2017 BMW 5 Series Driving Impressions

The new engines feel good. The four cylinder neither feels like a four nor accelerates like one, with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s smooth and always there. The inline six cylinder is smooth and fast, with 335 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. Zero to sixty in 4.7 seconds, with all-wheel drive to get it off the line without wheelspin. It puts the final nail in the coffin of the V8. In fact, it steals the name 540i from the departed V8 model.

With such a good eight-speed automatic transmission, a manual transmission isn’t missed. It has paddle shifters, but we didn’t use them much because the transmission’s shift logic was spot-on.

Despite the hard run-flat tires, the ride of the BMW 5 isn’t harsh on rough pavement. With the optional adaptive dampers, handling and ride are above average. The three modes are Normal, Comfort and Sport. Comfort isn’t too soft and Sport isn’t too firm.

Another option is rear-wheel steering BMW calls Integral Active Steering. It counter-steers the rear wheels at low speeds to tighten turning, in parking lots, for example. At high speeds, it quickens the turn-in to corners, but we found it unnerving, like the rear end was skating through turns. In cars without rear steering, the 5 Series is flat, composed, and low drama. So, we’d be inclined to pass on the active steering.

The electric power steering (standard) is recalibrated for 2017, but there’s still a big dead spot on center, in Comfort mode (the default mode). The Sport mode adds some weight to the steering, which is especially felt with the optional and thick M Sport steering wheel. The steering doesn’t feel linear on curvy roads.

We found the optional M Sport brakes reduced stopping distances, but it’s hard to justify their very high cost unless you take the car to the track, and this isn’t an M3.

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