2014 BMW 535d first drive review: Diesel five

2014 BMW 535d

2014 BMW 535d

As much as we’re fond of adding horsepower, especially when it also comes with improved fuel economy, and which also might otherwise be The Big Story of the 2014 BMW 5-Series line, that’s not the biggest news. Nor is the minor refreshing of the exterior, some three years on for this generation of the 5-Series. Or new tech goodies. Nope, it’s a diesel. Welcome the 2014 BMW 535d.

The BMW Advanced Diesel engine is the same one used in the new diesel version of the new generation BMW X5, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Nor should it be that it uses BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology—two exhaust inlets on one turbocharger. Output is a very diesel-like 255 horsepower at 4,000 rpm but with a serious 413 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 – 3,000 rpm. It’s an all-new engine, and it’s smooth and quiet, though at full throttle is growls to let you know it’s doing its job.

2014 BMW 535d

The 3.0-liter diesel engine in the 2014 BMW 535d makes 417 lb-ft of torque. (click to enlarge)

And yes, as we’re learning, being diesel these days means never saying sorry I’m late. The 400-plus lb-ft of torque launches the 4,000-plus lb mass of the 535d like it was on someone’s flight deck. Mind,with a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds,  it’s quite respectable but it won’t keep up with the updated 4.4-liter V-8 of the 2014 BMW 550i and 550i xDrive, which makes a thumping 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque.

And not to abandon the field to Audi, which also expanded the application of a three-liter diesel engine in the Audi A6, Audi A7 and Audi Q5 for 2014, the 5-Series diesel will also be available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available on all BMW 5-Series models other than the ActiveHybrid 5.

2014 BMW 535d

The 2014 BMW 535d interior is classic BMW design. (click to enlarge)

Naturally, the 2014 BMW 535d tops all the other 5-Series in fuel mileage. In a first-drive test drive, including backroads, highway, and a half-hour crawl to get through U.S. Customs, we averaged in the high-20s mpg range. That coincides with the EPA estimates of 26/38 mpg city/highway for the rear-wheel drive version and 26/37 mpg for the all-wheel drive 535d. It would have been worse, however, if the 535d were not equipped with auto stop-start. No doubt people in the next lane thought we were odd to be turning off the engine every time we stopped and restarting it to creep forward. But when it comes to fuel economy, the 2014 BMW 525d in fact tops not only the four-cylinder BMW 528i, which checks in at 24/34 mpg, but also the BMW ActiveHybrid 5, with a 23/30 mpg rating.

Alongside of us, however, they would be hard pressed to notice the changes to the exterior for 2014. Indeed, the 2014 BMW 5-Series models will take a clever eye for the non-BMW faithful to spot. The 5-Series gets what BMW calls “fresh contour lines for the surround of the BMW kidney grille and redesigned lower air intakes reinforce the sporty appearance of the 2014 BMW 5 Series Sedan.”

2014 BMW 5-Series headlamp

Adaptive LED headlamps, seen here in side view, are optional on the 2014 BMW 5-Series. (click to enlarge)

And out back, the 5-Series gets new taillights, and the ”accentuated width of the rear end is underlined by an extra crease in the apron, as well as slim, sharply contoured and therefore more striking rear lights.” If it weren’t pointed out, the non-Bimmerista would never know.

There are details, however. Xenon adaptive headlights are now standard on all 5 Series models, while adaptive LED headlights have been added to BMW’s lengthy options list for 2014.

Also new for 2014 is the iDrive4.2 Navigation system as standard equipment, with a new iDrive rotary controller. New too is a touchpad used to write out in letters destinations for the navigation system, or phone numbers and other functions within the iDrive4.2 operating system. We’ll have to spend time with it too see how it integrates into the sometimes unwieldy iDrive system.

2014 BMW 535d

2014 BMW 535d (click to enlarge)

The optional Comfort Access system now allows the trunk to be opened hands-free, and now includes closing. By kicking under the rear bumper, the trunklid will open or close.

A rear-seat entertainment system with tablet-style displays is also new. A new version of the ambient light option can change lighting between orange and white, depending whether you’re in an orange mood or a white mood. But we know cars that cost a lot less with more colors, if that makes a difference.

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