Cargo

In wagon form, the 5 Series is quite utilitarian. There are a lot of convenient features I appreciated during my time with it. Chief among them was the cargo cover that raised and lowered when you opened and closed the hatch. Normally I never keep cargo covers in place because they get in the way of loading groceries or other items when I'm running errands. Might as well not have a cover — except that they keep the sun out and keep everything covered from prying eyes.

BMW's solution is really simple and works flawlessly. The cargo cover also features a built-in net that attaches to the ceiling. These are generally used to keep pets safer in back, and also to keep them from drooling on your leather.

The specs for the cargo area come in at 17.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are in place and 58.3 cubic feet when they're lowered. That first number is far lower than the competition. The Audi A6 has 33.9 cubic feet, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has 24.4 cubic feet. The less expensive Volvo XC70 has 33.3 cubic feet. I must say, though, that those numbers really surprise me. Take, for example, the A6. It's 16 cubic feet bigger with the seats up, but only 5.5 cubic feet larger with them down, coming in at 63.8 cubic feet. Eyeballing the cargo area with the seats up, I don't think owners will notice such a significant difference between it and the 5 Series.

The Volvo XC70, on the other hand, is a considerably larger wagon in terms of interior and cargo space, both in terms of specs and my personal experience. What does this mean to luxury-wagon shoppers? Not much. Unless you're hauling large goods like antiques or boxes routinely, the 5 Series' space won't be a hindrance. Its everyday features should more than make up for the smaller area overall.

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