This should be the slowest 5 Series that BMW offers. It's got a diminutive 3.0-liter in-line six with a scant 215 bhp powering all four wheels. Oh, and it's an automatic. So, at 3660 pounds unladen, it's not a lightweight by any means.
The thing is, the six-speed auto is so perfectly geared that the car actually feels quick. It's the same kind of miracle Honda pulled off with its NSX in the early '90s. You stop worrying about horsepower contests when you're behind the wheel and go about your business in a brisk, flowing manner.
BMW claims the auto will tag 60 mph in a hair over eight seconds, which by today's standards is a bit slower than average. But then again, the previous 525i (E39) could just about manage the same zero-to-60 time, and that was without the 210-pound all-wheel drive system strapped below.
This system can infinitely vary the amount of power going to the front or rear wheels. During everyday driving it's difficult to notice, and in more sporting situations, it's basically passive, sending 100 percent of the power out back.
Near-perfect weight distribution is barely changed (it's 1.6 percent heavier up front, at 51.8/48.2). All-wheel drive doesn't seem to affect gas mileage much, either. We saw mpg figures in the high 20s when cruising at 70 mph on the interstate. The 525xi does what it does surprisingly well.
Would I buy one? Don't be ridiculous. The 550i six-speed exists, doesn't it?
2006 BMW 525xi
Longitudinal front engine,all-wheel drive
3.0-liter in-line six, dohc,four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 215 bhp @ 6250 rpm
Peak Torque: 185 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
0-60 mph: 8.2 sec.
Top Speed: 150 mph
Fuel Economy: 19 city/28 hwy
Price as Tested: $45,700
From the Hip
+ Gearing well suited to the smallish engine
- That smallish six-cylinder engine