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2012 BMW 5-Series Review

Review Last Updated: 10/9/13

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

The 2012 BMW 5-Series offers the performance and luxury that automotive journalists expect, but it’s no longer the obvious choice for sport sedan shoppers.

Test drivers seem to have gotten past the 2012 BMW 5-Series’ growing pains. Last year, the freshly redesigned 2011 model caught some flak from test drivers who felt that the 5-Series was no longer the decided king among sport sedans. However, what the 5-Series may have given up in athleticism, it gained in comfort, refinement and luxury. Still, the 2012 BMW 5-Series is no slouch on a winding road. It’s currently the only luxury large car that’s available with a manual transmission, and adding the available handling and wheel packages can still make this BMW one of the nimblest luxury large cars on the road.

The big news for 2012, however, is the addition of a new base engine. Like the Audi A6, BMW now offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the base 5-Series, and although it has fewer cylinders than the previous year's model, reviewers agree that the new engine makes a world of difference. “If anything, the turbo pumps fresh blood into the buttoned-down 5-series,” says AutoWeek. “It's efficient, quick, and oh, you still get to drive a 5-series. It's more powerful and faster than it was last year. Don't fret about how many cylinders are--or aren't--under the hood.”

Inside, reviewers find comfortable front seats and a thoughtfully-designed dash with standard wood trim. However, a few test drivers note a shortage of back seat legroom in 5-Series sedans. Trunk space and interior storage is also in short supply. Still, many reviewers agree that if you’re looking for a luxury large car that strikes a balance between comfort, fuel economy and sport-sedan performance, the 2012 BMW 5-Series should be high on your shopping list.

Other Cars to Consider

Some reviewers comment that the 2012 5-Series is no longer as performance-oriented as it once was. If you’re looking for a car that can match the 535i in terms of power, but offers increased agility, consider the 2012 Audi A6 3.0T. The A6 3.0T has slightly more power than the 535i, as well as standard all-wheel drive and an interior that reviewers say is one of the nicest available.

While both the A6 and the 5-Series offer an enjoyable driving experience, critics note that neither has the most accommodating back seat or much trunk space. If a spacious interior is important to you, consider the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Although it’s not as nimble as the BMW or the Audi, reviewers appreciate its opulent interior, comfortable back seat and innovative safety features.

BMW 5-Series: The Details

The 2012 BMW 5-Series is available in two body styles: the 5-Series sedan and the hatchback Gran Turismo, which offers a roomier cabin and more cargo space. Both models are offered with rear- or all-wheel drive. The 5-Series sedan is available with three engines, which include a new turbocharged four-cylinder on the base 528i, as well as turbocharged six- and eight-cylinder engines on the 535i and 550i, respectively. Gran Turismo models are available with the same six- and eight-cylinder engines, but no four-cylinder is offered. A hybrid version of the 5-Series is expected in March 2012.

See the full 2012 BMW 5-Series specs.

  • "Is the new, downsized, four-cylinder BMW 528i a home run? Almost -- let's call it a triple." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The hatchback design is practical, and the cabin appropriately luxurious. At the same time, the 5-Series Gran Turismo is extraordinarily expensive and not particularly fun to drive." -- Consumer Guide (BMW 550i Gran Turismo) 
  • "The 2012 BMW 528i is a car with an unusual breadth of personality, ranging from comfortable econo-sedan to sporting four-door. And this efficient new twin-turbo four allows it to pull off these character switches with conviction." -- Edmunds 
  • "Now sharing platforms with the 7 Series, the sedan seems to have changed its tune from sport to luxury." -- Autoblog  

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