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Go In Snow - 2018 BMW M550i xDrive Review By Larry Nutson

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2018 BMW M550i xDrive
Very engaging

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

BMW refers to its 5-series as the world’s most successful business sedan. Now for 2018 BMW is helping to get you to that business meeting a bit quicker with the introduction of the fastest 5-series to date.

The new-for-2018 M550i has a 456-horsepower V8 coupled to BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive with rear-wheel bias and a bespoke M Performance chassis set-up. It’ll go from zero-to 60 mph in 3.9-seconds, which is plenty quick.

All this doesn’t come cheap. Base price is $73,400 and it goes up from there with options.

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I had the pleasure of a week’s seat time driving a new M550i that all loaded up had a bottom line of $88,985. Standard from the M Performance division are sport brakes, 19-inch wheels and M-trim, plus the premium package, multi-contour seats with leather upholstery, rearview camera, adaptive suspension, and unique styling cues both inside and out. Options included the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, Night Vision with pedestrian protection, Dynamic Handling that adds adaptive suspension and active roll stabilization, and more.

The 5-series was redesigned for 2017 adding more room and more technology. Technology in new vehicles today is jumping ahead in leaps and bounds and bringing lots of change. Along with the M550i the other 5-series models are the four-cylinder 530i, the hybrid 530e iPerformance and the six-cylinder 540i, each offered in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Prices start at $52,400.

I’m personally not a fan of blue cars, however I found the media-loaner’s combination of Mediterranean Blue Metallic and Cognac Dakota Leather quite striking. If I were doing the spending I’d keep the same interior color and probably choose a grey exterior.

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The entire interior of the M550i is quite stylish and plush and yet, restrained. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom front and rear, so your business colleagues should be comfortable. For the driver there’s good outward visibility and controls and instruments are easy to read and operate. The 20-way power seat plus the power-adjustable steering wheel let you get the perfect driving position.

My driving was on a mix of Chicago city streets and a few of the surrounding highways. The suspension does a good job of soaking up road imperfections with no teeth-jarring bumps. As you would expect from this BMW, handling is precise, firm, compliant and very confident. Tire sizes are staggered with 245/40s up front on 8-inch wide rims and 275/35s in the rear on 9-inch wide rims.

I should make one brief comment about tires. If this were my car I would indeed drive it year round but equip it with a good set of four winter tires…from Thanksgiving to Tax time…since I live in a cold and snowy part of the U.S.

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The V8 is quiet until such time when you floor it, then things open up. The 8-speed automatic has Sport and Manual shift modes, with shift paddles for the performance minded. EPA test-cycle estimate are 19 mpg combined with 16 city mpg and 25 highway mpg highway. BMW’s, like many other vehicles, have an engine idle stop/start feature that shuts off the engine at full stops. What I like about BMW’s is that you can elect to shut off that system and it stays off, not defaulting to being activated again at the next engine restart.

I didn’t do any fuel consumption measurements, but with the 18-gallon fuel tank you should be good for around 450 miles of highway driving. My personal experience with BMWs is that you can pretty easily exceed the EPA highway rating even while cruising at spirited highway speeds.

The trunk holds 18.7 cuft, which should be good for two sets of golf clubs or your luggage for that weekend getaway.

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More information and specifications on the entire 5-series model range can be found at All-in-all no matter what model you choose, they all will be a joy to drive.

If I were shopping for a new 5-series with consideration of my daily driving and overall annual usage pattern, the M550i probably would not be my choice. The 530i xDrive with the 248-HP four-cylinder gets to 60mph in 5.8 seconds and the 540i xDrive with the 335-HP six-cylinder gets to 60mph in 4.7 seconds. Both cars are quick in their own right and have plenty of performance to negotiate our crowded and congested roadways.

The company that brings you “the ultimate driving machine” gives you varied choices of the ultimate.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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