2011 BMW 535i – Long-Term Road Test Wrap-Up

The vast majority of long-term cars we order come loaded with all the newest and hottest options, sometimes with a blatant disregard for the bottom line. This, we freely admit, could be considered juvenile. But it gives us the ability to report on whether or not that $4000 list of interior trimmings is actually worth it.

This is not one of those cases. We wanted to get a jump on testing a new F10 535i sedan so badly that BMW let us choose from a selection of previously ordered vehicles. At the high end were 5ers costing close to $70,000. At the absolute low end was this white 535i with a manual transmission and the Sport package ($2200), Dynamic Handling package ($2700), a $400 iPod connector, and cinnamon-brown Dakota leather seats ($1450). Grand total: $57,225. On paper, we were drawn to its simplicity. We thought that this might be the kind of 5-series we would spec out were we to actually purchase one. One of the many lessons learned at the Bay of Pigs is that theory is often at odds with reality.

In the logbook’s first entry, associate online editor Jon Yanca set the tone for this car’s tenure: “I know everyone will complain about the lack of navigation, heated seats, and satellite radio.” Sure enough, entry after entry complained endlessly of cold seats and the cheap non-navigation iDrive display that resembles an old cathode-ray tube more than a modern LCD flat screen. Most 5 drivers were not aware that the Cold Weather package, and its heated seats, was not available at launch. No matter—we were resentful that a nearly $60,000 car had our backsides making their own heat on chilly mornings.

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