SEE ALSO: BMW Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 36,045 Price As Tested $ 46,610 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 2.5 Liter I6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 152 cid/2494 cc Horsepower 184 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 175 @ 3500 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 111.4"/70.9"/188.0" Transmission Five-speed automatic with Steptronic Curb Weight 3680 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) 225/55R16 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.30 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/27/23 0-60 MPH 8.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 15.5 @ 97.0 mph Top-speed 128 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - BMW has been in a pitch battle for the lead in the luxury-performance market for a while and our test car is a example of its commitment to excellence. The 2001 BMW 525i sedan is an all-new entry and it's an accessible member of the 5-Series that tops out with the super-powerful M5. Our car is priced at $3,500 less than the last version and it extends BMW's market reach. It carries a potent 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder that pumps out 184 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. There's an optional 3.0-liter powerplant but our smaller version gave more than enough "oomph" for any situation we found ourselves in. The one we tried came with BMW's optional Steptronic automatic transmission as well as Adaptive Transmission Control, a system that automatically "learns" the drivers driving style and adjusts itself automatically. The Steptronic part lets the driver shift manually by flicking the lever forward for upshifts, and rearward for downshifts. There is also a "Sport" mode that causes the shifts to take place at higher engine speeds for livelier performance when the spirit moves the driver. This kind of automatic-stick-shift is becoming common on luxury cars.
MIKELE - I hadn't driven many BMW's in that past, but after spending time at the wheel, I've fallen in love with them. Our 525i handled the turns like a dream but it also had a smooth ride that would have pleased my grandma and it's ultra-quiet as well. BMW brags that its lightweight multi-link rear suspension and four aluminum arms at each wheel are what give it precise handling and excellent steering. It was truly one of the sweetest riding vehicles I've driven since we started writing this column. The interior was very nice. It had comfortable leather-covered seats with power adjustments, and some eye-catching color-keyed high-gloss trim. Our car had BMW's Cold Weather Package that added heated seats and even a heated steering wheel, which feels heaven-sent on a cold morning. Four cupholders and a single disc CD player round out the impressive interior.The power moonroof was very nice when it was clear outside, and the fold-down rear seats even had a ski bag. Unfortunately we haven't been in the snow this year, thanks to your forever healing broken foot.
BRENDAN - I'll be more careful next year, honey. The exterior of the 525i definitely lets you know it's a BMW, especially its trademark twin-kidney chrome-plated grille that's instantly recognizable. The characteristic BMW double headlamps are surrounded by light-focus rings, which also function as parking lights. The bumpers are color-coded to perfectly match the body, and the taillights have a "clear-look" and have four LED lights in each unit. A new front spoiler also has "clear-look" round fog lights inserted into it. Last year the 5_Series had oblong fog lights. I guess changing the shape was done so that the older 5-Series would look "dated." Sixteen-inch alloy wheels and all season radial tires top off the exterior but the car doesn't drip with too many accents. BMWs have never been gaudy, and the 525i is true to this concept.
MIKELE - Safety is one of its strong points, and it has driver and passenger airbags that are impact-dependent. They "detect" the severity of a crash and inflate to the level needed to maximize protection. Front side and head airbags are also standard and rear seat airbags can be special ordered. Front and rear crumple-zones absorb part of the impact energy as well, and the front safety belts have automatic height adjustment, tensioners, and force limiters. Also, the rear belts have automatic locking retractors for the installation of child restraint seats. The 525i is safe, fast and luxurious - a great combination. Maybe we can afford one someday.
BRENDAN - First things first, honey. Number one priority right now is season tickets and box seats at the ball games.
MIKELE - And my friends say that you're impractical.