$11,340 - $15,152

2011 BMW 5-Series Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2011 BMW 5-Series was new.


Interior: 8.1

Although critics say that the 2011 BMW 5-Series isn’t as performance-oriented as previous generations, nearly all agree that the new 5-Series offers a more attractive interior that’s constructed with higher-quality materials. Leatherette upholstery and dark wood trim come standard on the base 528i, and a number of options packages allow buyers to customize the 5-Series’ interior with upgraded leather seats and numerous comfort and convenience features. Even the electronics are well-liked inside the new 5-Series, as reviewers note that BMW’s iDrive system is now much more intuitive.

Still, the 5-Series isn’t without its quirks. A few test drivers say that the back seat doesn’t offer enough legroom to be truly adult-comfortable, and most agree that its 14 cubic-foot trunk is small compared with other luxury large cars. However, Gran Turismo models offer more cargo space.

  • "The 5 cabin is spacious to the point that the new car may well attract some former 7 Series clients, especially those who choose the shorter wheelbase model." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Interior materials closely mimic those of the 7-Series and appear to be of high quality. They also look classy or sporty depending on trim, but certain color combinations look more drab than upscale." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Inside, the car is just about perfect. I'd have to say BMW currently offers the best interior design of any German car company." -- Los Angeles Times 
  • "Inside, the cabin has been updated but is still a model of sober craftsmanship with precise surface changes and beautiful proportions." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The passenger compartment is beautifully trimmed, both inviting and functional." -- Autoblog 


Reviewers generally agree that the BMW 5-Series sedan’s front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, but not all are convinced that the rear row offers enough legroom. If you need a more spacious back seat, consider the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or a 5-Series Gran Tursimo.

  • "Even the tallest drivers should have plenty of headroom and legroom. Ingress and egress are easy enough, and the seats are quite comfortable." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "The front seats are quite comfortable, with the optional multicontour seats in particular providing an impressive amount of adjustability. In back, there's enough room for a pair of 6-foot adults to be comfortable, and the backseat is nicely contoured and padded." -- Edmunds 
  • "Rear occupants sit on a standard bench seat set at a reclined angle. Rear legroom is in short supply." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The seats are comfy but with a surprising amount of side support, and there's more than enough room for four adults and their luggage." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The rear seats are acceptable for adults, but the space would never be considered generous, as the backs of the front seats are not sculpted for rear passenger knees." -- Autoblog 

Interior Features

The 5-Series’ redesign brought the cabin in a decidedly more upscale direction, with a layout that has much in common with the BMW 7-Series. Reviewers are generally pleased with the design and materials used, and most agree that BMW’s iDrive multi-media interface is now much more user-friendly than it was in previous models.

  • "The 5-Series interior is now very similar to that of the 7-Series. BMW's iDrive is standard, but the latest incarnation is far less cumbersome to use than earlier versions. Climate controls are mounted low on the dash but are easy to see and reach. Most audio controls are separate, and the system includes a row of eight programmable buttons that can be set for radio stations or shortcuts to an iDrive screen. This greatly eases everyday use, as do redundant steering-wheel controls." -- Consumer Guide  
  • "The layout is quite similar to that of the 7 Series, with a center display screen and a configurable display in the gauge cluster. The iDrive controller, thanks to the new physical buttons and menu structure, is pretty easy to figure out and provides a large amount of customization of the car's features." -- Edmunds 
  • "My test car had the brilliant 10-inch navigation display in the center console, which is spectacular." -- Los Angeles Times 
  • "The standard iDrive telematics system continues to add complexity to what were once simple tasks." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The navigation system, including iDrive, is intuitive and useful (finally!). The maps are displayed in traditional manner, or overlaid on geographic satellite imagery that impresses everyone." -- Autoblog 


With 14 cubic feet of trunk space, the 2011 BMW 5-Series is on the low side compared with other luxury large cars. Rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan provide 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space, and while Gran Turismo models offer an additional 1.5 cubic feet of trunk space, they can’t hold a candle to the Audi A7’s trunk, which has a cavernous 24.5 cubic feet for cargo.

In-cabin storage in the 5-Series is also less than that found in many of its rivals.

  • "The trunk is wide at the back but narrows significantly between the wheels. It is also not as usefully shaped as most, partly because sickle-type lid hinges dip into the load area, though they're covered to avoid damaging cargo. Split-folding rear seat backs are optional; we don't know why they're not standard. Interior storage consists only of a modest-size glovebox, shallow console box, map pockets, console cupholders, a small console tray, and a small ash tray." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The trunk, at 14 cubic feet of luggage capacity, is smaller than average for this segment." -- Edmunds 
  • "Behold, there are real cupholders! Not the sturdiest ones, but worlds better than the flip-out dashboard cupholders employed elsewhere in BMW’s lineup." -- Cars.com

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