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2013 BMW 5-Series Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW 5-Series Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.4

The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 impresses reviewers with a strong hybrid powertrain and composed handling. However, some critics note harsh transitions between gas and electric power. Additionally, the ActiveHybrid 5 can’t match the fuel economy of competing hybrid luxury large cars.

  • "Likewise, the ActiveHybrid 5 uses the supplemental electric power more for performance than fuel economy. (To its detriment, though, the hybrid power plant is relatively unrefined in its launch and power delivery in low-speed stop-and-go traffic.)" -- Edmunds 
  • "The ActiveHybrid 5 is ideal for existing BMW drivers who want to go green and stay with the brand, but it's more pleasant at speed than around town." -- Green Car Reports 
  • "Fortunately, there's one thing about the ActiveHybrid 5 that isn't debatable: Its driving experience absolutely is worthy of the marque's performance heritage." -- Motor Trend (2012)
  • "There is no whirring from the electric motor and no shudder when the gasoline engine fires up or cuts out. Unless you're gazing at the powertrain schematic on the standard split-screen LCD, you're likely only to be aware of what the engine is doing or not doing if you happen to notice the tach needle drop to zero or bounce back up again." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which deliver 335 horsepower combined. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. The EPA reports that the ActiveHybrid 5 gets 23/30 mpg city/highway, which is worse than hybrid luxury cars like the Infiniti M35h and Lexus GS 450h.

Although some test drivers note jarring transitions between gas and electric power, other reviewers are pleased with the ActiveHybrid 5’s performance. One reviewer praises the hybrid 5-Series for its ample power, while another notes that the transmission shifts smoothly.

  • "Time and time again, the ActiveHybrid 5's acceleration away from stop lights was marred by the poor transition between all-electric and gasoline modes." -- Green Car Reports
  • "The eight-speed ZF gearbox also has little trouble marrying the power sources. Whether in full auto or when using the sequential paddle shifters, it's unerringly smooth. Indeed, the downchanges are some of the best we've experienced from any type of 'box." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "A romp on the throttle will have most convinced that not all hybrids are for hypermiling sissy-foots." -- Road and Track (2012)
  • "Not once all day did transitions between eDrive and other modes feel brusque, and there were several opportunities on our drive for clumsy switches." -- Autoblog (2012)

Handling and Braking

While a few auto writers note that the ActiveHybrid 5 offers composed handling and good brake pedal feel, others take issue with its steering and brakes. One test driver notes that the steering system is too numb to provide an exciting driving experience, while another says that the ActiveHybrid 5’s brakes can be grabby.

  • "Around town, braking was similarly afflicted by the under-powered motor. Brake lightly, and it was possible to very gradually slow the ActiveHybrid 5 down using just regenerative braking. Put more than the lightest of touches on the brake pedal however, and the conventional friction brakes kicked in, slowing the car down much more quickly after a noticeable transition between the two." -- Green Car Reports
  • "Additionally, brake pedal feel is totally normal and the electrically assisted power steering (which is in traditional 5-series as well) is very nicely weighted." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "It's a chassis that will still hold up nicely on a back road, but is nothing to flaunt around a race track--and that's okay." -- Road and Track (2012)
  • "The steering is the biggest culprit. Not even BMW has come close to developing an electrically assisted system that matches the feel and sensitivity of the old hydraulic setup." -- Edmunds (2012) 

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