Buyer's Guide

2021 BMW 5-series
Select a Different Model (7 Available): 530e iPerformance Sedan
Horsepower $ 248@4,000
Torque 310@1,800
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  • M5's performance and handling
  • Comfortable ride
  • Luxurious interior


  • Finicky infotainment system
  • Standard models aren't much fun to drive
  • M5's numb steering

Once one of the most engaging midsize luxury sedans to drive, the BMW 5 Series has evolved into a luxury cruiser. Today, the most exciting 5 Series  is the M5, the most powerful of all 5 Series models. Like the pre-refresh car, you can choose between RWD and AWD depending on the engine option. A plug-in hybrid version is also available for consumers wanting an eco-minded luxury car.

What's New

  • Refresh of the current model featuring new headlights and minor exterior design tweaks
  • 540i models now feature a 48-volt mild hybrid system
  • Plug-in hybrid 530e variants get a power increase to 288 hp (40 hp more) thanks to improved battery capacity and a more powerful electric motor
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard along with dual 12.3-inch displays
  • M5 Competition models get a Track mode, recalibrated dampers and new shock absorbers

What We Think

Part of why consumers buy midsize luxury sedans is their ability to coddle occupants. The 5 Series excels here—it's a comfortable rolling sanctuary that also happens to possess excellent high-speed stability. Both the 540i and M550i devour the road at an alarming rate while keeping you and your passengers pampered. That focus on plushness, however, has made the 5 Series less engaging to drive. Numb steering and unresponsive handling mean you won't have a good time tossing the car into corners; it'll take a turn confidently, but you won't get much joy out of the drive. Other issues include the infotainment system's steep learning curve. Too many functions are buried under multiple submenus, which can make the interface hard to use on the go.

The M5 adds some much needed enjoyment thanks to its insanely quick acceleration and superb handling. A playful chassis and loads of grip breathe life into the M5. If you must have the sportiest experience, consider the 617-hp M5 Competition, which is $7,600 more than the standard M5. Thanks to a number of suspension and chassis tweaks, the M5 Competition is sharp when pushed hard. Quibbles? The lack of steering feel. None of the three modes give the driver enough of a connection to the vehicle.

Performance, Fuel Economy, and Range

The 2021 BMW 5 Series is available five different powertrain options, and all are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Model: 530i and 530i xDrive
Engine and Transmission: 
2.0-liter turbo I-4 - eight-speed automatic
248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy:
25/33 mpg city/highway (530i); 23/32 mpg (530i xDrive)

Model: 530e and 530e xDrive plug-in hybrid
Engine and Transmission: 
2.0-liter turbo I-4 + electric motor - eight-speed automatic
288 hp and 310 lb-ft

Model: 540i and 540i xDrive
Engine and Transmission:
3.0-liter turbo I-6 - eight-speed automatic 
335 hp/332 lb-ft
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy:
25/32 mpg (540i); 23/31 mpg (540i xDrive)

Model: M550i xDrive
Engine and Transmission:
4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 - eight-speed automatic 
523 hp/553 lb-ft
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy:
17/25 mpg

Model: M5 and M5 Competition
Engine and Transmission: 
4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
600 hp/553 lb-ft (M5); 617 hp/553 lb-ft (M5 Competition)
EPA-Rated Fuel Economy:
15/21 mpg


BMW's Active Driving Assistance suite of collision prevention technologies is standard on every 2021 5 Series. The package bundles lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. The Driving Assistance Plus package adds traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control, evasion assist, front cross-traffic alert, and lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance.

The pre-refresh 2020 model earned a 2019 Top Safety Pick + rating from the IIHS.


The latest version of BMW's infotainment system features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 12.3-inch display for the instrument cluster and infotainment, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and built-in navigation. BMW also offers a head-up display, gesture control capability for the main touchscreen, a wireless charging pad, a 360-degree view parking camera system, and an automatic parking system.

Two 16-speaker sound system upgrades are available including a Harman Kardon and Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system. The latter is only available on the M550i xDrive and M5 variants.

Recommended Model

Unless you must have V-8 power and track-ready performance, the 540i models offer the best balance of acceleration, features, and fuel economy. The RWD 540i has essentially the same EPA fuel economy ratings as the base 530i yet offers significantly more power. Additionally, you can add nearly every feature except the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system and performance upgrades specific to the M550i xDrive, M5, and M5 Competition.

Key Competitors:

Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl Turbo 2.0 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, Steptronic 8 Speed Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode (8HP75H)
530e iPerformance Sedan
Luxury Passenger Car
Standard MPG
Body Style
Fuel Type
Unleaded Premium
Seating Capacity
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
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Full Warranty Miles
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IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$1000 BMW announces Lease/APR Credit on select models for eligible College Graduates. 12-31-2020
$3250 BMW announces a Military Program for cash customers. 01-04-2021
$500 BMW announces a Military Program for customers who Lease/OwnersChoice/Retail Finance/Select Finance through BMW Financial Services that is good towards a purchase or lease of select models. 01-04-2021
$2750 BMW announces a Customer Cash Credit on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$2750 BMW announces APR Credit that is good towards a purchase through BMW Financial Services of select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$1750 BMW announces Lease Credit on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021