DRIVEN AN AVERAGE OF ONLY 9,400 MILES PER YEAR! Far below the national average!
The 5 undergoes no major changes for 2009, although the iDrive electronics interface gets a slight overhaul as a midyear change. We strongly suggest waiting to get one of these cars. You'll be able to tell the difference between the two systems by the new design's menu buttons for frequently used functions (stereo, navigation, telephone) that are now adjacent to the control knob. Unfortunately, the same old menu structure remains -- unlike the 3 and 7 Series, which get the latest, greatly improved system.
Other than all-wheel-drive models getting "xDrive" attached to their name/number, the 5 Series range continues to consist of 528i, 535i and 550i for sedans and 535i xDrive for the wagon. Of all these, the 535i is certainly our pick of the litter. The primary reason is BMW's now-familiar twin-turbocharged inline-6, which endows the 535i with a near-ideal blend of seamless power and respectable fuel efficiency. This torque-rich engine pulls hard from low in its rev range, effortlessly piling on speed whether merging on the highway or embarrassing Camaro-wielding wannabe street racers. In fact, the 535i is just 0.4 second slower from zero to 60 mph than the V8-powered 550i, yet it returns only 1 combined mpg less than the 528i, which has 70 fewer horses. Additionally, this power plant weighs less than the 550i's V8, and that makes the 535i feel better balanced and more responsive in corners.