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BMW's 5-Series is back for 2013 with a customarily strong lineup. There are five trims to choose from: 528, 535, 550, Hybrid, and Gran Turismo. The 535i and 535 xDrive sedans offer a 60-horsepower upgrade from 528 models, responsive handling, and a luxurious interior with space enough for five passengers.
Driving enthusiasts will appreciate a standard six-speed manual transmission in the rear-wheel drive 535i. An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional on the 535i, and the only available transmission on the all-wheel drive 535 xDrive.
A 3-liter six-cylinder engine delivers 300 horsepower. Standard in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive 535s are 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto high beams, parking assist, a start-stop fuel-saving feature, split-folding rear seats, 18-way power front seats with memory function, and leather upholstery.
Drivers and passengers access a 535's entertainment functions through its iDrive. This console features a 10.25-inch high-resolution display with four-button access to everything from navigation to radio. The hard drive offers 12GB of storage. Also available, free of charge for four years, is BMW Assist Safety, which offers added security features, live roadside assistance, and Bluetooth connectivity. Also noteworthy is a new Mobile Office feature, which displays email and text messages on the touchscreen, and reads them aloud if the car is in motion.
Safety features include tire pressure monitoring, dynamic brake control, traction and stability control, a rear-view camera, night vision, pedestrian detection, and blind spot alert.
Several upgrade packages are also available, such as the Individual Composition Package, with shadowline exterior trim, piano black detail trim, extended leather trim, and anthracite alcantara headliner. The Technology Package offers several extra features on the instrument panel for easier navigation, smartphone connectivity, live traffic updates, and BMW apps. The Dynamic Handling Package adds adaptive drive and damper control.
The 535i comes standard with 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams and a start-stop feature that conserves fuel by turning the engine off when the car stops. Comfort is in ample supply with 18-way power front seats with memory function and multi-contour technology, split-folding rear seats, wood trim and soft leather upholstery.
The iDrive features a 10.25-inch high-resolution display. A four-button navigation system includes mobile connectivity, CD and radio. The hard drive has 12GB of storage space. The iDrive system also comes with BMW's Assist Safety plan, Bluetooth and live roadside assistance. Also of note is the 535i's new Mobile Office feature, which displays emails and text messages on the center console screen, or reads them to you if the car is in motion. HD Radio rounds out the interior features, providing an excellent range of standard entertainment and convenience features.
The 535i also comes with plenty of safety features, including tire pressure monitoring, dynamic stability and traction control, antilock brakes, brake drying, blind spot detection, a rearview camera, night vision and pedestrian detection.
Drivers seeking further customization have a variety of packages to choose from, such as the Driver Assistance Package, offering rear-, side- and top-cameras, blind spot detection and parking distance control; or the Technology Package, with added instrument panel features, smartphone connectivity, real-time traffic updates and BMW apps.
The 535i xDrive adds all-wheel drive to the 535i.
In-car wireless internet, beautiful interior, but less roomy for passengers
Excellent in-car entertainment and technology, high safety ratings, but somewhat distant steering and handling, and less sporty exterior
Comparably luxurious interior, and perhaps the most similar model to the 5-series. But somewhat cheap interior upholstery and not an overly impressive engine.
Very powerful V8 engine, beautiful interior, but it's not quite as stylish as some other sport models.