Full 2014 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo sees a minor front and rear styling refresh that includes a reshaped liftgate that adds a couple of cubic feet to the cargo capacity. Navigation is now standard on all models and there is also an updated iDrive controller with a new touchpad feature. Finally, BMW has made revisions to the GT's optional packages, including the debut of new themed lines and the discontinuation of the upgraded two-passenger rear seating layout.
Sometimes it seems like there is a bewildering array of choices when you're shopping for a new car. This can really be the case with BMW's lineup. Beyond all the typical choices of sedans and SUVs, there's the 2014 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. A large hatchback based on the 7 Series sedan (indeed, it's bigger than the 5 Series with which it shares its name), the Gran Turismo mixes the attributes of a sedan, crossover SUV and wagon. It's an interesting mix to be sure, but how much appeal that mix holds with you will depend on your specific needs.
The 5 Series Gran Turismo's calling card is its dual-function liftgate that can open up in two different ways. As expected, the whole thing lifts upward in conventional fashion as a single piece. But you can also open just the lower portion, below the rear window, much like a sedan's trunk lid. With the Gran Turismo, you also get a high-class interior with an impressively roomy rear seat, available all-wheel drive, a slightly higher ride height than a sedan and the option to choose either a strong and fuel-efficient turbocharged six-cylinder engine or an even more powerful turbocharged V8.
Under cold analysis, though, we find it hard to love the 5 Series GT. The automaker's own crossovers, the 2014 BMW X3 and 2014 BMW X5, provide plenty of luxury and utility at much lower prices. And while the Gran Turismo does give you more cargo space than a coupe-styled sedan like the 2014 Audi A7 or BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe, it's not as enjoyable to drive (or as easy on the eyes) as those sportier cars. And if you're looking for more of a luxury sport wagon, we'd point you toward the 2014 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Overall, though, the 2015 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo will satisfy shoppers looking for a vehicle that can do a little bit of everything.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is a tall, four-door luxury hatchback with seating for five. It features a segmented rear window and deck lid that can be opened either as a hatchback or a conventional trunk. The two trim levels (535i and 550i) correspond to the engine under the hood, and both come standard with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive (xDrive) is optional.
Standard 535i features include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, 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 four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings and sliding, reclining and split-folding rear seats. Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW's iDrive electronics interface, a navigation system, smartphone integration 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 20-way power front seats and a rearview camera.
Most Gran Turismo options are grouped into packages. Starting things off are three main equipment lines: Luxury, Modern and M Sport. Luxury and Modern give you 19- or 20-inch wheels, LED foglights, upgraded leather upholstery and special interior trim. The M Sport package is similar, but it also adds summer performance tires (all-season tires remain standard on xDrive models), a special aerodynamic body kit and a sport steering wheel.
The Premium package for the 535i adds keyless ignition and entry, soft-close doors and satellite radio. Also for the 535i is the Driver Assistance package that gets you the rearview camera and a head-up display. On the 550i, an Executive package effectively bundles the contents of those two packages together along with ceramic-trimmed controls.
For all Gran Turismos, a Lighting package includes LED headlights and automatic high beam control. The Dynamic Handling package adds an adaptive suspension. The Driver Assistance Plus package includes a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, top and sideview parking cameras, and frontal collision warning and mitigation.
For the interior, the Cold Weather package keeps passengers cozy with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Luxury Seating package adds ventilated front seats (20-way front seats for the 535i).
Stand-alone options include many of the above-listed items, plus four-wheel active steering, adaptive cruise control, automated parallel-parking assist, a premium 16-speaker sound system (either Harman Kardon or pricier Bang & Olufsen), power rear window shades, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system with pedestrian detection.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2014 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 turbocharged V8 increases output to 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, and buyers can opt for all-wheel drive (known as xDrive) with either engine. Automatic engine stop-start is also included for both models.
The EPA estimates 535i fuel economy at 22 mpg in combined driving (19 city/28 highway), while the 535i xDrive drops to 21 mpg combined (18/26). The 550i is rated at 19 mpg combined (16/25 for rear-drive and 16/24 for all-wheel drive).
Standard safety equipment for all 2014 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. A rearview camera is standard on the 550i GT and optional on the 535i GT. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency response button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery.
Optional safety features include blind-spot detection, a head-up display, a lane departure warning system, automatic high beams, a frontal collision warning and mitigation system with automatic braking, top view and sideview parking cameras and a night vision camera.
In government crash tests, the 5 Series Gran Turismo received a top overall rating of five stars, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 5 Series GT's cabin is up to the standards of BMW's 7 Series flagship, with nearly every surface adorned with supple leather, rich wood trim and nicely textured plastic. The impressively comfortable front seats easily accommodate larger adults and offer seemingly endless adjustments, while the roomy rear seats are just as comfortable.
The dash has a clean look thanks to the standard iDrive interface that minimizes the need for buttons. That interface consists of a wide screen in the center of the dashboard and a dial-shaped controller on the center console. For 2014, BMW has added a touchpad to the top of the controller that can be used to "hand-write" inputs using your finger. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times. But compared with some rival systems, it often requires a few more twirls and clicks to get what you want.
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. Why the cool but complex trick? BMW claims that this allows the passenger compartment to remain isolated from the elements when loading smaller cargo in inclement weather, while also giving owners the ability to haul larger items when the need arises. The smaller trunk section holds up to 17.7 cubic feet, and a removable package tray creates a substantial partition between the trunk and cabin, nesting 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 62 cubic feet.
On the road, the 2014 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo mostly drives much like a 5 or 7 Series sedan. The turbo V8 engine pulls strongly and the eight-speed automatic seems well matched to this engine, providing quick, almost seamless shifts when driven conservatively. Going with the turbo inline-6, however, still provides satisfying performance and should suit the vast majority of buyers just fine.
Around town, the 5 Series GT remains calm and composed over broken pavement, insulating passengers from the harshness of the world, much like any BMW luxury sedan. Wind and road noise go largely unnoticed. Driven on winding mountain passes, the GT feels quite secure and stable thanks to its advanced suspension components and well-calibrated electronic aids. When this tall hatchback is pushed closer to its limits, though, its higher center of gravity and additional weight (compared to a regular sedan) are noticeable, and in general, it feels more like a bulky crossover SUV than a nimble BMW sedan.