With the 2013 BMW 5-Series, what you see really is what you get. If you've owned other sport sedans, you can pretty effectively guess how much space there is in this mid-sizer from the outside; on the other hand, if you compare it to the mainstream models like a Honda Accord, back-seat space is clearly tighter.
In virtually every other way, the 5-Series serves its purpose well, as a comfortable, quiet luxury sedan that's fitted with some of the best materials in the business--in some cases, every bit as good as what you'd find in the 7-Series flagship.
Front seats are as comfortable and supportive as we’ve come to expect from BMW, with extendable lower cushion supports for taller drivers. Even on base models, they're the kind that you could rack hundreds of miles per day in--even with a problematic back.
Backseat space remains one of the few weaknesses. Just at the back of the front seats there's a hard-plastic pocket that can push up against knees, and there's simply not much usable legroom given the size of the cabin as a whole. BMW 5-Series GranTurismo models have a completely different seating arrangement, and they're the exception. With a slightly elevated backseat, lots more legroom, and plenty of headroom (and a great view out), carrying adult passengers is one of the GT's strengths.
The GranTurismo also wows with respect to cargo. 5-Series sedans come with a reasonably spacious trunk, but the GT's two-piece tailgate that can be opened and configured in several different ways can, for those with things to haul, really put it to shame. Offering some of the benefits of a wagon without the station wagon look, the 535i Gran Turismo and 550i GranTurismo models (there's no 528i GT) offer limo-like rear seats and a flexible cargo area that feel first-class--with only the Lincoln MKT and extended-length versions of the Audi A8 and 7-Series coming close. The seats can be reclined, heated, ventilated, and stimulated with massaging functions.
Throughout all the sedan models, the interior is impressive, with good-quality, tactile switchgear. The iDrive interface still remains the center point of the dash; you'll need it to access many vehicle functions, but the 5-Series benefits from the much-simplified fourth-generation system—including an improved menu structure and hot buttons for main-menu categories. iDrive may no longer bring you to an impasse, but it's not always the most straightforward interface either.