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Mark Kennedy


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Applying the Goldilocks standard, the new 5-Series is the not-too-hot, not-too-cold, "just right" sedan in the BMW line-up.

The hot 3-Series compact sports sedan is the bread-and-butter sales leader, and the coolly elegant 7-series is the flagship. But the 5-series, which has been redesigned for 2017, combines a handsome (yet conservative) exterior design with interior opulence and comfort on par with the flagship 7-Series.

The real news, though, is under the hood, where BMW 530i has managed to take a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine and, through the magic of turbocharging, turn it into one of the smoothest, most powerful small displacement motors we've ever encountered. The 530i powertrain produces 248 horsepower.

The six-cylinder equipped BMW 540i produces 335-horsepower, but the extra 87 horsepower seems like an indulgence for those traditional BMW buyers who can't get their heads around the fact that the four-cylinder engine provides all the performance they will likely ever need.

In fact, the new BMW 530i is so blissfully quiet and torquey that it sometimes feels like an EV. Are you listening Tesla?

The 530i starts at a modest $51,200, but pricey option packages can quickly balloon the bottom line. Our highly-optioned Alpine White tester has an MRSP of $74,160.

  •  Just the facts: The 2017 BMW 530i is a five-passenger sports sedan that represents the seventh generation of a German-made model first introduced in the United States when Richard Nixon was president. The conservative design includes traditional kidney-shaped grille elements and a sleek profile that should age well.

Meanwhile, the interior features many of the design flourishes and creature comforts found in the 7-Series sedan, such as diamond-stitched Napa leather seating surfaces, gesture control (hands-off telematics commands), and a WiFi hotspot capable of handling up to 10 devices. (BMW leaves it to your imagination how five passengers can simultaneously use 10 devices.)

Performance is keyed to the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, three driving-mode settings, and eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Standard equipment includes the leather seats, run-flat tires, ambient lighting, a moon-roof, automatic climate control and navigation. The $2,600 M-sport package includes special 19-inch wheels, upgraded wood trim, a special M steering wheel, a set of aerodynamic ground effects, and an anthracite (suede) headliner. Swallow hard if you want the premium Bowers and Wilkins sound system as it will set you back an extra $4,200. '

  •  Worthwhile options: The driver assist package includes a convenient head-up display, a useful park-assist control and an essential back-up camera. For $1,700 more you can add another driver assist package that will will attempt to nudge you back into your lane, should you fail to signal.
  •  It's good for Chattanooga because: A fully-loaded 7-Series can easily top six-figures, while the 5-Series is much more attainable for a mass-affluent market. For Chattanooga's abundant middle-management class, the 5-Series is a much more budget-friendly option.
  •  How much? The 530i starts at $51,200. Our tester has more than $20,000 in options, however, including the $4,200 premium sound system.
  •  Cool stuff: Two things: One practical and one that makes us smile. The fact that new BMWs come with three years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance, is a huge selling point. Meanwhile, an ambient light package that rings the interior in a luminescent purple pinstripe is just plain cool.
  •  New for 2017: The 2017 model represents the 7th generation of a model that dates to 1972. Major cosmetic and engineering designs are featured throughout.
  •  Something we could do without: Pricey options turn this affordable luxury sedan into a reach for most customers, witness the $4,200 Bowers and Wilkins sound system. Does it sound great? Of course. Is it worth four grand? Meh.

We wish for: A bit more exhaust note. We love the cabin isolation but a little growl under hard acceleration wouldn't hurt.

While you are looking: Also check-out the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Audi A6 and the Lexus GS350.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.

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