Completely new for the 2011 model year, the 5-Series and its not-quite-a-wagon 5-Series GT sister are once again setting benchmarks for the mid-size luxury class. Despite a wide range of available features and plush comfort, the 5-Series is still the driver's car of the segment, and that's why MotorAuthority rates the 2011 model an 8.
There's no wagon for the 2011 model year, as BMW has dropped the 5-Series Touring in favor of the funky 5-Series GT. The GT stands for "Gran Turismo," and as the name implies, it's meant as a luxurious four-person tourer with room for a weekend's luggage. While not everyone loves the proportions of the 5-Series GT, some definitely do, and the polarizing factor in itself may draw some.
The sedan is more conservative in its styling, but manages to look sportier and more expressive than its predecessor. There's no M5 for 2011, however, so a truly aggressive look will have to wait until 2012.
Power for the new 5-Series comes in three forms: a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder (535i models), a 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline six-cylinder, or a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 (550i models). The non-turbo six-cylinder generates a respectable 230 horsepower, while the turbo cranks out 300. The V-8 is the powerhouse of the group, rated at 400 hp. Neither turbocharged engine exhibits much in the way of lag, but both also suffer in fuel economy. The base six-cylinder is the most efficient at 18/28 mpg city/highway. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard throughout the range.
Inside, the 2011 5-Series is all about comfort delivered in style. Supple leathers, fine hardwoods, brushed metal accents and, where plastic is used, it looks and feels high-quality. Seats are very comfortable, particularly in the spacious rear seats of the GT, which offer ample head and legroom even for those over six feet.
Opt for the 5-Series GT and you'll get a unique, multi-configurable cargo area, too, offering nearly as much space as a conventional wagon--or a typical compact crossover. All-wheel drive is available on most models, making the 2011 5-Series a legitimate all-weather car even in snowy climates.
For the complete and un-cut low-down on the 2011 BMW 5-Series, read TheCarConnection's full review