Times are a changing-even at BMW-and for 2012 the base engine in the 5-Series sedans is no longer an in-line six-cylinder-it's a turbo four.
The new 528i makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, and its peak torque is reached at just 1,250 rpm; the model also comes with Auto Start/Stop technology, which smartly shuts off the engine at stoplights, along with Brake Energy Regeneration and other fuel-saving tech, to yield EPA ratings of 23 mpg city, 34 highway. The 528i is offered with either rear- or all-wheel drive (xDrive), and joins the 535i or 550i models, powered by turbo V-6 and V-8 engines, respectively. The top 400-hp, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 can launch the 5-Series to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, but most will be happy with the 535i and its 300-hp, turbocharged six. BMW doesn't keep the manual transmissions away here: most of the 5-Series models can be fitted with a 6-speed shifter.
In all, if you don't mind a slightly more agricultural four-cylinder sound in place of the sonorous six, the base 528i does the job well, too-and much more frugally-while feeling considerably stronger in most situations compared to the base, naturally aspirated six in the 528i last year. The excellent eight-speed automatic helps make the most of it, smartly responding quickly when needed.
The 5er is packed with enough performance-related technologies to raise the eyebrows of serious enthusiasts. The connected and direct driving feel remains intact. Despite the presence of myriad onboard sensors and all-knowing algorithms, BMW finds the right tuning for the 5-Series' electric power steering. It has good natural feedback on center and coveys plenty of road information when it's hustled through tight corners. With optional rear-wheel steering-it turns the back wheels opposite the fronts below 35 mph-the 5-Series feels more tossable and true at highway speeds, and more friendly to parking-lot maneuvers, too.
Driving Dynamics Control helps the 5-Series fit your need, whether that's taking on a canyon road or bringing the kids to school. BMW enables four distinct settings-Sport+, Sport, Normal, and Comfort-that can change steering assist, throttle uptake, shift points, and the adaptive suspension's firmness. It creates dramatic differences in the car's personality just from Comfort to Sport. Sport+ allows a separate mode that some might appreciate for track driving.