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2007 BMW 5 Series

Martha Hindes

2007 BMW 5 Series
2007 BMW 5 Series Interior

If luxury sport and volume leader don't seem synonymous, check out BMW. The Bavarian auto maker offers five sedans and a wagon, in rear or all-wheel-drive, in its popular 5 Series lineup for North American buyers. Unlike its pricier and confusingly complex 7 Series, it seems to have hit just the right balance between what's enough advanced technology and what would be too much. It hasn't garnered the criticisms earlier heaped on the 7 Series for having so much high tech that drivers had a hard time getting used to it.

For 2007, the 5 Series brings home some second year honors after a remake a year ago. It also adds wisely chosen advanced technology functions that promise to appeal to a broader audience without requiring a degree in electronics. One new amenity is night vision (tried and apparently abandoned by GM on some upscale vehicles a number of years ago). That makes the assumption that BMW drivers will spend the time it takes to get used to seeing distant people, animals or other warm objects loom up in ghostly white on the centered navigation screen during night driving and won't mind paying the price to do it.

As part of a new Sport Package, there's a three-spoke steering wheel, 20-position "Multi-contour" seats with active headrest restraints that spring forward to prevent whiplash in a rear-end collision, and a new tire pressure monitor to replace the previous flat tire warning system. New high definition radio is available that boosts each audio type up a notch. (FM becomes CD quality, for example.) The 5 Series vehicles with nav system screen get the bonus of Real Time Traffic information. A brake drying function is added to stability control.

With a vehicle that's legendary in its point-and-shoot precision driving capability, the 5 Series is a comfortable mid-ground with three different powerplant configurations, new a year ago, from a 3.0L, 215-HP magnesium/aluminum inline six to a 4.8L, 360-HP V8. Manual or automatic transmissions are six-speed.

Base pricing starts at $44,195. Best mileage is 17/25