One way to think of the 2017 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is as a smaller, less expensive, more practical Porsche Panamera. This is a premium midsize hatchback that can take the kids to soccer practice, but also has the ability to embarrass unsuspecting sports-car drivers.
The 5 Series GT enjoys a world-class mix of refinement and practicality as well. The ride quality is royal (although the optional 20-in 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. There’s no denying its across-the-board excellence, especially with the 550i’s astoundingly capable 443-horsepower V8.
But the GT’s distinct styling does need to be addressed. Looks are, of course, subjective, but these proportions aren’t what one would normally describe as graceful. When a car is this good, however, appearances might be considered beside the point.
What’s New for 2017?
There are no changes for this model year. See the 2017 BMW 5 Series models for sale near you
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
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 mpg in the city, 27 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 xDrive Gran Turismo has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 generating a formidable 445 hp and 480 lb-ft. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined with the standard all-wheel drive setup.
An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard in every variant.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo comes in 535i and 550i xDrive versions.
The 535i ($61,895) has the 6-cylinder engine, 18-in alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps, fog lights, electronic limited-slip differential, heated/auto-dimming side mirrors, self-leveling rear air suspension, auto start/stop, power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with lumbar support and driver’s-side memory, power-adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, 12-speaker audio system with dual subwoofers, 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 and all-wheel drive, special 18-in wheels, keyless entry/start, hands-free foot sensor for the tailgate, rearview camera, Harman Kardon auto system, satellite radio, and 14-way multi-contour front seats.
Options include 19-in and 20-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, adaptive suspension dampers, adaptive cruise control, rear-wheel steering, self-parking system (parallel), heated/ventilated/massaging front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, power-closing doors, head-up display, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and a rear entertainment system with twin 9.2-in monitors.
The 5 Series GT’s liftgate 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, where trunk space is measured all the way up to the ceiling, the 5 Series GT’s smaller measurement refers only to the trunk-like compartment behind the liftgate’s lower half. It’s a useful amount of space. Opening the entire thing and folding down the rear seats creates 60 cubic feet — a healthy number that makes the GT comparable to smaller luxury crossovers.
Standard safety features include stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side, full-length side curtain).
A Driver Assistance Plus package brings side-view/top-view cameras, blind spot monitoring, 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
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 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 multi-contour seats (standard on 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 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 unbelievably refined twin-turbo V8. Such power is almost absurd for something with a raised ride height, making this BMW a match for all but the quickest production cars.
The 5 Series Gran Turismo drives exactly like what it is — a tall 5 Series. Some drivers will prefer a lower center of gravity, but many others will appreciate a commanding view of the road. That’s not to say 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 worsen the ride quality noticeably. Stick with the standard 18-inch wheels or the optional 19-inch wheels at the most.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe — This is more of a rival for the X6, but the GLE crossover SUV now offers a version with a sloping roof and a range of strong engines.
2017 Porsche Panamera — Check the price on the 5 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.
2017 Volkswagen Touareg — Less expensive, drives well, has a nice interior, a wonderful back seat and far more off-road capability than the 5 Series 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, and Land Rover’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program makes a lightly used version relatively affordable.
This is a somewhat unusual choice, so be sure it meets your requirements to the letter. Also, there’s a new generation of 5 Series sedan that’s fresh for the 2017 model year, while this GT version is based on the outgoing generation. When the 2018 model year comes around, there will be an all-new version called the 6 Series Gran Turismo.