2016 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Review

ActiveHybrid 5

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2016 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Overview

The spectrum of luxury automakers runs from the comfort minded to the performance oriented. BMW has long prided itself on leaning toward the performance end of things, signified by its “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan. But what happens when a performance-luxury brand takes the best efforts of its past and combines it with the drivetrain of the future? You have the 2016 BMW ActiveHybrid 5.

The ActiveHybrid 5 maintains the style and driving dynamics of the iconic BMW 5 Series and combines it with a hybrid drivetrain. In fact, BMW’s hybrid equation is itself a blending of new and old, with electric components added to the venerable straight-six engine that has long been the 5 Series’ hallmark.

Despite the unique fuel-saving tech found under the hood, you may have a hard time telling the difference between the conventionally powered 535i and ActiveHybrid 5. From the iconic, twin-kidney grille to the Xenon adaptive self-leveling headlights to the V-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels right down to the dual exhaust, the cars look nearly identical. Were it not for the “ActiveHybrid 5” on the C-pillar and rear trunk decklid, you would not be able to distinguish the 535i from the hybrid version of the 5 Series.

If you started to read the fact sheet for the ActiveHybrid 5, you’d also be forgiven for confusing it with the sporty 535i's, at least at first. The powertrain of the ActiveHybrid 5 starts with the 535i’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder, making 300 horsepower. To complete the hybrid equation, BMW adds a 55-hp electric motor and 120-volt lithium ion battery pack. The net output of 335 horsepower is sent through an 8-speed automatic transmission to rear-wheel drive and will get the ActiveHybrid 5 from 0 to 60 in a claimed 5.7 seconds—not bad for a hybrid!

Other equipment geared toward efficiency includes regenerative braking with a coasting mode that helps conserve power and auto stop-start that shuts off when the car comes to a stop at a traffic light or in heavy traffic. The ActiveHybrid 5's driving dynamics selector with Eco Pro mode tunes the throttle response and transmission mapping for optimal efficiency.

The result is a 5-passenger sedan that can travel in electric-only mode at speeds up to 37 mph. EPA figures for the 2016 ActiveHybrid 5 are not listed, but the 2015's fuel economy was 26 mpg city, 30 highway, and 26 combined. That's consistent with every year since the ActiveHybrid 5 joined the American BMW lineup for the 2012 model year, so we project it will return those same numbers.

Not only does the ActiveHybrid 5 match the 535i in its 5.7-second 0-to-60 time, but it will also operate at nearly the same level when it comes to taking corners. The 4,300-pound ActiveHybrid 5 manages its weight around apexes with a double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension. It also features standard dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, and 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with Cornering Brake Control.

The ActiveHybrid 5 features a businesslike approach to interior styling, with clean lines and a very mechanical, if cold, feel to the cabin. Despite that appearance, the driver and front passenger are treated to 14-way adjustable front seats, while the driver’s seat has a memory system with presets not only for the seat position, but also for the outside mirror.

Dakota leather upholstery and dark wood trim represent the standard interior offerings. From there you can opt for all manner of varying interior swaths, as well as upgrade the equipment via several different options packages. One example is the Driver Assistance Package, which costs $1,800, and features a head-up display, parking distance control, and backup camera. You can also get standalone features, such as a rear-seat entertainment system ($2,200), which features 9.2-inch monitors in the backs of both front seats. An available night vision and pedestrian detection system will set you back $2,300.

Shoppers also have the option of two different name-brand designer audio systems to choose from. The available Harman Kardon audio option upgrades the standard 12-speaker system to a 16-speaker, 600-watt sound system. At $875, it's a bargain compared to the Bang & Olufsen stereo, which costs $4,500. That also features 16 speakers, but it also has patented Acoustic Lens technology that makes every occupant feel like he or she is the focus of the speakers.

The ActiveHybrid 5 also delivers a selection of features designed to bring the driver and occupants peace of mind. This includes a full array of advanced airbags, active front headrests, an antitheft alarm system, and an impact sensor system. The latter goes into action in the event of an accident, disconnecting the alternator, fuel pump, and starter from the battery, as well as automatically unlocking all doors and activating hazard lights. The ActiveHybrid 5 also comes standard with BMW Remote Services, including stolen-vehicle recovery services, remove vehicle lock, and other functions via the My BMW remote app.

The 2016 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 carries a base price of $62,100 before options, destination, and handling. Buyers have the option of Luxury or M Sport lines. The Luxury line is a $1,500 option and features more chrome accents throughout the exterior, a unique 18-inch multi-spoke wheel setup, sport leather steering wheel, and exclusive upholsteries. Meanwhile, the M Sport line is meant to evoke the potent M5 performance sedan and adds a unique M aerodynamic body kit, 19-inch M-design wheels, M-branded sport steering wheel, and access to special M colors and trims.

These trim lines bring an air of either performance or luxury to the ActiveHybrid 5, and in the process, show how hybrids do not have to be boring and a that car designed to conserve fuel can still embody what it means to be the “Ultimate Driving Machine.”


From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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