2011 BMW 5-Series
With sporty moves and room for a family, BMW’s midsize 5-Series sports sedan has long been a segment benchmark and a MotorWeek favorite. But the all-new 2011 5-Series is something of a renaissance. While still packing a technology and powertrain wallop, it appears less aggressive and more executive. So let’s see if this really is progress.
Right off the mark, our visual take on the 6th generation 2011 BMW 5-Series is that it reminds us a lot more of the current flagship 7-Series than its direct predecessor. Yes, the twin kidney grille is naturally still there, but the previous 5’s Bangle-ized eyebrows are gone.
On the profile, the look is smoother but the character lines are more defined, all stretched over a 2-inch longer body, with a more telling, 3.2 inch longer wheelbase. The L-shaped LED taillights mimic the 7, while the rest of the toned down rear also looks more business than pleasure.
Top and bottom power are familiar. The 528i dons a three-liter straight six, rated at 240 horsepower, a bump up of 10. The 550i borrows the 7’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo 400 horsepower V8. Our 535i has the new powertrain, BMW’s latest 3-liter that trades two turbos for one twin-scroll unit. Output is unchanged, however, at 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.
A proper 6-speed manual is still standard on the six-cylinders, while optional with a six and standard on the V8 is BMW’s new gas saving eight-speed automatic.
Indeed, lots of Efficient Dynamics technologies have found their way into the 2011 5-Series, including regenerative brakes, electric power steering, and engine accessories that only produce engine drag when in use. Later in the year, x-Drive all-wheel drive will become available across the 5-Series lineup.
It didn’t take more than a few minutes at the track, however, to reassure ourselves that this more sedate looking 5 hasn’t dialed back performance one bit. Quick shifting our 535i’s manual delivers 0 to 60 in an impressive, and quite quiet, six seconds flat. The quarter mile mark came up in 14.5 seconds at 98 miles per hour. Both numbers getting close to the 5-Series GT V8 we tested last spring.
Just as laudable was our average 60 to 0 stopping distance of a very short 116 feet. The pedal wasn’t the firmest, but feedback was good, and fade nonexistent, from the all-wheel vented disc brakes.
Still, our handling test would be the big hurdle, an area where the previous 5-Series was a champion. Turn-ins are still quick, even if the electric power steering is a little numb. More curb weight means slightly more body roll, even in stiffer sport mode, but there’ s still little lack of poise, thanks to a new multi-link front suspension. So, when all was said and done, we were very happy.
I didn’t want to like the new 2011 BMW 5-Series. It got bigger, more luxurious, and less like the cars that I’ve always loved. Or so I thought. Sitting behind the wheel, it does feel like a 7-Series, and out on the highway it’s so smooth and quiet. But on back roads when you turn that wheel, well, everything I’ve always loved about a BMW sports sedan is front and center. My conclusion the new 5-Series is a great car.
Inside, the new 5’s interior also takes on the 7’s more luxurious appeal. Our 535i came dressed to really impress with optional wood trim. BMW’s sensible, classy, horizontal architecture now has well-integrated 21st-century touches like adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning system.
The fourth generation of iDrive appears either on a seven-inch screen recessed atop the now canted center stack, or with optional navigation on a larger 10.2-inch screen.
Rear seat knee room improves very slightly, while comfort is still above par for second-row passengers. 40/60 split-fold functionality is optional, as is a center pass-through.
In Government Fuel Economy Ratings, our manual 535i is rated at a decently frugal 19 miles per gallon city/28 highway. We managed an average of 22.3 miles per gallon on premium gas. On sale now, the 528i starts at $45,425. Our 535i begins at $50,475, and the 550i has a base sticker of $60,575.
With equal parts thrill and finesse, BMW has clearly taken the right path with this thoroughly modern car. Moreover, the 2011 BMW 5-Series remains one slick-shifting, fine-driving, midsize German sports sedan icon.
- Engine: 3-Liter Turbo
- Horsepower: 300
- Torque: 300 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 6.0 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5 Seconds @ 98 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 116 Feet
- EPA: 19 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 22.3 MPG
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970