Ready to unleash the hushed ferocity of a twin-turbo V8 engine, the 550 sedan is the prime member of BMW's midsize 5 Series. Even though the 550 emphasizes smooth running and plush comfort rather than unfettered performance, it can be equipped to satisfy more spirited drivers. Regardless of how hard it’s pushed, this luxury four-door promises a gratifying road experience for up to five fortunate passengers.
What's New for 2016
Wheel design has changed for 2016, and a power trunk lid is now standard. So are satellite radio and Harman Kardon surround sound. Bang & Olufsen audio is now a standalone option, as are double-spoke bi-color 19-inch wheels. Enhanced USB and Bluetooth includes Mobile Office, an additional microphone, Bluetooth for a second phone, and library browsing.
Choosing Your BMW 550
What separates the 550 from other members of BMW’s 5 Series sits beneath its hood: a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, developing 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission is specially tuned for energetic operation. Selectable driving modes can tweak the car's responses to your personal driving style. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system is available at additional cost.
Fuel economy is estimated at 17 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway (20 mpg combined). With all-wheel drive, the city figure dips to 16 mpg (19 mpg combined).
Inside the 550 are standard 20-way multi-contour front seats, leather upholstery, generous dark wood trim, ambient lighting, four-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry/start, sunroof, and double-spoke 18-inch light alloy wheels. Abundant technology also includes a navigation system, integrated smartphone apps, a rearview camera, front/rear parking sensors, a hands-free power trunk lid, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen display. The standard Harman Kardon 16-speaker sound system features satellite and HD radio, and Bluetooth phone/audio capabilities.
Two optional design lines are available: Luxury and M Sport. The Luxury group includes multi-spoke 19-inch wheels, additional chrome exterior accents, and a variety of interior trim choices. M Sport features a sport-tuned suspension, an aerodynamic body kit, double-spoke 19-inch wheels, and specific M Sport interior trim
BMW offers several option packages for the 550:
- The Executive package boosts the luxury level with automatic soft-close doors, ceramic-trimmed controls and upgraded instrumentation, and a head-up display.
- The Luxury Seating package includes ventilating/massaging front seats.
- Advanced safety technology is the focus of the Driver Assistance Plus package, which bundles blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, side- and top-view cameras, and collision warning/mitigation systems. Active cruise control is an optional extra.
- The Lighting package provides full LED headlights and automatic high beam control.
- Specifying the Dynamic Handling package will tighten up the 550's moves, courtesy of a driver-adjustable adaptive suspension system and active roll stabilization.
Specialized standalone options are offered, including an automated parallel-parking system, four-wheel steering, infrared Night Vision, a premium Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system, and power rear sunshade
For everyday driving, the Driver Assistance Plus package, which provides some valuable safety features, is the most useful addition. We also like the Dynamic Handling Package, which yields tauter handling, but avoids the aggressive styling touches that are part of the M Sport option. Those elements seem rather excessive for a luxury sedan of this nature.