BMW redesigned its midsize rear-wheel-drive 5 Series sedan for 2004. These cars have been slightly enlarged and now exhibit a new exterior look. Backseat space and trunk capacity has increased. A new all-aluminum front-end structure helped reduce the car's weight. A simplified version of BMW's iDrive control system was installed.
Borrowed from BMW's larger 7 Series, the new 4.4-liter V-8 developed 325 horsepower. The 5 Series is available in two other forms: the 525 has a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder, and the 530 gets a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder.
For 2005, Park Distance Control is newly standard and Active Steering is available as a stand-alone option or as part of the Sport Package. Xenon adaptive headlights and four-way power lumber support for the front seats are standard. All-wheel-drive versions of the 5 Series will emerge soon, but not for the V-8 model.
Styling of the 545i and its six-cylinder companions reflects the controversial 7 Series, but it is subtler. Short overhangs and what BMW calls "lean-forward dynamics" highlight the design.
A prominent twin-kidney grille continues BMW tradition. The grille is flanked by quad headlights inside luminous rings and beneath clear covers. The 5 Series bodies incorporate BMW's traditional reverse kink at the rear door windows. The contemporary rear end features a high trunk lid.
Adaptive brake lights are standard. An aluminum suspension is installed. Standard tires measure 17 inches in diameter, but 18-inch run-flat performance tires, which are wider at the rear, are included in the Sport Package.
Up to five occupants can fit inside the 545 sedan. Leather upholstery and Dark Poplar wood trim are standard. Maple Anthracite interior trim is available. Front occupants get a 10-way power seat adjustment with a driver memory feature.
The tachometer incorporates a variable warning segment that activates at lower rpm when the engine is cold. Rain-sensing wipers and a 10-speaker Radio Data System CD stereo with twin subwoofers are standard. Sirius Satellite Radio is optional.
A simplified version of BMW's iDrive control system uses a 6.5-inch color display screen. Radar-based Active Cruise Control is optional, while front and rear Park Distance Control is standard.
Under the Hood
The 545's 4.4-liter V-8 features a drive-by-wire throttle; it develops 325 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque. A manual-shift 545 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.7 seconds, while a sedan with the six-speed-automatic transmission is 0.1 second slower to 60 mph.
A six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox is available. Shifted electrohydraulically, the sequential manual incorporates an automatic clutch. Gear changes may be selected using a console-mounted lever or twin paddles on the steering wheel.
Integrated Advanced Head Protection is standard, and side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional. BMW's Dynamic Stability Control stability system can improve control in difficult conditions. Active Roll Stabilization is part of the Sport Package. Active head restraints are available.