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BMW 5-Series
BMW 5-Series

Having been with us since 1996, the current-generation BMW 5-Series nonetheless looks and feels fresh. Even after all that time, it still is the benchmark by which all true sport sedans are measured; indeed, in strictly sport sedan terms (such as handling, steering, braking and acceleration), few even come close. The 5 (and all BMWs, for that matter) have a connection to the road that is at once indescribable and addictive. If you haven't driven one before, do it. You'll like it.

In terms of luxury, the 5 neither overwhelms nor disappoints. Its interior is somewhat tighter than some of its competitors, and the optional navigation system is a bit fussy, yet there is no particular area in which the 5 comes up short. The intimacy of its cabin is intentional, fostering as it does the purposefulness of its driving dynamics. Rear seat passengers, however, somewhat less engaged in the task of piloting the vehicle, might complain of lack of knee room. But they won't be complaining about the delicious leather seats, the lovely wood trim (cool aluminum on some models), nor the quality of the plastics and fabrics that play supporting roles.

Power comes via your choice of a 2.5-liter inline-6 (184 hp), a 3.0-liter inline-6 (225 hp), and a 4.4-liter V-8 (290 hp), all of which can be mated to either manual or automatic transmissions. The autobahn-storming M5 has 4.9-liter V-8 (394 hp) mated to a six-speed manual.

Noteworthy is that the 5 comes in both sedan and wagon bodystyles. Like the sedan, the wagon doesn't boast a whole lotta room, even behind the rear seats, but for those who like that added bit of irony of driving a wagon that can keep up with Porsches and musclecars, there is some added appeal.