BMW launches the 2011 5-series with specs and photos on its Web site.
Wayne CunninghamManaging Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
BMW released full details and photos of the new, 2011 5-series, representing a pretty significant update to the company's midsize sport-luxury sedan. An entirely new platform was developed, and is now shared between the 5-series and the new 7-series. The 550i model and 750i also share a power plant, a twin turbo 4.4-liter V-8. In the 550i, this engine produces 407 horsepower, bringing the car to 60 mph in 5 seconds. Other U.S. models are the 535i, powered by the same twin turbo 3-liter straight-six as the previous model, and a 528i.
The new 5-series serves as a platform for a host of driver aid technologies. Lane Change Warning alerts you to other cars in your blind spots while lane departure warning lets you know when you're drifting across lane lines. A night view system shows an enhanced display of the road on the LCD when it's dark out, and includes a pedestrian detection feature. Adaptive cruise control lets you set a cruising speed, and have the car slow down to match speeds with slower traffic ahead.
One of the more surprising driver aid features is automated parallel parking. This system is made possible by BMW's adoption of an electric power steering module for the 5-series. It uses sonar to determine if a parking space is long enough for the car, then automatically steers the wheel as you handle the gas and brake.
The 5-series gets the latest version of iDrive, but BMW is actually making it standard on all models. That means you get an LCD in the car whether you've chosen the navigation option or not. Without navigation, the LCD is a little smaller, and shows audio, phone, climate, and other car functions.