by Jay Traugott
Not only does the new model year bring an updated BMW 5 Series, but also its plug-in hybrid counterpart. Meet the 2021 BMW 5 Series 530e and 530e xDrive, one of the best overall blends of efficiency and sporty driving in a mid-size luxury sedan. Like the non-hybrid 5 Series lineup, the 530e features a number of styling upgrades inside and out to keep it looking fresh for the next few years. Bear in mind this is not a complete redesign, but rather a mid-life facelift. The current seventh-generation 5 Series was introduced in 2016.
Like the 540i, the updated 530e features improved fuel efficiency technology that will save owners a significant amount of money at the pumps, no matter how low the price of gasoline has become recently. For those who are into technology features, BMW has provided a massive improvement by making Live Cockpit Professional with iDrive7 standard.
This grand combination of updates and improvements makes the 2021 BMW 5 Series Hybrid one of the top players within its segment.
The 2021 530e's exterior styling is nearly identical to that of the 530i and 540i models, with the exception of unique badging out back indicating its PHEV status. The main styling update takeaways here are what BMW describes as a "cleaner surface design" complemented by a larger and wider trademark kidney grille and a new look for the LED headlights which feature two L-shaped daytime running lights that also do double duty as turn signals. Also notice that the vertical grille slats are more pronounced than before.
The sedan's overall length slightly increases by 1.2 inches because of the "more sweeping profile" that reflects the improved aerodynamics. The taillights also feature the L-shaped look along with black edging and 3D lenses. A set of 18-inch wheels come standard wearing all-season run-flat tires.
Regardless of which 5 Series variant you prefer, all come standard with Live Cockpit Professional featuring iDrive 7. This package includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and a 12.3-inch central touchscreen display. Until now, the latter measured at 10.5 inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard and the buttons located on the center console are finished in a stylish high-gloss black. Overall interior dimensions remain unchanged from last year.
Other standard features include a moonroof, sport leather steering wheel, Anthracite headliner, and ambient lighting. There's also a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat.
Perhaps the most significant update for the 2021 5 Series Hybrid is its new eDrive technology featuring a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 181 horsepower paired to an electric motor offering 107 hp. There's also a new XtraBoost function that provides an additional 40 ponies for up to 10 seconds when the driver fully presses the throttle. This results in a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. As of this writing, BMW has not confirmed the sedan's all-electric range, though we expect it to be a bit better than last year's 20 miles. Official fuel economy figures have also yet to be announced.
Power is directed to either the rear or all four wheels (xDrive is BMW-speak for AWD) through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Although the 5 Series Hybrid isn't the so-called enthusiast's choice, it does come standard with a double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension for solid handling and long-distance comfort.
Pricing for the plug-in hybrid 530e begins at $57,200 and $59,500 for the 530e xDrive. They also qualify for federal and state tax credits. According to BMW, order books are already open and the first deliveries are set to begin this July.