2011 BMW 528i Long Term Road Test - Comfort
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2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

Comfort

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2011 BMW 528i: Five or Four?

August 12, 2011

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Last night the 528i served as a rather luxurious mule for me and four friends, three of whom were consigned to the back seat. The person in the middle wasn't happy about it, saying that the "hump on the floor and that air-conditioning thing" impeded her legroom and left her feeling cramped and uncomfortable during the 15-minute drive.

She thinks this is a notable shortcoming and says she'd never pay that much money for a sedan that can't comfortably seat three in back.

I responded that people who buy the 5 Series probably do so for reasons that don't include comfortable 5-passenger seating. But now that I've had a chance to think about it, maybe I'm wrong. People choose sedans expecting a certain amount of utility, after all, and maybe there are a fair number of luxury-sedan shoppers in this segment who want a premium car that's an easy fit for five passengers.

What do you think? Is 5-passenger seating an important trait for a sedan in this segment?

And yes, beige is clearly a bad, bad idea when you're talking floor mats.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 19,040 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: Shady

July 26, 2011

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Our 528i comes standard with a power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades.

The manual shades initially caused me to fumble around a bit when I was setting them up, since the hooks are smallish and tricky to engage.

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2011 BMW 528i: Road Trip Complaints

July 05, 2011

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After a Canada Day weekend road trip to Las Vegas, I have the following complaints about our long-term BMW 528i ...

That is it. I have none. No complaints about its abilities on the highway, which is in stark contrast to how it drives me up the flippin' wall everywhere else. The 800-way power seats are superb. The ride is excellent. The damned annoying throttle isn't damned annoying. I get along with current-gen iDrive. Power is plentiful and I actually got 30.8 mpg averaging about 77 mph on the up-and-down hilly LA-Vegas route on I-15. That's pretty damned good for an engine about to be replaced by something even thriftier.

So as an Autobahn cruiser, the BMW 5 Series does its job exceptionally well. However, the old car did as well and it didn't drive me up the flippin' wall.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 14,148 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: Is BMW the new Cadillac?

June 30, 2011

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The other day I had a meeting with a guy who was a Cadillac guy. A serious Cadillac guy. When I asked him the process he uses for buying a new car he said, "Well, when I see a new Cadillac I like, I have to buy it." And that was it. That was how he shops for a car. His latest purchase, though, he regrets, "It just rides so poorly. It's uncomfortable and bumpy and just sits in the garage. I only drive the DTS. I'll probably sell it."

The car in question is a 2010 Cadillac CTS. And, honestly, from a Caddy-buyer POV, that car is probably terrible. It's not floaty, it changes direction, there's feel--- all curse words to old-school Caddy owners.

So we're talking and I say, "Hey, have you driven the new BMW 5 Series?" He says that because it's not a Cadillac, and because the last BMW he drove -- in the 80s --he hated, he has not. I tell him the new car is softer, floatier and less responsive than the CTS even and this might be just the car he's looking for. He said he'd give it a shot, but has since stopped returning my calls. Still, I think he'd dig the 528i.

The point, however, is valid: Cadillac is making real cars these days (so is Buick to think of it) and the upcoming ATS and XTS look to follow in the vein of the CTS by also being real, driveable cars. That leaves guys like our friend up there without a natural home. At the same time, BMW's are getting easier and easier on the driver and have a plush factor that there seems to be a market for.

Is BWM right to follow the rich old guys (and their money) into retirement or is Cadillac on the right path, attracting young buyers who still want style and speed? Or both? Is this just a natural shift in market segments? Keeping vs attracting buyers.

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2011 BMW 528i: Max A/C

May 03, 2011

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I'm one of those people who complain they are cold all the time. Then when the weather hits the 80s I complain that I'm hot. You know the type, we drive with the seat heaters and air conditioner on at the same time.

We've had beautiful weather in L.A. the past few days and I've had trouble setting the air conditioner in the BMW 528i to a comfortable temperature. It's always too subtle for this Chevy-raised girl.

I end up having to push the "Max A/C" button then dialing it back from there. Max sets the temperature to 60 degrees and puts the fan on full speed. It quickly cools a sunny cabin. When I dial the fan back, the BMW adjusts the temperature to match. Set it to 3 lines and the car warns you you're only going to get the temp to 68 degrees, for example.

Tell us about the A/C in your car.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ an exterior temperature of 85 degrees F.

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2011 BMW 528i: Comfort

April 28, 2011

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You know how when you're sick and all you want is comfort. The other day I left the office feeling lousy. I had the keys to the BMW 528i. I'm sure it's no surprise that the luxury sedan is comfortable. But what I appreciated most on my long drive home was the driver headrest. It sits in the perfect position so I could drive and rest my head at the same time. I was still in a safe and proper driving position but I didn't have to hold up my heavy head myself.

I'm still coughing and sneezing but now I'm sitting on my couch. Perhaps I should go into my driveway, turn on the seat heaters and take a nap.

What are the headrests like in your car?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 11,329 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: The Contender

February 23, 2011

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I'm a card-carrying member of the E-Class fan club. The sedan strikes an ideal luxury-car balance, shielding the driver from plebeian things like rough pavement without leaving him feeling like he's piloting the thing from North Siberia. And I have a soft spot for the 5.5-liter V8, with its flawlessly smooth power delivery.

I never thought I'd find myself switching allegiances, but our 5 Series has me giving it serious thought. For my tastes, it's a bit of a slug in "Normal" mode, but get it in "Sport" and it's ready to dance. True, its growth spurt has robbed it of some of its playfulness, but there's still ample fun to be had. And I love the way the car looks, both inside and out.

Its redesign has left the car feeling more luxury-focused -- which makes it more appropriate for most shoppers in this segment -- but the shift hasn't stripped it of its vitality. The 5 Series played bridesmaid to the E-Class last year in sales. It'll be interesting to see if this new Fiver finds the model a broader audience.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 9,494 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: 600-Mile Road Trip

January 19, 2011

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A couple of weeks ago I drove our long-term 2011 BMW 528i from L.A. to Vegas and back. It's about a 600 mile round trip through absolutely nothing. Before I left I asked you for questions you would like answered about the BMW. Things I might learn on the trip.

Well, here are the answers to some of your questions.

throwback says:

11:28 AM, 01/ 5/11

How are the seats? I have found that many modern cars have seats that are no designed for long distance travel. Its as if manufacturers are only building cars for commuters. My '02 Saab 9-5 Aero has spoiled me when it comes to supportive comfortable seats.

Throwback, I found the BMW's seats to be a B+ on the long drive. For me, (I'm 5' 11" 180 lbs.) they're comfortable for about 300 miles. When I arrived in Las Vegas I was happy to get out and stretch.

apinault says:

01:07 PM, 01/ 5/11

What do you think of the power of the vehicle? Is the 528 "enough" or is the 535 necessary?

On a drive like this the 528i had plenty of motor. No complaints, even up grades.

joefrompa says:

01:18 PM, 01/ 5/11

How's the car feel at very high speeds? Does the steering tire you after a few hours with twitchiness, or does it feel solid and stable?

Can you do a powerslide on pavement in the desert? Was it hard? :)

Joe, the 528i is solid and stable out on the highway. No twitchiness. No fatigue. And no, for powerslides on pavement you've got to pay up for the 535i or 550i. Better yet the upcoming M5.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 BMW 528i: Perfect for Airport Duty

January 13, 2011

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I was tasked with running to the airport to fetch an editor returning from the Detroit auto show. With a quick scan of the long-term car board, I instantly knew which car to pick. Our 2011 BMW 528i.

I figured after the editor's 3am wakeup call, hours spent in coach, not to mention the fact that he just finished a five-day stint in snowy Detroit, he'd appreciate the luxury of the roomy 5 Series. I know if I were in his place, I'd love for someone to show up and chauffeur me in this car.

It has a smooth, quiet ride so he could leave behind memories of screaming babies in coach, seat heaters to soothe his aches from his travels and a really comfortable seat to sink into.

But when I pulled up to the curb and he dropped his rollaway into the trunk he said he wanted to drive. Oh well.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 BMW 528i: Like Buttah

January 10, 2011

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When you get a phone call from the bossman, asking if you're willing to trade the car your driving for the BMW 528i, you say yes. I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to drive one of the marquee cars in the long term fleet.

It's ironic, because when I got into the office in the wee hours this morning, I read Oldhams post on how he liked the Outlanders seats, the car I traded with him. I thought the same thing about the Bimmers seats.

When I jumped into the seats to move the car into my driveway, I just melted into them. Wow, these things are some of the nicest seats I've experienced. Excellent cushion without being mushy. Great support for my thighs, the right amount of side bolstering without making me self-conscious of my love handles. I was really able to dial in the perfect driving position with the controls and really enjoyed driving this car around on Sunday.

Oldham just got back from Vegas and had an opportunity to really test out their comfort. Hopefully some time in the future I can get my hands on this car to really test them out.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 8,025 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: More From Yosemite

November 20, 2010

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We left Yosemite in the 2011 BMW 528i determined to take the Tioga Pass out of the park. Our only obstacle was the weather, which was rolling in quickly from the east and threatened to close the pass before we made it. We crossed our fingers and hit the road.

The drive out and more pictures in Yosemite after the jump.

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2011 BMW 528i: Highway Manners

November 17, 2010

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Our 320-mile trip from Orange County up to Yosemite National Park afforded us plenty of seat time in the 2011 BMW 528i. The 5 Series left quite an impression.

Noise: This 528i was extremely quiet. Honestly, I thought the Dunlops would be loud but it was nothing a mild radio volume couldn't drown out. As for the engine, it was never short of breath and remained reasonably quite throughout the trip.

Ride quality: As expected, the 5 Series was perfectly stable at highway speeds. The steering is weighted just right, so as to minimize driver involvement and fatigue. Some summer tires tend to tug laterally at the car over freeway expansion joints. There was none of that with the 5 Series. I just dailed up the radio, set the cruise control and settled in.

Cruise control: I found this to be the most impressive aspect of the 528i as a road trip car. I've driven the 4,100-ft Tejon Pass in northern LA County many times, and in many different cars. The first thing I do is set the cruise to 70 mph. Most transmissions have at least a handful of dramatic shifts as the grade fluctuates and the proper gear is selected. Not so with the 8-speed in our 528i. It didn't shift once. Uphill or downhill, the needle remained pegged. In fact, it wasn't fazed by any grade on this trip. Pretty cool if you ask me.

More Yosemite road trip notes to come...

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2011 BMW 528i: Ride Home With Me?

November 03, 2010

Disclaimer: This is just a video of me driving home and chilling in our BMW 5 Series. So if you need a break, tune in.

It was a rough day yesterday and traffic kinda sucked as usual. But the BMW is so quiet inside and smooth that it made me feel all better. I switched on my Flip and captured a minute of my commute listening to relaxing jazz. You can see how bumpy the connection is from the 10 to the 405 freeway but you can't really hear any distrubance in the cabin. Ahhh.

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2011 BMW 528i: Adult Ride

October 13, 2010

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Last night was my first time in our new long-term 2011 BMW 528i. And for once, the drive wasn't long enough.

I had almost forgotten how much I love the 5 Series. This morning it occured to me that this is the perfect car for a grown-up road trip. Think Napa, Lake Tahoe, not Disneyland or Sea World.

For a woman, it's like putting away that oversized purse full of crackers and crayons, and going back to a shiny black alligator clutch.

Don't get me wrong minivan, I still love you. But my heart truly belongs to a BMW sedan.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 BMW 528i: The Best Seats in the Business?

October 12, 2010

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Yeah, they probably are.

I haven't sat in every car made (photographers are usually tased if they get too close to the really nice cars), but I've sat in enough to know these seats are damn good.

Without much adjustment, I was immediately comfortable. And with a little more adjustment, I was set. The key to these seats, besides the fact they match my proportions pretty well, is the adjustability of the upper back portion. It tilts forward and backward independent from the rest of the seat back. It doesn't seem like it would do much, but it gave me such a natural and relaxed posture I could hardly believe I put over 400 miles on the car this weekend.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 2,553 miles

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