2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan

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2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Test Drive Review: Still The Benchmark Performance Sedan

We're now halfway into the seventh generation of BMW's luxury midsize sedan, the BMW 5 Series. That means it's time for a refresh featuring the now-requisite longer kidney grille, revised headlights and taillights, some new paint choices, and refinement for hybrid models, along with the accompanying revision of the interior to finally include Android Auto. But even with comprehensive revision, the 5 Series recipe is much the same as it was before. It's a sedan that has long been a benchmark for premium sedans that are as happy on a long freeway ride as they are in heavy traffic or on a winding backroad - a true driver's luxury sedan, if you will, that prioritizes performance over the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or the technocentricity of the Audi A6.

However, the newest generation of 5 Series is one of the most well-rounded yet. It has encroached more on Mercedes territory while retaining a sharp chassis and great driving dynamics. With power ranging from 248 horsepower to 523 hp and engines including turbocharged four-pots, plug-in hybrids, and a twin-turbo semi-M V8, there's something for everyone.

Read in this review:

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2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 5 Series Sedan?

For 2021, the BMW 5 Series receives a few exterior design tweaks, a larger touchscreen interface, and the addition of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for the six-cylinder variants. Starting with the outside, the latest 5 Series receives a revised grille and reshaped headlamp clusters with distinctive LED daytime running lamps. At the back, the taillights also received a refresh, while there are new tailpipe finishers as well. As a result of these changes, the 5 Series is now 1.2 inches longer than before. The range-topping M550i receives the aerodynamic kit that forms part of the M Sport package.

Inside, the central touchscreen has grown to a 12.3-inch unit, while Android Auto is finally standard. There is also a new cloud-based system called BMW Maps for a better navigation experience.

Mechanically, the 540i variants now benefit from a new 48-volt starter-generator that boosts efficiency and improves responsiveness when accelerating, even though maximum horsepower is unchanged. The 530e plug-in hybrid versions receive an extra 40 horses this year for a total output of 288 hp.

Pros and Cons

  • Classic, upscale sedan styling
  • Stunning interior quality
  • Improved infotainment interface
  • Spacious seating
  • Diverse engine lineup
  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • Very isolated driving experience
  • Pricey options
  • E-Class has a more striking interior

What's the Price of the BMW 5 Series Sedan?

The 2021 BMW 5 Series has a base price of $54,200 for the RWD 530i, increasing to $56,500 for the 530i xDrive. The plug-in hybrid 530e costs $57,200 and the 530e xDrive goes for $59,500. However, both these hybrid models could qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $5,836. At mid-range level, the 540i has an MSRP of $59,450 and the 540i xDrive will cost $61,750. Topping the lineup is the M550i xDrive with a price of $76,800. All of these prices exclude the brand's US destination charge of $995. When equipped with every available extra, the BMW 5 Series price - including the delivery charge - climbs to over $100,000 in the case of the M550i.

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2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
530i Sedan
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
530i xDrive Sedan
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
530e Plug-In Hybrid
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
540i Sedan
3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
530e xDrive Plug-In Hybrid
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Trims and Specs

2021 5 Series Sedan Exterior

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  • Length 195.8 in
  • Wheelbase 117.1 in
  • Height 58.2 in
  • Max Width 73.5 in
  • Front Width 63.2 in
  • Rear Width 64.2 in
  • Curb Weight 3,765.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Glacier Silver Metallic +$550
  • Mineral White Metallic +$550
  • Carbon Black Metallic +$550
  • Black Sapphire Metallic +$550
  • Dark Graphite Metallic +$550
  • Phytonic Blue Metallic +$550
  • Bluestone Metallic +$550
  • Bernina Grey Amber Effect Metallic +$550
  • Tanzanite Blue II Metallic, Priority 1 +$1,950
  • Individual Aventurin Red Metallic, Priority 1 +$1,950
  • Alpine White
  • Jet Black

2021 5 Series Sedan Performance

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Forward Vision CarBuzz
2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Rear-Facing View CarBuzz
2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid, 3.0L Turbo Inline-6 Gas, 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Last year we tested the most aggressive 5 Series before the M5, the M550i, and wondered if the M5 was actually the best 5 Series to buy for the performance enthusiast. This year, BMW loaned us the mid-range 540i xDrive with its turbocharged straight-six, now aided by a 48-volt electrical system. The straight-six is already a favorite for its responsiveness and smooth power delivery, but the extra juice improves on that sightly while also keeping the fuel economy more consistent. While not the most powerful option, it's still quick and aggressive enough in Sport mode to match the chassis.

The 5 Series is more than happy to carve its way through the curves with style, panache, and carrying more corner speed than its competitors. At its limits, the refined balance of the chassis will still keep the most exuberant drivers satisfied, despite the 5 Series now being a more cosseting car in Eco-Pro or Comfort mode.

Eco-Pro and Comfort mode are where most 540i owners will spend their time, and they will enjoy it. The ride is pliant and refined without feeling floaty, and when mixed with the comfortable and airy cabin, it's a car that will relax you on the way home from work or across long distances.

2021 5 Series Sedan Interior

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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.4 in
  • Front Head Room 38.8 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.5 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.5 in

2021 5 Series Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Trunk Space BMW
2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Cargo Space BMW
2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Back Seats CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    14 ft³

2021 5 Series Sedan Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.

Verdict: Is the 2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan A Good car?

BMW's 5 Series is still the benchmark for a full-size performance sedan despite losing a tiny bit of its edge. The benefit is an even more superior day-to-day ride with a strong engine and drivetrain selection. Not only is it incredibly comfortable, but it holds onto the 5 Series reputation of being a driver's car. It's also a technophile's car, but BMW has worked hard to make sure everything is easy to use with just a little effort needed to push through the learning curve. Add to that the excellent build quality, and you have an excellent car for those willing to pay the premium. It's still no surprise the BMW 5 Series is the default choice for the executive mid-size sedan.

If it sounds like the car for you, this is about as good as this generation will get. BMW has had time to work out the kinks, and while the updates are by the numbers, it's a solid one - particularly the mild hybrid added to the mid-range models.

What BMW 5 Series Sedan Model Should I Buy?

The 540i is still the sweet spot in terms of price and in terms of a balance between performance, tech features, and day-to-day economy. As a commuter or for those traveling for work, we would look at adding a few options like the Executive Package for $3,600 to take advantage of things like a head-up display, gesture control, wireless charging, and the Dynamic Handling package for when it's time to take the back road home. You'll still come out spending less than on the M550i, although we recommend performance hounds test drive the M550i before jumping straight into the M5.

Check out other BMW 5 Series Styles

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Comparisons

Audi A6
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan Mercedes-Benz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
BMW 5 Series Sedan523 hp17/25 mpg$56,000
Audi A6 261 hp24/31 mpg$56,900
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan 255 hp23/31 mpg$54,950

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan vs Audi A6

Other than the E-Class, the Audi A6 is the other traditional rival of the 5 Series. Much like the BMW, the A6 is a restrained but classy affair, both inside and out. Its highlights include peerless build quality, a serene ride, and an even more high-tech cabin that is mostly devoid of physical knobs and switches. Starting at a similar price point, the base Audi A6 can keep up with the 530i but doesn't have a rear-wheel-drive option as every A6 gets the quattro AWD system. Above this, the 5 Series proves to be the swifter car between these two. To drive, the BMW is a bit sharper by comparison but both manage to blend athletic handling with a calm ride. The cabins are similarly spacious, but the BMW has a slightly larger trunk. It's not easy to separate these two, but the BMW's better performance, better economy, and the availability of that powerful V8 give it the edge.

See Audi A6 Review

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan vs Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class underwent its own comprehensive facelift for the 2021 model year. Whether you like the stylistic changes or not will come down to personal taste, but there's no disputing that the E-Class has the most dashing cabin in this class. The dual 12.3-inch screens, plush materials, and classy detailing make the BMW's cabin look decidedly somber. Like the 540i, the mid-range E450 also uses an inline-six engine with electric assistance, but the BMW is quicker and, in RWD form, more efficient. The base model E350 and the more expensive E53 AMG are both slower than the equivalent 5 Series. To drive, the E-Class is immensely comfortable while the 5 Series encourages you to push it a bit harder. In most cases, the margins between these two are so slim that brand preference will likely be the deciding factor.

See Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan Review

2021 BMW 5 Series Sedan Popular Comparisons

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