The Orange Light Inside - 2011 BMW 528i Long-Term Road Test

2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: The Orange Light Inside

August 02, 2011


If you read about my trip to Montana in a our long-term 2011 BMW 528i, you might remember that I did a lot of night driving on this trip. I also mentioned that the ambient lighting in this car made those nights on the open road a bit less lonely. In Montana, Idaho and Utah, I'd sometimes drive for 20 minutes at a time without passing another car on Interstate 15.

Usually, I don't care for non-essential lighting. The color-changeable lighting in our long-term Mustang and every recent Mini I've driven is just silly. And the cool-white ambient lighting I've encountered in the Hyundai Genesis and recent Chrysler minivans has all the warmth of a 24-hour convenience store.

But the lighting in the F10-generation 5 Series is well executed. Here I'll offer you a taste of what it's like... when shot with my camera on "auto" and no tripod.


To start, the lighting in our 528i is orange. And you can't change it. It matches the gauges and center stack illumination, and that's that. No worries about getting into the car to find another driver has changed it to lime green.

In the front, you have lighting elements in three locations on each door panel -- one along the wood/metallic trim, one in the door release cutout and one in the door bin (ignore the yellow "door open" light in the top photo). When it's really and truly dark out, this is just enough accent lighting to give you a sense of the space around you. It makes you feel like you're sitting in a room, as opposed to just speeding along in a spaceless void.

528i_ambientlight1.jpg 528i_ambientlight3.jpg

In the backseat, you have lighting elements in the same locations, plus two additional small overhead lights that cast a soft glow over the seats -- not that this would make a difference to me while I'm driving of course.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 17,980 miles

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