Detroit Auto Show: BMW ActiveHybrid 5

The 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 comes to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with some rather unimpressive shoes to fill. The German automaker is hoping its new hybrid sedan will do a bit better than last year’s ActiveHybrid X6 which was marketed briefly in the U.S., then dropped last fall because of lack of demand.

BMW announced at the show that the ActiveHybrid 5 will go on sale this spring with a base price of $61,845, which includes everyone’s favorite mystery surcharge, an $895 destination fee.

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image via BMW

The new Bimmer hybrid is based on the BMW 535i sedan, which has a starting price of $53,125. That’s almost a $9,000 premium for the hybrid model and more than $7,000 more expensive than than the 2012 Infiniti M35h, one of the car’s main competitors in the increasingly more competitive mid-size hybrid sedan market.

BMWs are never cheap, of course, but what do you get for the dough? Lots of performance and plenty of luxury. The new BMW hybrid combines a BMW TwinPower Turbo three-liter, six-cylinder in-line engine, an 40 kilowatt electric drive system and an eight-speed automatic gearbox powered by a lithium ion battery. That combination is good for a very robust total output of 340 horsepower. In the real world, that means 0-to-60 acceleration in a very respectable 5.7 seconds.

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image via BMW

The ActiveHybrid 5 can drive on battery power alone for about 2.5 miles at speeds up to 37 mph. The new hybrid also features regenerative braking and an engine stop-start system which is useful for in- town driving. This feature turns the engine off when the vehicle is standing still; when coasting, the engine can be shut off at speeds up to 100 mph, and the electric motor takes over as needed.

The coasting mode also disconnects the engine and the driveshaft so that engine braking doesn’t slow the vehicle. There’s also a navigation system which selects the most fuel efficient route for your trip and will drive the last mile on electric power alone.

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image via BMW

Unfortunately for consumers, the car’s EPA mileage stats aren’t available yet, so we still don’t know just how the new hybrid stacks up to its competition in that crucial statistic.

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.