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2012 BMW 5 Series Road Test : Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide

2012 BMW 5 Series Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks

Audi A6

Infiniti M

BMW 5 Series

Jaguar XF

Chrysler 300

Hyundai Equus

If you want to have your luxury driving fun without feeling guilty, does BMW have a car for you! A techy sounding dynamics technology in the 2012 BMW 5 Series' 528i gives it more guts, less thirst and an ability to road hunt with jackrabbit nimbleness without incurring gas guzzler remorse in the process.

This -- would you believe -- is thanks to something U.S. buyers have never before seen on any luxury BMW 5 Series sedan. That's a four cylinder engine giving it power. And that is not a misprint, although it must seem like a contradiction in terms of a luxury auto from the Bavarian auto maker that virtually invented "point and shoot" driving.

The BMW 528i is the junior grade member of the three vehicle 5 Series lineup that includes two twin turbocharged Gran Turismo models, the 550i V-8 and the 535i inline six. Both are available with xDrive, BMW's name for its all-wheel-drive system. The xDrive also becomes available as an option on the 528i for 2012. And because of the model's broader popularity, it could be the ideal place to introduce some planet pampering changes being added this year.

Remember the first time you were near a hybrid auto at a stop light? If your window was down, you might have noticed it suddenly went silent as if it had stalled out. That kind of stop/start technology has been morphing into non-hybrid vehicles lately. And the 528i gets a first taste of BMW's Engine Auto Stop/Start system for 2012 that will turn off power at stops or when traffic moves at a crawl, then quickly kick it back to life when the accelerator is tapped.

The new 2.0-liter four, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission in the 528i doesn't lose any punch from a year ago either. It pumps out 240-horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque that excels for those grunt-powered quick starts and in passing mode. Those numbers beat out last year's 3.0-liter inline 6 engine it replaces. But the best numbers gained are improvements in fuel economy -- 23 city and 34 highway for a combined 27 MPG rating, an eight percent gain overall from the 2011 model.

As if that isn't enough and your conscience needs a little more tweaking, there's more. At the risk of introducing an eye-glazing list of geek-speak terminology, we'll simply add a few other energy-saving pluses: The 528i's current lighter weight construction takes less horsepower to move. The braking system now captures back energy as electricity during stopping that otherwise would dissipate as heat. And BMW's standard ECO PRO mode can be turned on or off by the driver with a switch. It will adjust heating, air conditioning, heated mirror or seat heating to reduce fuel consumption to match driving conditions, so those shouldn't even be noticed on a hot or a cold day. But a kind of "good job" pat on the back is displayed in expanded driving range numbers.

If the idea of owning a BMW is for the thrill of driving it and the cushy amenities it offers, that hasn't been forgotten.

For the truly techy, Smart phone integration now is included in "BMW APPS," available as a stand alone option. Base pricing for the 528i starts at $46,900 before adding $895 in mandated destination and delivery charges. And that includes such standard features as moonroof, HD Radio, BMW Assist with Bluetooth connectivity, adaptive light control and Run-flat tires. Up the price a bit and available add-ons include the sport package (at $4,800), luxury seating with power rear sunshade and front ventilated seats ($2,400), premium sound ($950), technology package with navi and rear view camera ($1,850) and active cruise control ($2,400).
And perhaps the ultimate question for anyone considering a 2012 BMW 528i is a continuation of that longstanding precision driving ability that's synonymous with the name. If a 0 to 60 mph run-up in just 6.2 seconds (0.4 seconds faster than last year) doesn't convince you, we don't know what will.

For more info on the BMW 5 series, click here.