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Live large, spend wisely; here are the 11 Best Luxury Cars for 2016

3. BMW 5 Series – Variations on a theme

Base price range: $51,195-$95,095

The BMW 5 Series boasts one the most extensive model lines in the luxury-car business, and every one features a fine balance of sportiness and luxury. On tap is a full range of gasoline, diesel, and gas-electric hybrid models in both midsize-sedan and nearly full-size four-door hatchback Gran Turismo form, and in rear- and all-wheel-drive. The Gran Turismo has far more back-seat room than the sedans, plus an expansive cargo bay with a wide tailgate for easy loading and unloading; consider it a livelier alternative to a five-passenger crossover SUV.

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Throughout its expansive range the 5 Series continues to drive with more verve than the competition, although rivals have narrowed the gap considerably in recent years. Within the 5 Series family, the sedans handle better than the Gran Turismo, thanks to a lower center of gravity and lighter curb weight. As with the Audi A6, the 5 Series engine roster is fully turbocharged. The base 528 sedan comes modestly powered by a 2.0-liter 240-horsepower turbo-four, with the 535 sedan and GT models getting a needed boost from a 300-horsepower turbocharged inline-six and the top 550 versions putting a more ferocious 445 horsepower to the pavement via a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8. Meanwhile, those with “greener” tastes can avail themselves of the 535d sedan with its invigorating and economical 3.0-liter turbodiesel six or the ActiveHybrid5 that teams a six-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor-generator to maintain both quick acceleration and respectable fuel economy. (Between the two, the 535d is both about $5,000 cheaper and gets better fuel economy at 26/38/30-mpg city/highway/combined, versus 23/30/26 for the hybrid.) What’s more, there’s a truly quick and nimble M5 ultra-high-performance version at the top of the line with as many as 575 raging horses under the hood; this continues to be the only 5 Series variation that can be fitted with a manual transmission. A long list of top-shelf amenities is available.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]