2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

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2011 BMW 528i: Maintaining a Beige Interior

September 14, 2011

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The floor mats in our 2011 BMW 528i were filthy. So I took care of them...

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2011 BMW 528i: Flipped My Lid

August 22, 2011

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I usually don't put cups in cupholders. I use them for keys, access cards, tissues, miscellaneous stuff. I like that the BMW has a cover than you can close over when you don't want to see the cupholders.

But this time I actually had a cup. And when I put it in the cupholder, I noticed the lid sits exactly on the top of the cover. If I wasn't careful it could have flipped the lid right off my cup.

This design would be fine if I had a bottle of water but could be dangerous with a hot cup of coffee. My cup was only filled with water so there was no danger of me reaching for my hot drink and burning myself. But I know a lot of people who stop for a latte on their way to work. This design would be awkward.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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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: The Orange Light Inside

August 02, 2011

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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.

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2011 BMW 528i: What To Do When the Buttons are Gone?

August 01, 2011

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It occurred to me while driving the 528i this weekend how little I used the dashboard controls. The iDrive more or less controls all the radio functions and the only climate controls I used was the temperature knobs since it's all automatic from there.

Looking at the dashboard, the only other major chunk of real estate was being taken up by the CD slot and some preset buttons -- two other features I don't use much.

Got me thinking about what would I want there if BMW decided to get rid of everything? You know, just clear the whole deck except for the main screen and few choice buttons/knobs. Would it look odd if there was nothing there at all? Would it look cool if there was one giant plank of wood across the whole dash?

I'm not really sure, but something tells me it'll never happen. They'll probably come up with some new feature that will need the space and it'll be back to wishing for a simpler setup all over again.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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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: Ambient Lighting

June 20, 2011

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BMW, like most luxury automakers, has thoughtfully provided ambient interior lighting on our long-term 2011 528i. The lighting is orange in color, matching the meters, instead of the usual white light.

And the ambient lighting extends down to the map pocket, but not into the footwell on either side, like on many luxury cars.

I suppose BMW figures you can't see down into the footwell anyway, and that you already know what your shoes look like.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 13,000 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: Lock This Idea Away

June 17, 2011

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I can't possibly be the only one who thinks this is a stupid idea. Maybe it's even been addressed before on this car, possibly by me, I didn't really check. Either way, it annoyed me again last night so I'll take this chance to whine about again.

Putting the door lock button in the middle of the dash makes no sense at all. Not even in German. Where do you naturally look when you want to unlock the doors? To the doors of course, never to the vents in the middle of the dash. But that's when the button is on the 5 Series, and a bunch of other cars these days. Can't wait to hear the explanations why.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2011 BMW 528i: Worn and Frayed

June 08, 2011

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Well, the 528i's seats may be holding up better than the Equus's, but I got some real crack for the IL Haters, the Clean Police who say we don't care about our cars. We care so little in fact that they get a bath, vac and shine only once a week. Shouldn't be a surprise that our rear passenger compartment - the mats particularly - are starting to look like this.

You can't blame us, really. Automotive editorial work draws some pretty filthy degenerates.

I think it's fair to consider 10-15 people cycling through a car once a month "heavy use." Sensitive motoring types might actually consider it abuse. Add in a handful of trips out to test, where dirt, asphalt and Jacquot-sourced clag gets tracked inside and you've got a real mess.

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2011 BMW 528i: True Dual Climate Control

May 10, 2011

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Now this is cool. Lots of cars have dual-zone climate control, but how many have dual fan speeds as well? Our long term 2011 Infiniti M56 doesn't. Sure, the Infiniti's got Forest Air mode (which I've got to admit is better than it sounds -- humidity control is key), but if you want a strong, cold gale at your face and your passenger (usually a girl) wants to bask in weak, warm breath, well, you're out of luck. Not so in the $7-grand-cheaper BMW.

Any of us who've had long-term relations with a significant other who doesn't appreciate having the AC blasted full-steam all the time will find the dual fan speed clutch. I know I did.

Oh, and best of all? The "Automatic climate control with separate left/right temperature and air distribution controls, with automatic air recirculation" is standard.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Inside Line @ 11,020 miles

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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: Son of a ...

April 14, 2011

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Last night, I slid into the BMW 5 Series to go home. We have a key card system that gets us in and out of our parking garage. I took my card out of my bag and it slipped out of my hand and right down the side of the driver seat next to the center console. The cards are the size of a credit card.

You can see in the picture above there is not much room there. Being a girl I have tiny hands, but I could not reach the card. If you look under the front of seat, there is a plastic trim piece that keeps you from seeing underneath. So, I got into the back seat and I could see all the mechanical scary bits that look like they will take off my hand if I reach under. They won't, of course, but I'm kind of a dramatic person.

The card is sitting sideways next to the cushion and I can't reach it. I just want to go home. So I move the seat all the way forward. The card doesn't budge and I still can't reach. I move the seat all the way back. Nothing. So I did this a few more times until the card finally tipped over. Then I held my breath and stuck my hand into the terminator-like machinery under the seat and kept at it until I managed to wiggle the card between my fingertips and slowly pulled it out.

Whew! Mischief managed.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 BMW 528i: Warning Light Revival

March 18, 2011

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Ok, so I kept something from you when I posted on our BMW 528i yesterday. When I started it up there was a warning light. Some of you caught it. It was the dreaded seat calibration warning. We've seen this before on our 7 Series. The solution is to slide the seat forward all the way, a little further and then reset your seat position. Really easy.

I enjoy the new technology in cars today. But there is a part of me that can't get past the more moving parts equals more problems idea. This is an example of a very easy fix. But what do you think? Are comfort features like this worth the hassle when they go bad?

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2011 BMW 528i: Instrument Panel

March 02, 2011

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I like the look of the 528i's instrument panel and one touch that I particularly appreciate is how seamlessly the digital and non-digital elements are integrated.

The temperature, time and odometer information, for example, is digital, but the resolution is sharp as knives and the readout is designed to precisely mimic the look of the non-digital elements on the panel.

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2011 BMW 528i: BMW Got The Paddles Right

March 02, 2011

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That's the upshift paddle on our 528i's steering wheel. It's placed well, turns with the wheel and stops with a deliberate but damped thud and at the end of its travel.

And there are more reasons why it's awesome.

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2011 BMW 528i: Blinded by the Light

February 28, 2011

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This time of year the sun is at a really annoying angle in the sky, I can't wait until summer gets closer so the sun rises higher in the sky and gets out of my eyes.

The visor in our BMW 528i has a 2-3-inch gap on the left side and no way to adjust it. No extender. Nothing. Sun glare when driving can be really dangerous.

How are the visors in your car?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 9,646 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: On The Corner

February 24, 2011

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This is my favorite corner of the 528i. The leather is beautifully stitched, the wood is glossy, the metallic accents are tasteful and the plastic has a pleasing grain. Lots of textural interest, with all the different materials used. And I love the graceful sweep of the door handle and the way those swooping lines all coalesce.

Throughout most of the cabin, materials quality is superb and the design aesthetic is unfussy and modern. Get inside the 5 and you'll find yourself in a pretty deluxe environment, one that tells me BMW is serious about giving 5 Series drivers a true luxury-car experience.

In the past, BMWs weren't exactly known for having standout interior design but with this new 5, things might be starting to change. What do you think of the cabin's design?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ ~9,500 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: Soft Closing Doors

February 11, 2011

This is a pretty cool feature. Even if you give a weak-sauce push to close a door, our 528i will automatically cinch the door up for you. This feature is part of the optional $1,700 Convenience Package.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 BMW 528i: Two Steering Wheels

February 02, 2011

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On the left, the steering wheel from a 2009 BMW 550i we tested. On the right, the steering wheel from our long-term 2011 BMW 528i. It's a little tough to make out in these photos, but if you've been in the cockpit of both the E60 and F10 generations of the 5 Series, you know there's a difference. Save for the raised portions at 10 and 2, the steering wheel rim in our long-term 528i is slightly thinner.

Is this a big deal? Probably not. But I think it gets to the heart of the subtle shift in the 5 Series' personality over the last decade.

Mind you, the steering wheel in the previous-generation 5 Series was downright fat, almost a caricature of what a steering wheel should be, and a bit much for average-size human hands to hold. But it primed you for the actual driving experience, which was that of a bona fide sport sedan, maybe the best midsize sport sedan there was, save for the even more beloved E39 generation.

But as you take up the more slender rim in our 528i, you have a feeling it's going to be a bit different now. There's no manual transmission for starters -- in fact, you can't get a three-pedal setup in the U.S.-spec 528i. You have to move up to the 535i or 550i to get that unpopular configuration.

Then, there's the throttle response and the suspension damping. Neither feels quite right to me in Normal (too soft and too soft, respectively), not even for a short drive home, so I switch to the Sport setting and that doesn't feel quite right, either (too agressive and still a little too gelatinous, respectively). So I switch back to Normal.

I'm sure I'll eventually sort things out with the 528i's settings like I did in our long-term 750i. But part of the appeal of the previous two generations of the 5 Series was that they felt pretty much perfect with no fiddling at all.

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2011 BMW 528i: Is Tan Worth The Stains?

January 27, 2011

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This is why you don't buy a car with tan floormats. Ever. Just look at how much grime has accumulated onto the driver's floormat of our 2011 BMW 528i. And we haven't reached 8,000 miles yet.

I don't know why manufacturers even make tan floormats. Here's the thing: Although the interior is mostly tan, there's enough black within the cabin that black floormats would look just fine.

In fact, I think they'd look far better than tan, giving a contrasting color combo. For sure they'd hide the dirt better.

Here's how the front passenger floormat is looking. Not sure how those grease marks got there, but it'll take more than vacuuming to get those out, that's for sure.

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2011 BMW 528i: Mediocre Vibrations

December 02, 2010

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One man's "connected to the car" is another man's "intrusive buzzing," so I'm not sure how other people feel about the steering wheel vibration in our long-term 2011 BMW 528i.

I do know I've never had to question this trait in other Bavarian cars, but I find myself wondering if the straight six in our long-term car is running properly. It's not really apparent at driving speeds, but at idle the car's wheel has a thrum that feels like a bad fuel injection pulse or some other malady.

With our recent engine warning light because of a fuel filler neck leak I'm thinking the two are related.

Or maybe I'm just entering that age when every car has to be Lexus-smooth?

BMW's new tagline: "If it's too buzzy, you're too old!"

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large

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2011 BMW 5 Series: Is 3 Feet of Legroom Enough for You?

November 10, 2010

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That's the measurement listed for the legroom in the back seat of our 528i. Actually, it's 36.1 inches if you want to be precise, but what's a tenth of an inch anyway?

Looking at some of the competitors for the 5 Series, it appears as though 36 inches in the magic number. Both the Acura TL and Infiniti G37 best the BMW by a tenth at 36.2 inches while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class leaves you squished in with just 35.8 inches.

You might be surprised to learn that the Audi A6 is the big winner here with a backseat that affords up to 36.9 inches for the legs. Then again, these are all maximum measurements and they're all with about an inch or so of one another. My guess is, no one would notice the difference between any of them.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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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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2011 BMW 5 Series: Still Don't Like Electronic Shifters

October 04, 2010

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The whole shift-by-wire thing has been slowly making its way into luxury cars over the past several years and I still can't get used to it. I'm talking about automatic shifters that aren't really connected to the transmission. Instead, they're just oversized toggle switches that send signals to the transmission computer to shift up or down.

In the BMW, the shifter doesn't actually move, you just bump it forward for reverse and pull it back for drive. For park, you push the button. After several hundred miles behind the wheel, I'm starting to get used to it, sort of.

Still, it's one of those things that seems complicated for no apparent reason. Sure, it makes for slightly more efficient packaging, but just how much room did BMW save with this design? There are other reasons too, but shouldn't something that you touch every time you get in the car have some sway over other less prominent features? I think so.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 1,298 miles

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2011 BMW 528i: First Reflections

October 01, 2010

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I took our new long-term 2011 BMW 528 out last night for the first time. As I had recently driven a new 535, I knew I would like the 528 dynamically.

My first impression of the 528 was actually a reflection: the outer mirrors are tiny. I'm used to usable mirrors on most cars and big mirrors on SUVs. But these mirrors are like those on a Sportbike.

They don't look so small from the outside, but they're don't appear overly large either.

The reason must be Styling.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @1,270 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 BMW 5 Series in VA is:

$150 per month*
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