Little Big Car - 2011 BMW 528i Long-Term Road Test

2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: Little Big Car

August 30, 2011


After all these miles, you'd think that I'd have gotten over the new size of the 5 Series.

It's now a little big car instead of a big little car, more like a 7 Series than a 3 Series.

And I like the 7 Series. It's far more of a driver's car than you'd expect from something so hefty, and I've put in lots of miles in various iterations of this car over the years. And not just around the block, either.

Drove the first V12-powered 7 Series E32 from Dallas to Big Bend National Park and back. Drove the controversial Bangle-designed 7 Series E65 from San Antonio to L.A. Drove the Alpina B7 F01 around Sonoma County and then burned the tires off it at Infineon Raceway.

So I should be fine with the big car personality of the new 5 series. Only I'm not. In a way that I still cannot quite pin down even after 20,000 miles, this car has captured all the clumsiness of an even larger car and no amount of fiddling with the electronic chassis set up will make it go away. The bigness is always noticeable, from the slightly obscured sightlines from the driver seat to the delayed response from the control inputs.

This car still seems like a pricing strategy to me, a way to make 7 Series attributes more affordable. The trouble is, the big car attributes it displays are the very ones that remind me that smaller and lighter better suit the way I drive.

If it were my money, I'd be spending it on the world's most expensive 3 Series. I still want a big little car, not a little big car.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 19,665 miles

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