Rovaniemi, Finland, is a frozen city at the Arctic Circle where only the steel-hearted survive. Well, and Santa Claus, according to the local tourism bureau. Although we never ran into ol' Saint Nick, Rovaniemi was the perfect location to sample the new all-wheel-drive 2006 BMW 5 Series, which will go on sale this spring.
The all-wheel-drive 5 Series is the latest in a gaggle of new all-wheel-drive premium sedans. For decades, well-to-do car buyers in snowy climates have had only two choices, an Audi with quattro and a Mercedes-Benz with 4Matic. But now other premium brands are on to the all-wheel-drive trend. Cadillac made sure the new STS had it for 2005. And the Infiniti M35 and Lexus GS 300 are onboard for 2006.
And now BMW will make its xDrive all-wheel-drive system a $2,000 option on both the 525 and 530 sedans, and standard on the late-arriving 5 Series wagon, which will be sold only in the 530 flavor.
No V8, but More Power Although there are no current plans to install xDrive on the V8-powered 545i sedan, there's little reason to worry about the six-cylinder AWD models feeling underpowered, as both the 525 and 530 feature the new 3.0-liter magnesium/aluminum engines first seen in the 2006 BMW 3 Series. For the 525xi, that means 215 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. On the 530xi, there's 255 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque.
The rear-drive 525i and 530i also get the new engines. Either way, you'll have your choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic with Steptronic. The xDrive system adds about 170 pounds to the cars' curb weight and a couple tenths of a second to their 0-60 times — BMW estimates a manual-gearbox 530i can sprint to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, while a 530xi can do it in 6.6. The difference is greater on the 525 models — 7.3 seconds on the 525i versus 7.9 on the 525xi. Fuel economy is affected as well, with 21 city/29 highway estimates for rear-drivers and 20/27 for AWD models.
A few of the main roads in Rovaniemi had been plowed and sanded, which gave us an opportunity to sample the new engine in the 530xi. Although the jump in horsepower is what you'll read about, we were more impressed by the extra low-end torque, which made the manual-shift testers easy to launch.
A sport package will be available, and you can even get 18-inch wheels if you want them.
What Makes It Winterproof The 5 Series borrows xDrive from the X3 and X5 sport-utilities. The system is electronically controlled and uses a multiplate clutch for infinite variation in the front/rear power ratio. The system works hand-in-hand with BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, using data taken from the yaw rate and steering angle sensors to adjust the distribution of power.
Further, when DSC takes corrective braking action on a single wheel, torque is automatically redirected to the wheel opposite it. This means the BMW 530xi can keep moving even if only one wheel has traction.
The Ultimate Ice Driving Machine All of the 530s we drove wore non-factory winter performance tires (no studs). On public roads covered with packed snow and ice, the combination of xDrive, DSC and snow tires made the car basically unstoppable.
But it wasn't until we took a few dozen laps around an ice track that we understood why the 530xi would make a fantastic winter car for an enthusiast.
To accommodate drivers of varying skill and guts, DSC now has three modes. In between "completely on" and "completely off," there's a "Dynamic Traction Control" setting that scales back the intervention without taking away the safety net. This mode worked best on snow-dusted ice: It lets the 530xi's wheels spin enough to let you have your fun while gently stepping in to realign the tail. Skidding is still a possibility if you go into turns too hot, but the car's electronics keep you out of most other trouble in a manner that builds you up rather than beats you down.
Switch off the stability control altogether, and the advanced driver is left with a responsive and predictable ice-driving machine. If there's any traction to be had, the xDrive system sniffs it out.
Unexpected Features With a self-satisfied wink in Audi's direction, BMW threw a few unexpected extras into the all-wheel-drive 5 Series. Both Hill-Start Assist and Hill Descent Control are standard in case you need to conquer the Grim Reaper's driveway. There's even a Trailer Stability Control feature that uses the brakes to keep trailers hitched to the 530xi from swaying out of control in the event that an owner takes advantage of the car's 4,410-pound tow rating.
We doubt many buyers will ever need these curiosities, but we know plenty who will be delighted by the prospect of driving a BMW 5 Series that smirks at Old Man Winter.
Is the 2006 BMW 5 Series a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 BMW 5 Series and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 5 Series featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2006 BMW 5 Series? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 BMW 5 Series and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 5 Series 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 5 Series.
Review We recently purchased a pre-owned 530xi Sports Wagon with 70k miles on it, oh what can we say, we love it! We just took it for a long trip(800 miles round trip) to visit our family and the road trip was a joy. It is very fun to drive & seats are on the firm side and supportive and it didn't give me lower back pain for driving for such long hours! The interior is very quiet(not as quiet as Lexus cars) and it rides very smoothly. We folded the back seats down and it created a great bed for our dogs and spacious cargo area for our luggage. My husband hated the idea of owning a station wagon but he likes this one, it is beautiful, probably one of the best looking station wagons available today.
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What options are available on the 2006 BMW 5 Series?
Available BMW 5 Series 2006 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hybrid, Diesel, Wagon, M550i xDrive
Exterior Colors: Jet Black, Alpine White, Black Sapphire Metallic, Dark Graphite Metallic, Titanium Silver Metallic, Space Gray Metallic, Imperial Blue Metallic, Glacier Silver Metallic, Monaco Blue Metallic, Carbon Black Metallic, Mineral White Metallic, Callisto Grey Metallic, Platinum Gray Metallic, Bluestone Metallic, Deep Sea Blue Metallic, Cashmere Silver Metallic, Dark Graphite Metallic II, Silver Gray Metallic, Jatoba Brown Metallic, Orient Blue Metallic, Amethyst Gray Metallic, Mediterranean Blue Metallic, Titanium Gray Metallic, Champagne Quartz Metallic, Citrin Black Metallic, Deep Green Metallic, Jatoba Metallic, Mineral Grey Metallic, Milano Beige Metallic, Mojave Metallic, Tasman Green Metallic, Atlas Cedar Metallic, Glacier Green Metallic, Montreal Blue Metallic, Olivin Green Metallic, Oxford Green Metallic, Pyrite Brown Metallic, Steel Blue Metallic, Sterling Grey Metallic, Blue Water Metallic, Cashmere Beige Metallic, Mystic Blue Metallic, Platinum Bronze Metallic, Platinum Bronze Metallic (Late Availability), Sterling Gray Metallic
Interior Colors: Black Dakota leather, Black premium leather, Cinnamon Brown Dakota leather, Black Nappa premium leather, Black Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Beige leatherette, Black leatherette, Black SensaTec leatherette, Venetian Beige Dakota leather, Gray premium leather, Cognac Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Black Dakota w/Blue Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Black Dakota w/Exclusive Stitching leather, Amaro Brown Extended Merino premium leather, Canberra Beige/Black Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Cinnamon Brown leather, Black, Venetian Beige leather, Ivory White/Black Nappa premium leather, Cream Beige premium leather, Everest Gray leather, Mocha w/Black Nappa premium leather, Natural Brown premium leather, Beige, Black Nappa w/Contrast Stitching/Piping premium leather, Canberra Beige/Black SensaTec leatherette, Gray, Mocha Nappa w/Black premium leather, Venetian Beige/Black Dakota leather, Everest Gray Dakota leather, Veneto Beige leatherette, Oyster and Black Dakota leather, Oyster/Black leather, Night Blue Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Venetian Beige Dakota w/Exclusive Stitching leather, Ivory White w/Oyster Nappa premium leather, Oyster and Black Nappa premium leather, Venetian Beige SensaTec leatherette, Beige premium leather, Black leather, Ivory White Nappa w/Black premium leather, Ivory White Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping leather, Ivory White Nappa w/Contrast Stitching/Piping premium leather, Mocha Nappa w/Contrast Stitching/Piping premium leather, Silk Gray/Black Extended Merino premium leather, Venetian Beige/Black SensaTec leatherette, Auburn premium leather, Individual Platinum Extended Merino premium leather, Ivory White Dakota w/Contrast Stitching/Piping and Dark Coffee Dashboard leather, Ivory White Nappa w/Contrast Stitching/Piping and Dark Coffee Dashboard premium leather, Nutmeg Extended Merino premium leather, Sand, Sand Beige, Venetian Beige/Black Dakota w/Exclusive Stitching leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Trip Computer, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Stability Control, Sunroof/Moonroof, Tire Pressure Warning, Bluetooth, Automatic Emergency Braking, Aux Audio Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Upgraded Headlights, AWD/4WD, USB Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Navigation, Leather Seats, Back-up camera, Parking sensors, Heated seats, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Pre-collision safety system, Heads up display, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Stereo, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Mobile Internet, Adaptive Cruise Control, 360-degree camera, Cooled Seats, Rear Entertainment System