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2016 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is a premium midsize hatchback, which isn't exactly the hottest-selling car class. But there's no denying its across-the-board excellence, especially the 550i's astoundingly capable 443-horsepower V8.

This is a car that can take the kids to practice and then show its tail pipes to plenty of hopefuls at the drag strip (should any owner actually want to try such a thing). Beyond the ability to embarrass unsuspecting sports-car drivers, the 5 Series GT enjoys a world-class mix of refinement and practicality. The ride quality is royal (although the optional 20-inch wheels bring it down to mere upper class), and for a vehicle of this size and weight, the handling is outstanding. With up to 60 cu ft. of cargo space behind the front seats, the GT can haul as much as some crossover SUVs.

Looks are, of course, subjective, but the GT's distinct styling is kind of the elephant in the room. The proportions aren't what one would normally describe as graceful -- but when a car is this good, looks are almost beside the point. Perhaps the best way to think of the 5 Series Gran Turismo is as a less expensive, more practical Porsche Panamera.

What's New for 2016?

Steering-wheel-mounted gearshift paddles are standard throughout the range. Improved USB and Bluetooth functions provide voice control for contacts and music, mobile office functions (text, email, calendar, tasks and voice memos) and the ability to sync up a second smartphone. The 550i version also gets a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system as standard, as well as a year's subscription to satellite radio.

What We Like

Excellent engines; exceptional ride/handling balance; sumptuous interior; versatile back seat and cargo area; tons of standard features

What We Don't

Polarizing looks; firm ride with the bigger wheels

How Much?

$61,895-$73,495

Fuel Economy

The 535i Gran Turismo employs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder making 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel economy at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. Adding xDrive all-wheel drive brings those numbers down to 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.

The 550i Gran Turismo has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 generating a formidable 445 hp and 480 lb-ft. Fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined with the standard all-wheel-drive setup.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard in every variant.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo comes in 535i and 550i versions.

The 535i ($61,895) has the 6-cylinder engine, 18-in alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps, fog lights, an electronic limited-slip differential, heated/auto-dimming side mirrors, a self-leveling rear air suspension, auto start/stop, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with lumbar support and driver's-side memory, a power adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-speaker audio system with dual subwoofers, a hard-drive-based iDrive infotainment system with a 10.25-in widescreen display, 12 gigabytes of music storage and touchpad functionality.

The 550i ($73,495) adds the V8 engine, special 18-in wheels, keyless entry/starting, a hands-free foot sensor for the tailgate, a rearview camera, a Harman Kardon auto system, satellite radio and 14-way multicontour front seats.

Options include 19-in and 20-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, adaptive suspension dampers, adaptive cruise control, rear-wheel steering, a self-parking system (for parallel parking), ventilated/massaging front seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, power-closing doors, a head-up display, the 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and a rear entertainment system with twin 9.2-in monitors.

The 5 Series GT's lift gate is divided into two. The lower piece can open independently for access to the area directly behind the rear seats, which is where the 17.7 cu ft. comes from. Unlike conventional hatchbacks and crossovers, which measure trunk space all the way up to the ceiling, the 5 Series GT's smaller measurement refers only to the trunklike compartment behind the lift gate's lower half. It's a useful amount of space: When you open up the entire thing and fold the rear seats down, there's 60 cu ft. available. This is a healthy number that makes the GT comparable to smaller luxury crossovers.

Safety

Standard safety features include stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain).

A Driver Assistance Plus package brings side-view/top-view cameras, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure assist, forward-collision mitigation with automatic braking and a night-vision display with pedestrian detection.

In government crash tests, the 5 Series Gran Turismo received a perfect five stars overall, with four stars for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.

Behind the Wheel

When you're sliding into the Gran Turismo's driver's seat, the first impression is one of unexpected elevation. The GT has more of a crossover-style ride height, so instead of a seat that you plop into, you're already at hip level when you buckle up. Although the standard 10-way power front seats are excellent, the 14-way multicontour seats (standard on the 550i) belong in any conversation about the best car seats in the world.

The gauges will be familiar to BMW fans, employing classic white-on-black numerals that change to orange on black at night. Interior materials are top-notch, and the graceful dashboard design is basically the same as the previous-generation 7 Series. The widescreen iDrive display looks great, and the latest iDrive controller can read handwriting via its touchpad.

One area in which the 5 Series Gran Turismo outdoes its sedan siblings is rear-passenger comfort. The bottom cushions provide plenty of thigh support, and the seats recline for added relaxation potential. They also slide forward and back.

Acceleration is strong and smooth with the 535i's inline 6-cylinder, but the star is the 550i's twin-turbo V8. Such power is almost absurd for something with a raised ride height, making this BMW a match for all but the very quickest production cars. The V8 is also unbelievably refined.

The 5 Series Gran Turismo drives exactly like what it is: a tall 5 Series (which is based on a 7 Series). Some drivers will prefer a lower center of gravity, but many others will appreciate the commanding view of the road. That's not to say that the Gran Turismo doesn't handle well. It's actually one of the best-handling family vehicles around, displaying remarkable cornering composure for something so big and heavy.

The GT really hits its stride on the highway. Stability at speed seems tailor-made for those sections of German autobahn that have no speed limits. However, the optional 20-in wheels reduce the ride quality in a noticeable way. You should stick with the standard 18-in wheels or the optional 19-in wheels at the most.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe -- The GLE Coupe is more of a rival for the X6, but the redesigned and renamed GLE crossover SUV (formerly known as the M-Class) now offers a version with a sloping roof and a range of strong engines.

2016 Porsche Panamera -- If you like unusual-looking luxury vehicles, you should check the price on the GT once all your options have been added. It might be possible to buy a new or lightly used Panamera for the same kind of money. And the 4-seater Panamera is an epic car.

2016 Volkswagen Touareg -- The Touareg is less expensive, drives well and has a nice interior, a wonderful back seat and far more off-road capability than the Gran Turismo.

Used Land Rover Range Rover Sport -- It could be argued that the Range Rover Sport looks cooler than the 5 Series Gran Turismo. Land Rover's certified pre-owned program makes a lightly used version relatively affordable.

Autotrader's Advice

Few engines are better than a smooth German V8, making the 550i a strong temptation. This is a niche vehicle, however, so be sure your requirements match what the 5 GT has to offer.

Find a BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2016 BMW 5 Series
Used 2016 BMW 5 Series
$29,450
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo: New Car Review - Autotrader