How Much Better Is It? - 2011 BMW 528i Long-Term Road Test

2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: How Much Better Is It?

February 14, 2011


When I did that road trip a couple weeks ago I gave my father-in-law a ride in our 528i. He's kind of a curmudgeon, so I was curious to hear his take. Basically, he came away saying it was a nice car. But he also didn't think our $60,000 528i is, say, twice as good as the typical $30,000 front-drive family sedan.

He has a point. The law of diminishing returns applies to cars, too. Whether you're moving from an Accord to a 5 Series or an S-Class to a Bentley, what you're getting seems less the higher you go. That said, our 528i is a pretty sweet car and I've been thinking about what it offers versus a family sedan. Thoughts follow after the jump.

Aspects about 528i that might make it seem worth it:

Features. Our 528i is packed with features. Some, like the dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats, you could still get on a loaded family sedan. But there others you wouldn't typically get, like the big high-resolution navigation screen, multi-adjustable front seats, adaptive suspension dampers, rear sunshades and parking cameras.

Interior quality. In general the 528i's interior is just nicer. The materials used are more upscale and everything feels like it's put together more solidly.

Driving experience. This isn't really about performance, as a Sonata 2.0T will handily out-do our 528i in a straight line. But there is a premium feel to the car in the way it rides and steers that you just don't get from a family sedan.

Image. Not sure how you value this, but it's certainly something you don't get from a family sedan. Most people would say owning a BMW is just more prestigious.

Rarity. This would be tied to image. But it's just natural that the more expensive a car is, the less you see of it.

Does this all add up to being worth $60,000? I guess it depends on your perspective. In the case of my father-in-law, it doesn't. And in many ways I agree with him. But having spent the past week and a half with our 528i, I can understand the appeal. There are certain things in life that are better. If you have the money, why not get what you want?

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,950 miles

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