For 2012, the BMW 5-Series is offered with three different engines--designated by the models 528, 535 and 550. A 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder is standard on 528 models; 535 models get a turbocharged 3.0l six. A twin-turbo 4.4L V8 engine making 407 horsepower powers the 550. All three models are offered with rear-wheel or xDrive all-wheel drive. The 535 and 550 models come with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, while the 528 is offered with a new 8-speed automatic transmission with taller overdrive gears aimed at offering higher fuel economy. The 5-Series also includes BMW's Brake Energy Regeneration system, which charges the battery when the car is decelerating or braking, rather than running the alternator all the time.
The M5 model resides at the top of BMW's performance lineup. It's powered by a 560-hp version of the twin-turbo 4.4L V8. Power gets to the road via a seven-speed M DCT automated manual transmission. The M5 utilizes a specially tuned sport suspension and unique cross-drilled disc brakes. If the brute force and roaring exhaust note aren't enough, M5-specific wheels, a special spoiler, and air diffuser further distinguish it from the rest of the 5-Series.
The 5-Series models have a roomy interior, with 10-way adjustable front seats that are excellent for long trips, enough back seat space for adults and a trunk with an impressive 18.2 cubic feet of space. The instrument panel looks much like the one offered in the 7-series, with updated black panel displays and new steering wheel mounted navigation controls. BMW's iDrive system returns, but with an updated interface aimed at being easier to use.
BMW offers an array of technological features on its 5-Series, including a Top View camera system to aid the driver in seeing while parking and a Parking Assistant, which at speeds up to 22 mph, automatically scans the curb for large enough parking spaces for the car. Once a space is selected by the driver and the car is put in reverse, the computer takes over, controlling the steering and parking the car, with the driver only working the gas and brake. Active Roll Stabilization simulates much stiffer anti-roll bars with an electronically controlled pump system and Active Steering helps steer the car back toward a more stable situation when the electronic stability control intervenes.
Front side-impact and head-protecting airbags for front and rear outboard occupants are standard. Rear side airbags are optional.
To help increase alertness and safety, BMW has designed a lane departure warning system. A clever night vision system is available, which helps spot and avoid animals in the darkness ahead, and a new Side View system mounts cameras in both front fenders, allowing the driver to see around corners that might otherwise be blind. BMW's active cruise control is one of the most advanced offered, capable of even stopping and restarting the vehicle in traffic. Other unusual options include a heads-up display, high-definition (HD) radio and a high-beam assist feature.
Following a significant redesign last year, the BMW 5-series enters 2012 largely unchanged, though the 528i replaces its inline-6 with a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder, which produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The unit is mated to an 8-speed automatic. BMW xDrive is also now available on the 528i.