken closer to its limits, though, the taller ride height and additional weight contribute to more pronounced body roll than a 5 or 7 Series sedan, although advanced suspension components and electronic aids compensate enough to please most drivers.