Used 2006 BMW 5 Series Wagon
- One of the most satisfying midsize sport sedans/wagons you can buy, ultrarefined engines, multiple transmissions, tastefully appointed cabin, exceptional build quality, strong resale value.
- Styling may not appeal to 5 Series loyalists, iDrive system still more hassle than it's worth, costs more than most competitors.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Controversial styling and BMW's continued use of the confounding iDrive system are the only blemishes on the 2006 BMW 5 Series, an otherwise outstanding luxury sport sedan and wagon.
Originally introduced in 1972, the BMW 5 Series has spent the last three decades catering to those who desire a sedan that functions equally well as a prestigious luxury car and a thoroughbred performance sedan. The 5 Series has long been the benchmark by which other sport sedans are measured. This elevated position presents challenges when such a stellar car is due for an update.
BMW accomplished its mission with a redesign in 1997 that gave it a look and feel that remained popular right up until the latest redesign last year. Although the 2004 BMW 5 Series was considered a complete redesign, the changes to the car's basic character seemed more like subtle refinements. It was already a comfortable, capable and highly dynamic machine. The latest version is still all of these things, just a bit more so.
In terms of overall philosophy, the largest shift from the previous model came in the form of technology. Several items were pulled directly from the current-generation 7 Series, including iDrive, Active Roll Stabilization (ARS), Active Cruise Control (ACC) and a Harman Kardon Logic7 sound system. While much of the 7's technology has migrated down to the 5, several advanced technologies made their debut on BMW's midsize sport sedan. The most exciting of these is dubbed Active Front Steering (AFS), a system that is able to adjust both the steering ratio and the amount of power assist for optimum feel and control under varying driving conditions.
Along with all the technology came an aggressive new body that most people either love or hate. For 2006, BMW has fitted the 525 and 530 models with an all-new 3.0-liter inline six, and replaced the 4.4-liter V8 with a 4.8-liter unit. For 2006, BMW has fitted the 525 and 530 models with an all-new 3.0-liter inline six. The versatile wagon body style is also back in the lineup this year, as is an all-wheel-drive system dubbed xDrive. The system is electronically controlled and uses a multiplate clutch for infinite variation in the front/rear power ratio. It works with BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), 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, xDrive automatically redirects torque to the wheel opposite it. This means the car can keep moving even if only one wheel has traction.
With excellent power and sharp handling, the 2006 BMW 5 Series further builds on its reputation as a luxury sedan of unequaled athleticism. An endless array of technology and polarizing sheet metal may distinguish the current generation in the minds of consumers, but in the end, it's the 5's continued status as a true driver's car that will make the sale.
2006 BMW 5 Series configurations
The BMW 5 Series sedan comes in several flavors: 525i, 525xi, 530i, 530xi and 550i. The wagon is available in 530xi trim only. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, a CD player, one-touch power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers and heated mirrors. Ten-way power front seats are also standard, with 12-way power front sport seats and 20-way power multifunction comfort front seats available as options. The iDrive vehicle management system is integrated into all 5 Series models, while a DVD-based navigation system with voice command and adaptive cruise control are optional. On the audio side, buyers can get a glovebox-mounted CD/DVD changer, as well as a premium-grade Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system. Other options to consider include adaptive bi-xenon headlights, and a sport package with various wheel/run-flat tire upgrades (up to 18 inches in diameter), firmer suspension tuning and Active Front Steering (AFS).
Performance & mpg
BMW's new 3.0-liter six-cylinder generates 215 horsepower in 525 models, and 255 hp in 530 versions thanks to an upgraded intake manifold and software. The top-of-the-line 550i sedan features a 4.8-liter V8 rated at 360 hp. All models get a six-speed manual standard with a six-speed Steptronic automatic an available option. The rear-drive 530i and 545i can also be had with BMW's sequential manual gearbox (SMG), a sophisticated transmission that combines the control of a manual gearbox with the ease of an automatic. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is available on 525 and 530 sedans, and standard on the wagon.
Standard safety equipment includes a head protection system and side-impact airbags for both the front and rear seats. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake proportioning, cornering and stability enhancements are standard across the model line. Active front head restraints and Advanced Safety Electronics (ASE) that govern the deployment of safety systems are optional. Both Hill-Start Assist and Hill Descent Control are standard with xDrive, in case your extra-steep driveway ever gets slippery. The BMW 5 Series was named a "Best Pick" in IIHS frontal offset crash testing.
The 2006 BMW 5 Series is an extremely balanced machine that can handle aggressive driving maneuvers as well as it does dilapidated highways. The active steering system hasn't dulled BMW's trademark steering feel, and even vehicles equipped with the optional run-flat tires maintain a livable ride quality. The base inline six offers adequate power, while the 255-hp version offers the best balance of performance and economy. Equipped with the V8, this is a true enthusiast's sedan that will outpace many sports cars.
The driver-oriented 5 Series cockpit greets passengers with a dignified show of luxury. As in the 7 Series, the multifunction iDrive interface integrates the audio, climate and navigation systems, but basic functions can be accomplished without going through iDrive. Build and materials quality is outstanding. Supportive seating is provided in both the front and rear, and even adults won't mind sitting in the backseat.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
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.
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.
Used 2006 BMW 5 Series Wagon Overview
The Used 2006 BMW 5 Series Wagon is offered in the following styles: 530xi 4dr Wagon AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M).
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Should I lease or buy a 2006 BMW 5 Series?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.