2011 BMW 535i (Euro spec)Enlarge Photo
iDrive intuitive at last, but plenty more to geek out over
You’ll still need iDrive to access many vehicle functions, but the 5-Series benefits from the fourth-generation system that was introduced for 2010 on the 5-Series—including a much-improved menu structure and hot-buttons for main-menu categories. Simply put, iDrive has finally reached its potential in being a relatively intuitive interface that you won’t need to read manuals to digest and use on the fly.
Also, BMW will offer a sonar-based Parking Assistant feature for the first time in the 2011 5-Series, and the back-up camera system includes new Top View and Side View functions aimed at spotting driveway or parking-lot obstacles. A new Active Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go—capable of adjusting speed to traffic and bringing the vehicle to a complete stop for up to three seconds before needing driver input—will be optional. Also on the options list will be Active Blind Spot Detection, a Lane Departure Warning system, Xenon Adaptive Headlights with automatic high beams, and a new second-generation night-vision system with pedestrian detection.
The 2011 5-Series will have an auto-park feature—sonar-based and for parallel-parking only. The driver can touch the brake and accelerator during the process, and the system will be offered with manual or automatic transmissions.
The bottom line is that the new 2011 5-Series feels a little sportier and more expressive than the 5-Series it’s replacing. Those who might have dismissed the 5-Series might owe it to themselves to take a new look at this one. When you take advantage of all of the technical achievements that are available with the Sport Package or as options—you don’t have to drive fast or aggressively to enjoy them—you’re getting a true sport sedan that will make the you, your passengers, and your inner tech geek very satisfied.