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It might not be nearly as powerful as the M5, but the 550i still produces a massive 440 horsepower. And, in fact, the 550i employs the same 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 as the M5, and can be equipped with an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
With the eight-speed automatic, fuel-mileage isn't too bad for a high-performance V-8, delivering up to 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The base 550i sends power to the rear wheels, while the 550i xDrive has all-wheel-drive.
The 550i has received minor updates in 2013, most notably the addition of a split fold-down rear seat as a standard feature. The interior has one of the best designs in the class. Though the driver and front-seat passenger have enough space, the same can't be said for rear-seat passengers.
Xenon adaptive headlights turn with the steering wheel, up to 15 degrees left or right, to better illuminate the road as drivers steer into corners. Adaptive technology is also featured in the taillights, which increases brightness depending on the amount of pressure applied to the brake pedal; those driving behind a 550i can tell if it's coming to a slow or abrupt stop.
BMW has shuffled priorities in recent years and now focuses more on interiors than ever before. Dakota leather covers all seating surfaces; the front two seats have heat at the touch of a button, and heat is optional in a rear bench that features a 60/40 split fold-down function and cargo area pass-through.
The automatic climate control has an active micro-filtration feature, and there's a 16-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD and HD Radio capability. The standard navigation can be operated through BMW's iDrive control system. Though an available M Sport Package consists mainly of appearance upgrades, it does include an increased top-speed limiter.
Though the top trim in the 5-series lineup, outside of BMW's M division, the xDrive is identical to the base 550i except for a few key features. The most notable is an all-wheel drive system. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels come with run-flat tires.
Offered only on the 550i, BMW's Executive Package includes a bevy of features sure to delight any CEO. It features: a powered trunk, a heads-up display, a one-year SiriusXM satellite radio subscription, and soft-close automatic door operation that removes the possibility of an annoying "door ajar" alert while driving down the road.
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Not the top performer, but rides beautifully and provides rear seat legroom
No eight-speed transmission offered, yet still does 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds with all-wheel-drive
Handles great with the Quattro system, but has no V8 available
No V8 option, but the modern V6 is fuel-efficient and powerful