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2020 BMW 5-Series Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.4

The 2020 BMW 5 Series provides just about everything you could want on the performance front. It offers a lineup of powerful engine choices, and every model handles well. The ride is smooth over almost any road surface, and fuel economy is good for the class.

  • "All of the 5-Series models are competent handlers, but they lack the kind of driving verve we expect from BMW. Steering feedback is light, and the ride, even in the performance-oriented M550i, feels tuned more for comfort than for pure driving pleasure." -- Car and Driver
  • "Even though the 5 Series can slather on the comfort and supply lavish levels of technology, BMW hasn't forsaken its enthusiast roots. Select Sport mode for sharper responses from the steering, transmission and throttle (and suspension, if the adaptive setup is installed), and those canyon roads will beckon. In Comfort mode, the steering feels light when the car is pointed straight ahead, not improving much in the turns. In any mode, the cabin remains tranquil." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "This is a thrilling driver's car. Quiet and composed in town, especially with the Driving Dynamics Control set to Comfort, the 540i flips like a light-switch into teeth-bared mode the moment you start squeezing hard on the gas and getting quick on the wheel." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)

Acceleration and Power

Each 5 Series trim comes with its own powertrain. The base 530i comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 540i features a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque.

The base engine delivers plenty of power and solid acceleration, making it a nice match for this sedan. That said, drivers looking for more spirited performance will likely want to upgrade. The 540i's turbo-six makes this BMW feel much quicker and more like a sports sedan.

Three trims feature a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine, though the horsepower ratings vary. The M550i generates 523 horsepower, the M5 produces 600 horsepower, and the M5 Competition puts out 617 horsepower. All three models have 553 pound-feet of torque. These are the three trims you want for mind-blowing performance. The M550i dashes from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, while the two M5 trims make the sprint in just over three seconds.

BMW also offers a plug-in-hybrid trim, the 530e. Its powertrain combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to make 248 horsepower. The 530e can go 21 miles on electric power before it switches to gasoline power.

Every powertrain comes with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

According to EPA estimates, the BMW 530i gets 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the best ratings in the luxury midsize car class. The 540i gets 22/30 mpg city/highway, while the M550i xDrive gets 18/25 mpg city/highway.

The plug-in-hybrid 530e gets 69 MPG-equivalent and 27 mpg combined city/highway.

  • "Smooth, powerful, and efficient, both the four-cylinder in the 530i and the six-cylinder in the 540i motivate this big sedan with authority. Each pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts intuitively and quickly, making the most of the available power. The 540i's six-cylinder is silky and potent, and it makes a delightful noise to boot. With a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 under its hood, the M550i is the athlete of the 5-Series lineup." -- Car and Driver
  • "Even the 530i should accelerate to 60 mph in fewer than 6 seconds, so no trim level will lack for acceleration. The 530e's hybrid powertrain works smoothly and returns respectable fuel efficiency. We also like BMW's eight-speed automatic; it's well-behaved and responds readily to the driver's needs." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Though small in size, the turbocharged 4-cylinder in 530i models does a commendable job propelling this substantial sedan. … Drivers will find more grunt in the 540i and its turbocharged 6-cylinder." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

The BMW badge lends itself to certain expectations when it comes to luxury and performance, and the 5 Series delivers. While it may not be a car you take to the track, it feels planted around turns with sharp steering that lets you enjoy winding roads. This BMW rides smoothly as well, absorbing road imperfections without disturbing its occupants.

You can adjust how the 5 Series handles using Driving Dynamics Control, which offers Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport modes. M models feature an adaptive suspension and sport brakes, further improving performance. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The engines are punchy yet smooth, and the driving dynamics deliver sufficient sensations for the enthusiast while also providing long-distance comfort for all occupants." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "In our brief experience with this generation 5 Series, we found it offers the kind of all-day comfort we expect from BMW. Ride quality, especially with the adaptive suspension, is excellent, and the cabin is very quiet." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "This German luxury sedan is highly satisfying thanks to great steering feel, a quiet cabin, and the ability to strike a balance between agile handling and overall comfort." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
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2020 BMW 5-Series

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