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2021 BMW 5-Series Review

Exhilarating power, a serene ride, a top-notch safety score, and a cavernous cabin are just some of the traits that propel the 2021 BMW 5 Series toward the top of the luxury midsize car class.

Pros & Cons

  • Array of monstrous engines
  • Blissful ride
  • Roomy cabin
  • Top-notch safety score
  • Far more expensive than rivals

New for 2021

  • 12.3-inch touch screen and Android Auto now standard
  • 540i gets mild-hybrid technology
  • Refreshed interior and exterior styling

Rankings & Research

The 2021 BMW 5-Series's #1 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Midsize Cars category. Currently the BMW 5-Series has a score of 8.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 27 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a BMW 5-Series?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the BMW 5 Series a Good Car?

Yes, the BMW 5 Series is a great luxury midsize car. It costs more than other cars in the class, but this BMW provides the appeal that justifies that cost. Every engine supplies plenty of power, and its ride remains refined on rough roads. Inside, this vehicle impresses with its roomy cabin and straightforward infotainment system. On top of that, it has a perfect safety score.

Why You Can Trust Us: 27 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this sedan in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions with 27 professional reviews.

This 2021 5 Series review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2017.

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

Should I Buy the BMW 5 Series?

While it’s a great car, the BMW 5 Series is pricey, and there are lots of appealing rivals in this class. The Audi A6 shares similarities with the 5 Series, including a lineup of strong engines. The Lexus ES is another well-rounded car, and it costs roughly $14,000 less to buy than the 5 Series.

Find a 2021 BMW 5 Series for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 BMW 5 Series: What's the Difference?

For 2021, BMW refreshes the 5 Series’ exterior styling, and features such as Android Auto and a new 12.3-inch touch screen (up from 10.25 inches) are now standard. Finally, a 48-volt mild-hybrid setup is a new addition to the 540i’s six-cylinder engine, bumping its fuel economy estimates from 22/30 mpg city/highway to 25/32 mpg.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 5 Series »

Here are the 5 Series’ key changes since BMW redesigned this vehicle for the 2017 model year:

  • 2018: plug-in-hybrid and M5 models debuted
  • 2019: Apple CarPlay and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant added to standard features list
  • 2020: 530e PHEV received 5-mile range boost and M550i received 67-horsepower bump
  • 2021: more standard features, a mild-hybrid engine debuts, and refreshed styling

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 5 Series, 2019 5 Series, and 2020 5 Series reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the BMW 5 Series Cost?

The base 5 Series, the 530i, has a starting MSRP of $54,200. That’s one of the highest prices in the class. The top-of-the-line BMW M5 Competition exceeds $111,000.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

BMW 5 Series Versus the Competition

BMW 5 Series vs. Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a good luxury midsize car, but the BMW is slightly better. Both German cars have high-quality, well-equipped cabins, and both have high-performance V8-powered variants, with the Mercedes-AMG and BMW M models. However, the 5 Series has better fuel economy, sharper handling, and a much better predicted reliability rating.

Compare the 5 Series and E-Class »

BMW 5 Series vs. Audi A6

The Audi A6 has much in common with the 5 Series. Its performance models, the S6 and RS, go toe-to-toe with the BMW M variants. Both cars also have opulent cabins and silky rides. However, the BMW takes the edge for its higher predicted reliability rating and straightforward infotainment controls.

Compare the 5 Series and A6 »

Compare the 5 Series, E-Class, and A6 »

5 Series Interior: Five Stars

5 Series Cargo Space

With a 14-cubic-foot trunk, the 5 Series has a typical amount of cargo room for the class. The plug-in-hybrid 530e loses space due to the placement of its battery pack. Its 10-cubic-foot trunk is small compared to other sedans, though you can fold the rear seats for a bit more space. A power trunk lid is available.

How Many People Does the 5 Series Seat?

Up to five people can sit in this sedan. BMW’s SensaTec synthetic leather upholstery comes standard, as do 16-way power-adjustable front seats. Upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and front seats with heating, ventilation, massage, and 20-way power adjustments.

Adults will find plenty of head- and legroom in both rows. Further boosting the 5 Series’ appeal are its supportive, well-cushioned seats that remain comfortable even after hours of driving.

5 Series and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use, noting that the lower anchors could be hard to maneuver around.

5 Series Interior Quality

The BMW 5 Series has a luxurious cabin full of soft leathers, including high-end Merino leather in the M5. Still, some critics find the design to be a little dull compared to the more lavish interiors of competitors.

5 Series Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

There are many ways to control the iDrive infotainment system, including a rotary dial, a touch screen, and voice commands, making it easy for users to master.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 12.3-inch touch screen, a 12.3-inch digital driver display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a navigation system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, and a 12-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, two additional USB ports, and a Harman Kardon or Bowers & Wilkins 16-speaker audio system
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start
  • Other available features: remote start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

5 Series Performance: Five Serious Engines

5 Series Engine

There’s no bad powertrain in this BMW. The base engine is strong enough for daily driving and delivers swift acceleration. That trend continues through the higher trims, with the six-cylinder and V8 engines all being powerhouses – especially in the high-end M5 and M5 Competition. Completing the powertrains is a refined automatic transmission.

BMW 5 Series Powertrain/Performance Options:
  • Base engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 248 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque; starts at $54,200 (530i)
  • Available powertrains:
    • 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and an electric motor with a combined 288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque; starts at $57,200 (530e)
    • 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 335 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque; starts at $59,450 (540i)
    • 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque; starts at $76,800 (M550i)
    • 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque; starts at $103,500 (M5)
    • 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque; starts at $111,100 (M5 Competition)
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive (xDrive)
  • Transmission: eight-speed automatic
BMW 5 Series Appearance Packages:
  • M Sport styling package (prices start at $3,300 in 530i, $2,500 in 530e, and $3,300 in 540i): 19-inch double-spoke alloy wheels, shadowline exterior trim, and an M sport steering wheel
  • Shadowline package (prices start at $550; available in 530i, 530e, 540i, and M550i): shadowline lights and exterior trim
BMW 5 Series Performance Packages:
  • Dynamic Handling package (prices range from $3,500 to $3,600): includes active steering, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, dynamic damper control, active roll stabilization, adaptive drive, and an adaptive M suspension
BMW 5 Series Individual Performance Options:
  • M Sport Brakes with blue or red calipers ($650; available in 530i, 530e, 540i)
  • 20-inch performance run-flat tires ($950; available in M550i)
  • 20-inch M double-spoke wheels ($1,100 in M550i, $1,300 in M5)
  • M Carbon Ceramic Brakes ($8,500; available in M5 and M5 Competition)
  • M Driver’s package ($2,500; available in M5 and M5 Competition)
5 Series Gas Mileage

The base BMW 530i earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Despite having a six-cylinder engine, the 540i nearly matches those figures – 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway – thanks to its 48-volt mild-hybrid setup. Those are decent figures for the luxury midsize car class. Adding all-wheel drive (called xDrive by BMW) reduces fuel economy.

The M550i returns 17/25 mpg city/highway, and the M5 and M5 Competition models trail at 15/21 mpg.

As of this writing, the EPA has not evaluated the 2021 530e, which is a plug-in hybrid. However, the similar 2020 model has an all-electric range of 21 miles and a combined city/highway rating of 69 MPG-equivalent. Its battery can be recharged in about three hours using a 240-volt household-style power outlet.

For more information, read What is MPGe?

5 Series Ride and Handling

Occupants of the 5 Series are treated to a serene ride. This vehicle glides over holes and bumps in the pavement. Steering is light, and the brakes are strong. While the 5 Series has competent handling, it doesn’t feel as sporty as some other BMW models or past versions of this car.

The 530e plug-in hybrid has a regenerative braking system, and for the most part, it operates smoothly and has a natural, progressive pedal feel.

How Fast Is the BMW 5 Series?

BMW claims the 530i sedan has a zero-to-60 time of 5.9 or 5.8 seconds, depending on its drivetrain. The 530e plug-in hybrid makes the dash in 5.7 seconds. The 540i is a bit faster, going from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds with rear-wheel drive and 4.6 seconds with all-wheel drive. The powerful M550i makes that sprint in 3.6 seconds, and the M5 rockets there in 3.2. You can reduce that to 3.1 seconds in the range-topping BMW M5 Competition.

When properly equipped, the 530i, 540i, and M550i have a top speed of 155 mph, according to BMW. The 530e has a top speed of 146 mph (143 with AWD), and the M5 and M5 Competition sedans can reach 156 mph.

Does the BMW 5 Series Have All-Wheel Drive?

Yes, BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard in the M models and available in the others.

Read more about performance »

5 Series Reliability

Is the BMW 5 Series Reliable?

The 2021 BMW 5 Series has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

BMW 5 Series Warranty

BMW backs the 5 Series with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. Hybrid models also have an eight-year/80,000-mile high-voltage battery warranty.

Read more about reliability »

5 Series Safety

5 Series Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 BMW 5 Series the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests, as well as for how well its headlights illuminate the road ahead. The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features, and it gave this sedan the highest rating of Superior for its standard and optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not evaluated the 2021 BMW 5 Series.

5 Series Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control

Available advanced safety features:

  • Evasive steering assist
  • Lane steering assist
  • Traffic jam assist
  • Parallel and perpendicular park assist
  • Front cross traffic alert

Read more about safety »

5 Series Dimensions and Weight

The 5 Series sedan is about 16.3 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,765 to 4,345 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 BMW 5 Series Built?

BMW builds the 2021 5 Series in Germany.

When Did the BMW 5 Series First Come Out?

Known as E12, the initial 5 Series generation ran from 1972 to 1981. The M5 appeared with the second generation, E28, which spanned the 1981 through 1988 model years. All-wheel drive (xDrive) and a wagon body style appeared in the third generation E34 (1988 to 1996).

The fourth-generation 5 Series, designated E39, ran from 1995 to 2003. Then came the fifth generation E60, partly known for its controversial styling elements attributed to design director Chris Bangle. Its M5 model is the only version in the car's history with a V10 engine. The E60 generation was succeeded in 2010 by the sixth generation, known as the F10, which was the first available with a hybrid powertrain and the only model to have a hatchback Gran Turismo body type.

The 2021 model belongs to the G30 generation, which debuted for the 2017 model year.

Which BMW 5 Series Model Is Right for Me?

BMW makes the 2021 5 Series in five main trim levels: 530i, 530e, 540i, M550i, and M5. A more potent version of the M5 is available, called the M5 Competition. Rear-wheel drive is standard. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard in M models and available in the others.

The main difference between these trims is the engine. Most shoppers should find that the base trim has ample power, and it's available with most of the tech and comfort features offered in the 5 Series.

BMW 530i

The entry-level 530i has a starting MSRP of $54,200, and it's powered by a 248-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 530i has a lengthy list of standard equipment, including BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touch screen, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, cloud-based navigation, a 12-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and two USB ports.

Also included are a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, SensaTec synthetic leather upholstery, 16-way power-adjustable front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant suite of driver assistance features. This package includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and a pre-collision warning and braking system.

Adding all-wheel drive costs $2,300. Leather seats costs $1,500. Then there are numerous packages. Available for $850, the Convenience package outfits this sedan with heated front seats, remote start, and a power trunk lid. The $2,700 Premium package includes all of that plus heated rear seats, a head-up display, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and gesture-based infotainment controls. The Executive package costs $3,600 and includes both of the previous packages plus a rear-window sunshade and ceramic controls.

The packages don’t stop there. You can add the Driving Assistance Plus package for $1,700, and you’ll get lane centering, traffic jam assist, front cross traffic alert, and steering evasion assist. The $800 Parking Assistance package comes with parallel park assist. There’s also a $1,000 Luxury Seating package that adds ventilated and 20-way power-adjustable front seats.

Massaging front seats cost $1,000, and a heated steering wheel can be added for $190.

BMW 530e

Pricing for the 530e starts at $57,200. While largely boasting the same features and options as the 530i, the 530e stands out for being a plug-in hybrid. It has a turbo-four gas engine paired with an electric motor and a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a total output of 288 horsepower. AWD again costs $2,300.

BMW 540i

The 540i retails for $59,450. Other than a 335-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-six engine, it has the same features and options as the 530i. It also can be had with a $3,500 Dynamic Handling package, which adds dynamic damper control, active roll stabilization, and adaptive drive. AWD costs $2,300.

BMW M550i

The M550i (MSRP: $76,800) comes standard with AWD. It also has a 523-horsepower 4.4-liter V8 engine, an M rear spoiler, Dakota leather seats, 20-way power-adjustable multicontour front seats, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. The same packages from the 540i are available, although pricing may differ. A 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo can be added for $3,400.

BMW M5

The BMW M5 sedan starts at a whopping $103,500. It has the same engine as the M550i but juices it for 600 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard, as are a Wi-Fi hot spot, wireless device charging, two more USB ports, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote start.

For $111,100, you can buy the M5 Competition. It’s an even more potent version of the M5, making an additional 17 horsepower. It also includes an M Sport exhaust, M Sport seat belts, and shadowline exterior styling,

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

See 2021 BMW 5 Series specs and trims »

The Final Call

The BMW 5 Series is a luxury midsize car with many appealing traits, including a great safety score and an above-average predicted reliability rating. Inside, it has a handsome and spacious cabin, as well as plenty of high-tech features. This sedan also has a cushioned ride and several powerful engine options from which to choose. It’s pricey, but it’s so well-rounded that it may be worth the cost.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 BMW 540i xDrive isn't just a luxury car. I mean, sure, that's what it is -- and when it comes to being luxurious, it excels -- but it's a bit more than a one-dimensional qualifier like that. With a few button presses, this straight-six sedan picks up a sportier nature that makes for quite an engaging experience if there are a few curves between Points A and B." -- CNET
  • "If quiet luxury and handsome styling are high on your new-car priorities list, the 2021 BMW 5-series sedan could very well be the answer. Its spacious and plush cabin is a pleasant place to spend your commute, and BMW offers a host of powertrain options to suit your needs, be they fuel efficiency or roaring V-8 performance. A facelift for 2021 brings sharper exterior styling that gives the 5-series an even more upscale appearance, and several tech upgrades should keep it in the fight against key rivals such as the Audi A6, the Genesis G80, and the Mercedes-Benz E-class." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2019 BMW 5 Series more than holds its own in a class of extraordinarily gifted performers. The premium midsize sedan scene is rich with style, technology, driving abilities and luxury appointments. Where the 5 Series and its main rivals excel is in achieving a sweet spot of so many well-balanced elements." -- Autotrader (2019)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

Falling Sales: The 5 Series sedan competes in the luxury midsize car sales race as a top-seller, behind the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the dominant Lexus ES. While it maintained a competitive position through the end of the year, 2020 sales were weak. BMW dealerships sold 31.4 percent fewer 5 Series models over the course of the year compared to 2019.

Research more buying advice »
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