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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 12-11-2010, 04:26 PM
tdepetra tdepetra is offline
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2011 535Xi Standard model 5,000 Mile Review

With a little more than 5,000 miles completed, I still look forward to driving my car every time I push the start button and, truthfully, glance back at it every time I park it and walk away. Choosing the Dark Graphite and Oyster/Anthracite trim was easy -- for me, it is visually stunning and has a classic look. The car has not been in the service department except for an initial oil change at nearly 3,000 miles.

ORDERING CONSIDERATIONS:

Before ordering, I was not impressed with the exterior styling. The front end looked odd and the rear seemed almost generic to the styling trends of automakers today. Seeing the actual car at the dealer was somewhat better, but I was still not crazy about the exterior. I WAS crazy about the interior, believing it was the best mix of elegance and functionality. With the test drive in early August, the demo was a pretty basic RWD car that I thought handled reasonably well. I thought the stop and go driving was a bit jerky, but assumed the car would behave better with a few more miles. The steering was definitely more luxury than sport, but I also assumed I'd adjust over time. There was no vague on-center feel, pulling, etc., and it was not at all difficult to keep the car moving straight, even in the wind.

Since the delivery of my car, the more I drive it, the more I have come to love its exterior and interior styling. The most common remark I have heard from other people seeing the car for the first time was something to the effect, "It looks fast even when it's standing still." As you can see from the pictures here, I removed the X-Drive badges immediately after delivery, and kept right on going by also debagging the rear of the car. I'm really glad it did, because it looks so much cleaner.

For me, the right blend of luxury and technology biased my ordering process, and living in snow country, the X-drive was most logical, both from the practical and resale perspectives. I was advised by RWD aficionados that X-drive was going to be a mistake. Quite the contrary -- it was not at all. Being a tech junkie, I wanted the HUD, night vision, Side and Top View cameras, Navigation, Premium Entertainment system, etc. More on each of them later. The point is, I didn't opt for the Sport Package/Dynamic handling, etc. Part of my reasoning also had to do with the 19" wheel/run-flat/pothole problem we have here.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The first 500 miles or so, the car had the same mild jerkiness as the demo, but after the transmission learned my driving habits it normalized. I immediately liked the electro-hydraulic steering better than the EPS on the demo car. As the miles began to pile up, the performance and smoothness of the car continued improving.

I drive a lot. Commuting alone is 130 miles per day, so the Multi-contour seats were a must. They don't disappoint, although I can understand some people being bothered by losing the side bolster adjustments. The heated seat function is extraordinary, with adjustability of heat settings for bottom cushion and seat back. The heat comes fast and high, but seems to settle down after the initial surge. The heated steering wheel is also very good, although it does not heat where the wheel intersects the spokes. The heated steering wheel does not have an auto shutoff, which takes some getting used to.

Interior storage is very poor and probably a function of German engineers' ideas of what should be and simply shouldn't be! Cup holders are marginal and other interior storage is limited. It takes adjusting to. The trunk size is quite good until you put a full sized spare in it. The powered trunk and soft-close doors I have come to appreciate more and more. It's nice to not have to worry about whether your door is closed or not.

The transmission is quite a piece of art. D mode gives you a very different experience than DS, because it is programmed to get the car in the highest gear ASAP. It succeeds, with some tendency to hang around 1,110-1,200 rpm a little more often than I'm used to, although there is enough torque near that range to not be a real problem. I believe it starts in 2nd, and with 7th and 8th both being overdrive ratios, I can understand why gas mileage is so good at 30-31 pure highway and 22-24 city. Of course, if you don't want that kind of mpg, you can spend more time in DS mode, where the car starts in 1st and won't go higher than 6th, which is a 1-1 ratio. I like DS mode when I am on on-ramps and/or placing the car where I need it to be in fast-moving traffic or other need-for-control situations. All of this comes with a sort of growl, which I like. What I don't like is there is practically no engine braking when going from D to DS or shifting manually -- only higher rpm on the tach. I believe that is related to the design of the fuel-saving charging system.

The brakes are amazing, and perform exactly like you'd expect them to after you look at the size of the rotors and calipers. The tire tech who installed my winter tire/wheels said, "Holy s---, look at the size of those things." I have no problems with the steering at all, and probably won't until the day I long for sore arms and tight parking spaces. On the road, the steering works for me very well, considering it is a 116 inch wheelbase, 4,300 lb. 4 door sedan.

I have fretted over the loss of the dipstick and the run-flat tires/no jack/no spare syndrome enough. Winter tires and rims are on the car and a full sized spare in the trunk. I hard to get over it. I have the Goodyear LS-2 Runflats and had no problems with them. I switched them out for Michelin X-Ice on Moda MD-11 wheels from Tire Rack and have been very pleased with them as well. I have had zero oil consumption.

Audio System: Awesome. Settings take time to adjust to. Bass and graphic equalizer in neutral settings are terrible, so you have to fiddle with it. End result is fabulous, but varies greatly by the way music is recorded. "Garbage in, garbage out." My music tastes range from ZZ Tops, Pink Floyd and the Doors to Frank Sinatra Diana Krall and everything in between, including some classical. It all works perfectly. I also like the instrument panel steering wheel control for stations and mode. The FM range/antenna strength is somewhat disappointing for non-HD stations, however.

I-DRIVE: Simple and intuitive. Nobody can say it's hard anymore with a straight face. Memory buttons also are easy to use and give you diverse functions to store.

Climate Control: Versatile and easy to use. Quiet (except with gale-force front defroster). Fortunately, everything is manually adjustable, as well as automatic. Love it.

HUD: Yes, it does not work well with polarized sunglasses, and yes, I still love it, especially with guidance on the navigation system and the other data it presents.

Lane Departure Warning System: Too sensitive for my tastes. I'm not a sloppy driver, but the fact that it's settings cannot be adjusted makes me keep it off most of the time.

Blind-Sport Warning: I really like it in every respect but one: it does not operate below about 45 miles per hour and that speed is not adjustable. My wife's 2011 Ford Edge has a similar system that functions at every speed. The Edge camera, however, is constantly dirty because it's mounted in the wheel well!

Navigation: Best looking screen and integration with entertainment, bluetooth and HUD I know of. I have found guidance to be very accurate, with good alternative routes. I'll never be able to do without this combination again. For me, the primary shortcoming is the estimated time of arrival is always 20-30% greater than actual.

Cruise control: I like the left stalk position and general operation. I don't like the fact that the thumb switch to increase/decrease speed does not give you precise, 1-mph steps.

Windshield Wipers: They work well, but could be a little faster in the highest setting.

Exterior and interior lighting: These headlights are amazing, and the automatic high beam feature is faster and smarter than any driver could ever be. Ambient light for me is just right. Unlike some newer cars, it gives you a choice of one color, but it's the right color.

Night Vision: I'm a tech junkie and absolutely had to have it. Ok, that said, it is disappointing in the respect that, for the purpose of warning activation, it does not recognize deer, bears or anything moving or living other than the human shape. This is a huge deficiency, unless you have someone sitting next to you who can look at the screen and not the road constantly. This could be cured with new programming to recognize other shapes that put the driver at risk. I hope for a software upgrade some day, but won't hold my breath. Unless you often drive at night is major metro city center areas with many pedestrians, I wouldn't bother checking the Night Vision box.

Regrets: Just two: I should have ordered the black headliner and wish I had ordered the Sport Transmission in order to have the Sport steering wheel. The paddles I probably wouldn't have used, but there are days I crave that steering wheel.

Other cars I seriously researched and test drove were: S550 4Matic, LS 600H and LS 460L AWD, Quattroporte, Panamera, and Acura RL. Previous experience with Audi was terrible, so I didn't even consider the A8L, which I had previously owned. Previous experience with Lexus was good (except for the utter boredom) and I was literally one day from buying the LS 600 when I passed the BMW dealer and decided to test drive the new 5. I have not regretted it for one minute.

My apologies for this being so long. I have seen so much attention directed at a relatively narrow set of characteristics with the F10 that I wanted to give new and prospective buyers a broader view of the car. There has also been considerable hysteria-pumping discussion of quality and HPFP problems that I believe are quite uncharacteristic of the majority of owners cars in daily use out there.

My "enthusiast" cars were in the past, and included a couple of Porsches and a 69 Mustang Mach 1 428. I would be happy driving this car a very long time. That is unusual for me, because 2-3 years is pretty standard for me. I also can't lease because of high miles.

Sorry these pictures took so long!
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2010, 04:59 PM
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What a great write up! Thanks for taking the time and care to document so well. Reading every word I don't envy your 130 mile commute ....... my drive is 5 miles round trip every morning to drop my son at school and its not enough in the new F10!
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  #3  
Old 12-11-2010, 05:24 PM
Ian_C Ian_C is offline
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Couldn't have said it better myself.
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  #4  
Old 12-11-2010, 05:43 PM
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B-1 Pilot B-1 Pilot is offline
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thanks for the fantastic write up!

as to your comment on the nav system being off by 20-30% in its calculated arrival time... I pointed out that I had the same gripe with her car to my wife... she told me, "It's always right when I drive, but then I don't speed all the time like you do." YMMV.
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  #5  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:10 PM
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Needsdecaf Needsdecaf is offline
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Nice write up!

BTW, you are incorrect in one of your regrets. You need not get the sport auto trans to get the sport wheel...just the sport package.
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  #6  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:30 PM
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EvolutionTheory EvolutionTheory is offline
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Excellent detailed review. I enjoyed reading this!
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  #7  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:31 PM
Rafa Rafa is offline
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Great write up! Keep the comments coming as you get to drive the car more.
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  #8  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:33 PM
jzwu jzwu is offline
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Sounds like OP should have ordered the sport package which includes the multi contour seats, sport steering wheel, bigger tires and wheels, and the shadowline trim making the car look much better/aggressive.
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  #9  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:36 PM
jimefam jimefam is offline
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The cruise control does go up in 1 mph increments. Great write up.
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  #10  
Old 12-11-2010, 06:39 PM
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TJPark01 TJPark01 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdepetra View Post
Cruise control: I like the left stalk position and general operation. I don't like the fact that the thumb switch to increase/decrease speed does not give you precise, 1-mph steps.
It should. The stalk can has 2 motion settings. If you press up slightly i will increase speed by 1 mph. If you push it all the way it will gap to nearest speed ending in a 5 or 0.
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  #11  
Old 12-11-2010, 07:27 PM
Rafa Rafa is offline
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Originally Posted by TJPark01 View Post
It should. The stalk can has 2 motion settings. If you press up slightly i will increase speed by 1 mph. If you push it all the way it will gap to nearest speed ending in a 5 or 0.
+1. I do 1 mph adjustments all the time. Just go easy on the stalk.
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  #12  
Old 12-11-2010, 09:11 PM
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markl53 markl53 is online now
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No Cruise Control "stalk"

What stalk? My CC controls are on the steering wheel, unlike my previous 335i which did in fact have a separate stalk.
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  #13  
Old 12-11-2010, 10:10 PM
JoeRoadster JoeRoadster is offline
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Great writeup, thanks.

As others have mentioned, the sport package would have given you the sport steering wheel... However, it would have also given you 19' wheels, something you didn't want. So don't regret not having it too much.

Is share the same road hazard concern as you, and would prefer not to have 19' wheels, but on the other hand... Msport is calling to me.

I've been considering the HUD myself. Seems everyone who has it loves it, so that makes the case for me.

I too would take off the xdrive badges. They deter from the overall look.
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  #14  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:05 AM
Rafa Rafa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markl53 View Post
What stalk? My CC controls are on the steering wheel, unlike my previous 335i which did in fact have a separate stalk.
You're right. It is not a full fledged stalk but rather the little up-and-down switch on the steering wheel.
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  #15  
Old 12-12-2010, 08:28 AM
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markl53 markl53 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa View Post
You're right. It is not a full fledged stalk but rather the little up-and-down switch on the steering wheel.
Yes and that little up-and-down thing is only for one function, to change the set speed. The other controls are buttons on the wheel. The 335i had a separate stalk which by moving it different ways, performed all the functions. It almost makes me think the OP did a review on a car he didn't really drive (?). Not really, but weird, IMO, because he mentioned that thumb switch specifically and still said "left stalk".
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Last edited by markl53; 12-12-2010 at 08:29 AM.
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  #16  
Old 12-12-2010, 08:44 AM
tdepetra tdepetra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markl53 View Post
What stalk? My CC controls are on the steering wheel, unlike my previous 335i which did in fact have a separate stalk.
Correction-steering wheel controls! Thanks.
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  #17  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:38 PM
GoBluBeemer GoBluBeemer is offline
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Nice review! This should be a crowd-pleaser for those in the hunt! Re: CC, I really like the speed control switch on the wheel and the display when you adjust. The small reference light/dot that pops up on the speedo is a great detail, too.
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  #18  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:10 PM
Rafa Rafa is offline
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For the record, I like the ACC on the steering wheel better than on a stalk, as in my previous E60.
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  #19  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:39 PM
grover432 grover432 is offline
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Originally Posted by EvolutionTheory View Post
Excellent detailed review. I enjoyed reading this!
If you option it enough, wouldn't you be close to a lightly optioned 550? That is my dilemma.
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  #20  
Old 12-13-2010, 09:04 AM
tdepetra tdepetra is offline
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Originally Posted by grover432 View Post
If you option it enough, wouldn't you be close to a lightly optioned 550? That is my dilemma.
Yes. The real challenge is the possibility of long-term regrets over picking the wrong motor. I agonized over that, picked the N55 equipped car and have not regretted it. That gave me all the options I wanted and enough motor to satisfy 99% of the time. The other 1% is all in my brain. Or was that groin?
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:04 PM
beashonda beashonda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdepetra View Post
Yes. The real challenge is the possibility of long-term regrets over picking the wrong motor. I agonized over that, picked the N55 equipped car and have not regretted it. That gave me all the options I wanted and enough motor to satisfy 99% of the time. The other 1% is all in my brain. Or was that groin?
LOL--at least you are honest!
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  #22  
Old 12-13-2010, 05:26 PM
grover432 grover432 is offline
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I'm in the USA this week for 2 weeks and plan on test driving a 550. My Canadian dealer only has 535's right now and I'm considering an order soon, but I'd like to have driven both before I decide.
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  #23  
Old 12-14-2010, 08:31 AM
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markl53 markl53 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdepetra View Post
... you can spend more time in DS mode, where the car starts in 1st and won't go higher than 6th, which is a 1-1 ratio.
DS mode will shift into 7th at highway speeds. It is only 8th gear that is not used in DS. Get to speed, say 60mph in DS mode. Make note of your rpms and hold the speed steady. Shift up, you'll see "M8" on the screen, meaning it was in 7th before the shift. Shift back down 1 gear to M7 and you'll see the rpm matches where you were in DS.
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Last edited by markl53; 12-14-2010 at 08:33 AM.
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  #24  
Old 12-14-2010, 12:50 PM
tdepetra tdepetra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markl53 View Post
DS mode will shift into 7th at highway speeds. It is only 8th gear that is not used in DS. Get to speed, say 60mph in DS mode. Make note of your rpms and hold the speed steady. Shift up, you'll see "M8" on the screen, meaning it was in 7th before the shift. Shift back down 1 gear to M7 and you'll see the rpm matches where you were in DS.
Opps. Perhaps I was enjoying 3rd and 4th too much. I will try it again.
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  #25  
Old 12-15-2010, 05:51 PM
espom5 espom5 is offline
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Perfectly said thank you from one BMW enthusiast to another.

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