The new BMW 5 Series launched in the U.S. in June and reviews have been mostly positive, despite some criticism around BMW’s electric steering system. The folks over at Edmunds decided to focus on the positive aspects and initiated a top three best new features found on the 2011 5 Series.
- The Dynamic Handling Package
- Automated parking assist with parking cameras
- Eight-speed automatic transmission
The optional Dynamic Handling Package adds Electronic Damping Control and Active Roll Stabilization (ARS) to the 5 Series and utilizes an Adaptive Drive system to tie the two functions together. Driving Dynamics Control, as first seen on the 7 Series, lets you prime the car’s automatic suspension by pre-selecting one of four modes: Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+. The different modes also affect engine throttle response, transmission shift patterns, steering effort and stability control settings (Sport+).
The BMW Parking Assistant supports the driver from the start in choosing appropriate parking space. Ultrasound sensors integrated in the side indicators measure the length and width of possible parking spaces when traveling at a speed of up to 22 mph. The system thus looks for parking spaces exceeding the length of the car by at least 1.20 meters or 47 inches.
When the BMW Parking Assistant is not activated, this measuring process continues in the background without emitting any particular signals to the driver. But as soon as the driver comes to a stop and shifts into Reverse, the iDrive Control Display informs the driver of a suitable parking space by presenting an appropriate symbol. Once the driver has activated the system, all parking spaces sufficient for the car are presented while driving past. In both cases the driver simply has to press the Controller to use the Parking Assistant.
Acoustic and visual messages from Park Distance Control and from the Top View system help the driver in adjusting the distance from other vehicles or obstacles ahead of or behind the car in the parking space chosen.
In action, it works pretty well and takes about approximately 30 seconds from start to completed park.
BMW’s new 8-speed automatic transmission, or new “Sport Automatic” 8-speed, when compared to the exemplary 6-speed automatic offered in past BMW models, features “taller” cruising gears which make a significant contribution to reduced fuel consumption and emissions, as well as quietness.
The wider spread of ratios allows the engine to run at lower speeds, mainly in the “tallest” gear, 8th. Yet even with this wider spread, the steps between adjacent gears are reduced; in turn this means a stronger, smoother flow of power during acceleration.
And for the same reason, faster shifts are a further benefit because only one clutch pack is disengaged to shift up or down by one or two gears. On the other hand, downshifting more than two gears is accomplished as a direct shift. For example, a downshift from 8th to 2nd gear is made with only one clutch pack disengagement, and thus occurs without stepping down through the intermediate gears.
The 535i has a 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined EPA fuel economy estimate, according to BMW, one of the best in the midsize luxury sedan segment.
To maintain an open discussion, let’s hear about your favorite features of the new 2011 BMW 5 Series.