- Upgraded tech
- Seamless app integration
- Great transmission
- Lightweight and nimble
- Competent engines
- Expensive in a hurry
- Some color combos don't work
- Rearview camera optional
- A departure for some BMW enthusiasts
The 2017 BMW 5-Series may do for tech sedans what turn-of-the-century 5-Series did for sport sedans.
For all that BMW has done for sport sedans in the past decades, it's clear the future is decidedly high-tech.
For that, the new 2017 BMW 5-Series doesn't pull any punches. The mid-size luxury sedan comes equipped with a flotilla of self-driving assistants and integrated apps; five different ways to change the radio station; and a touchscreen for your pocket, which can help "walk" your car into a parking space. Not that long ago, "car play" in a 5-Series meant burning through a set of Bridgestones on a curvy road. Now, CarPlay in a BMW can make dinner reservations—and it's wireless.
The 2017 BMW 5-Series is initially offered in two versions in this new generation, a 530i or 540i. Those will be followed closely by a more-efficient plug-in hybrid 530e and a high performance M550 xDrive.
This year's models earn an 8.0 overall on our scorecards, but that'll likely change once safety numbers come in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The new 5-Series picks up where the outgoing generation left off. Up front, the bigger kidney grilles, chrome accents, and larger headlights may be the most noticeable differences, but many styling updates such as active grille shutters and a more sculpted front bumper help cut down on turbulent air and make the 5-Series more efficient.
Inside, the new 5-Series should be recognizable to anyone who's driven the mid-sizer in the last decade. New for this year is an updated 8.0-inch LED instrument cluster that brings up to speed our biggest gripe with some BMW sedans—the gauges are classic, but the LCD screen was far too retro.
A 10.2-inch touchscreen placed atop the dash dominates attention, but the finer details are worth a look. The interior surfaces are awash in solid materials and soft-touch surfaces. The headliner even soaks up some of the sounds to keep cabin conversations civilized.
Under the hood for 2017 is a choice between two turbocharged engines mated to an excellent 8-speed automatic. The first engine, a turbo-4 found in the 530i, makes 248 horsepower (up 8 hp from last year) and is capable of flinging the 5-Series to 60 mph in 6 seconds. It's a new engine from BMW and one that'll surely make its way into other models, but in the 5-Series it's refined, competent, and quiet, only pressed in passing.
The turbo-6 in the 540i is the performance pick—for now—and produces 335 hp (up 35 hp from last year) and makes the 60-mph sprint in under 5 seconds. Predictably, the 540i is more fun to drive, but both engines are competent in chewing through miles.
That's due in part to a very good 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters that we suggest gather dust—the transmission's logic doesn't need any help from us. All-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive, is available from the outset and configurable with more goodies this time around too.
A revised suspension and available adaptive dampers transform the 5-Series from well-mannered sedan to athletic performer in a hurry, and even the 18-inch standard run-flat tires can't spoil the ride. Yeah, it's that good.
Comfort, safety, and features
By the numbers, the new 5-Series grew 1.2 inches bumper-to-bumper and presumably all that space went into the back seat—rear seat leg room increased exactly 1.2 inches too.
As a result, the 5-Series is comfortable for four adults, with 18.7 cubic feet of trunk space for gear. It shuttled four medium to large adults more than 60 miles through Northern California en route to an airport without much hassle, competently carrying bodies and gear.
BMW makes standard its leatherette upholstery in the new 5-Series, which we haven't yet sampled, but various grades and shades of hides await well-heeled buyers. At the top, nappa leather is the softest and can be teamed with multi-contour massaging seats, but be warned: contrast stitching, quilting, and piping can somewhat muddle the whole composition.
Beyond expressive leather choices, the BMW 5-Series is quiet and refined—just the way we like it.
Government testers haven't yet ruined a new 5-Series with a wall, so we can't make any complete predictions on its new architecture. We can report that its active safety systems, such as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and self-driving features work well—for more than 30 seconds hands off, actually—but still exhibit some "lane pinballing" not found on cars like the Audi A4. Additionally, the IIHS gave it top marks—its Top Safety Pick+ award when optioned with automatic emergency braking and extra-cost premium LED headlights.
If you're in the mood for active safety features that can add up to $5,000 to the overall price of the 5-Series, we congratulate you on great life success. Next, we'd like to talk about some of the other features you may be interested in, including a $4,200 optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo that sounds like you were there, man.
Other good features include a smartly packaged cold weather bundle that adds front and rear heated seats, a head-up display and rearview camera combo that we'd consider, and Apple CarPlay for $300. Granted, most other automakers don't directly charge for CarPlay, but BMW's system is the first to run wirelessly, and we like it.
Without any of those options, the 530i starts at $52,195, but can be as rich as you like from there. Our 540i tester added $25,000 in options that ballooned its bottom price to nearly $82,000 all told. Things have changed, you know.
2017 BMW 5-Series
The all-new 5-Series may have a staid look, but it won't get ugly any time soon.
Although the 2017 BMW 5-Series is all new this year, it may be hard to spot some of the differences from the outgoing model.
If the letters and numbers E39, F10, and G30 mean anything to you, we're guessing you already know the differences. If those sound like keno callouts, let's talk.
We say the 5-Series is handsome, inside and out. It earns a 7 out of 10 on our scale for style with a caveat—it may stay that way for a while. It's not adventurous, but it is elegant. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
On the outside, the 2017 version is distinguishable by its bigger kidney-shaped grilles and headlights that reach into the larger chrome surrounds. The front bumper is sculpted more and reaches splits the lower fascia into two intakes and a large center scoop.
Along the sides, the new 5-Series more closely resembles the new 7-Series, but has two distinct character lines along the door handles and under the windows that help set it apart from the bigger sedan.
Around back, the 5-Series gets updated LED taillights and a more aggressive lower bumper that shows off two chromed exhaust ports.
Although the interior isn't a dramatic departure from the last generation, it sports upgraded materials and tech that help bring it within range of the rest of the mid-size luxury sedans.
The tech that's visible won't be all that impressive to shoppers looking at comparable models from Mercedes-Benz or Volvo. (However, if you haven't set foot in a new luxury car for the last 5 years, welcome to the future.) The new BMW 5-Series isn't a holodeck with ultrasonic haptic feedback or mind-reading software—at least not yet. What's more impressive is the tech you can't see, with better app integration and seamless handoff between services that makes the 5-Series truly interesting.
A 10.2-inch touchscreen is the main focal point for driver and passenger and its crisp integrated display looks nice. A new 8.0-inch LED instrument cluster gives the 5-Series a much-needed makeover for driver information, but it's not like the "wall of screens" you might find in a new E-Class.
Beyond the gee-whiz gear, the 5-Series is awash in leather and soft-touch surfaces befitting a car of its price tag. Although we have our gripes with some of the color combinations and contrast stitching, it's a highbrow approach to carmaking that allays some our concerns that we've found in other cars.
2017 BMW 5-Series
The first 5-Series models to reach the U.S. only hint at what's soon to come.
For 2017, BMW is bringing two flavors of the new 5-Series stateside, before diversifying the portfolio only two months later.
The first two models, a 530i and 540i, couple a pair (Eds note: That's fun to say.) of turbocharged engines to a good 8-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive.
The 8-speed is great, same goes with the handling and ride from the adaptive dampers, and both earn points above average on our performance metric. Optionally equipped, the M Sport brakes are extremely competent, but we're not sure how many buyers will spring for those. It earns a 7 out of 10 by our books. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base turbo-4 is all new this year. The direct-injected inline-4 added 8 more horsepower over the outgoing engine from last year and now produces 248 hp and 258 pound-feet of twist. According to BMW, the turbo-4 should make the 0-60 sprint in roughly 6 seconds, which is comparable to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo S90. In most situations, the base engine should satisfy daily commuting tasks and stoplight grand prix duty—it only feels pressed in passing situations.
BMW fans will notice that the 540i badge was once reserved for a 4.4-liter V-8 planted under hood more than a decade ago. The name returns this year, but the engine has changed dramatically. This time, the 540i sports a turbo-6 under the hood that makes 335 hp (up 35 from last years 535i) and 332 lb-ft. The turbo-6 erases any longing for two more cylinders—the inline-6 does just fine on its own. According to BMW, the 540i will run up to 60 mph in under 5 seconds in rear drive, 4.7 seconds with all-wheel drive equipped.
For 2017, BMW is making available all-wheel drive from the outset, and xDrive can be configured for the first time with adaptive dampers or rear-wheel steering in 530i models—or all three in 540i models. BMW's adaptive dampers vary between comfort or sport—with plenty of differences between the two—but neither setting felt overly soft or harsh. A secondary sport setting was the firmest, and still didn't make the 5-Series crash over imperfect roads. We didn't have a chance to sample the base suspension setup, so we'll update this space once we do.
Our only gripe was with the rear-wheel steering system, which BMW calls Integral Active Steering, and is a $1,150 option. On our 530i tester, the rear-wheel steering system counter-steers the rear wheels at low speeds—which aids maneuverability—or coordinates the fronts with the rears at higher speeds, which should make turn-in sharper. At high speeds, the effect could be unnerving, like the back end was "skating" around corners.
In cars without rear steering, the 5-Series remained flat and composed, without much drama from the chassis. Although BMW recalibrated the electric power steering from last year, the wheel still has a generous on-center "dead spot" in comfort mode. Sport settings add a predictable heft to the wheel and there's even a modicum of steering feel through the fat M Sport wheel, but the input doesn't feel entirely linear in really twisty canyon roads.
Enthusiasts won't have to wait long for a taste of what the new 5-Series may be capable of; a M550 xDrive will arrive stateside in April and a new M5 is reportedly in the works.
2017 BMW 5-Series
Comfort & Quality
Attention to detail has made the BMW 5-Series one of the most comfortable luxury mid-size sedans on the market.
In revamping the 5-Series for 2017, BMW made a stronger, lighter, more comfortable car that places it among the tops in its class for overall comfort.
Front seat passengers can be treated to ample and wide multi-contour seats that can massage away traffic frustrations. In back, rear passengers should find plenty of leg room for most body types and enough head room for tall passengers.
We say the front and back seats are very good, and with 18.7 cubic feet of trunk space, there's enough room for plenty of gear. In top configurations, optional leather can be incredibly soft, but we'd warn shoppers to look hard at the color configurations—some of them just don't work for us. We give it a 9 out of 10 for overall comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
By the numbers, the new 5-Series is 1.2 inches longer than the outgoing model, head-to-tail. Seemingly, all of that extra length has gone to rear-seat passengers too—leg room in the back grew by 1.2 inches as well.
The 5-Series comes standard with BMW's leatherette upholstery, which it calls SensaTec. We haven't yet sampled cars shod with those kinds of seats, but based on other experiences with that material, it should be fine for daily wear and comfort.
To upgrade the 5-Series' seats beyond SensaTec requires a $2,400 Premium Package add-on that adds wireless phone charging, a touchscreen keyfob, and adaptive LED headlights. More shades are available with the optional hides, including an attractive Night Blue that we'd be hard-pressed to pass up.
Our test cars were equipped all the way with nappa leather, multi-contour seats that provided much softer leather and massage functions for an eye-watering $4,000 all told. We appreciated the adjustable bolstering and long leg cushions, but the contrast stitching, piping, and quilting made the interior look a little busier than it needed to be—especially in the rich brown that BMW calls Mocha. Our suggestion: Take a long look before committing that much coin.
Fit and finish in the 2017 BMW 5-Series is exceptional and smartly enhanced. A rubberized polyurethane tucked inside the door handles and on the bottom of some of the seat adjusters is a thoughtful touch. The optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system is sublime, but there's no easy way to put this: it adds $4,200 to the price tag.
Inside, the 5-Series is quiet and reserved, keeping harsh vibrations outside the cabin. The 530i is equipped with a turbo-4 that uses direct injection, which is normally a recipe for harsh noises and unnerving growls. The 5er manages to keep most of those noises away from the driver and passengers, assisted by a specialized sound-deadening headliner.
Despite rolling on standard run-flats, the 2017 BMW 5-Series is the first BMW in memory that isn't overly sprung to compensate (which can make it feel splashy) nor is it unnecessarily harsh over rough roads.
In all, the small things make a big difference in the new 5-Series.
2017 BMW 5-Series
Full data for the 5-Series isn't in yet, but available advanced safety features bring it up with the rest of the class.
Federal testers haven't yet crash-tested the 2017 BMW 5-Series' new architecture, but the IIHS says it's a Top Safety Pick+.
Pending the feds' ratings, we're withholding our official safety score, but available advanced safety features should place it among the leaders in its class for preventative safety if things go wrong on the road. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2017 BMW 5-Series is built atop an all-new platform for the sedan, which utilizes more high-strength steel and aluminum to make the car lighter and stronger, according to BMW. And the IIHS agrees, awarding it with its top prize—when fully optioned with low- or full-speed automatic emergency braking and optional LED headlights with automatic high beams.
There are a raft of available advanced safety features that keep the 5-Series from running into things in the real world.
The BMW comes with a standard complement of front and rear passenger airbags, seat belt pretensioners, and an emergency notification system that will transmit the car's location and severity of the crash to BMW's call center. Traction and stability control systems are also standard.
When equipped, the 2017 BMW 5-Series also includes blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning. Additional packages can add adaptive cruise control, active lane control, a surround-view camera system, and side collision warning. Those additional systems can drive the BMW for more than 30 seconds without driver input, before warning the driver to resume control of the car.
The downside of those systems is that they can add more than $3,000 to the bottom line for the 5-Series, and when fully equipped can add nearly $5,000 to the car's overall price. A rearview camera is $400 as a standalone option, or can be bundled in an $1,800 package that includes a head-up display and parking sensors. That's a big ask for a car that starts at more than $50,000, according to us.
Outward visibility is fairly good for the sedan, and optional M Sport brake packages can add anchors that significantly decrease stopping distance in the sedan. A test panic stop from 40 mph in our test car resulted in an exceptionally quick stop, without nose dive or loss of control.
The IIHS says that a 5-Series with the optional Driving Assistance Plus package with its low-speed automatic emergency braking earns a Superior, its top individual award. The Driver Assistance II package delivers valuable full-speed automatic emergency braking, which is also highly rated by the IIHS.
2017 BMW 5-Series
The BMW 5-Series may not be the flagship for the luxury automaker—but it's certainly equipped like one.
The 2017 BMW 5-Series is significantly updated from the previous year with a major emphasis on tech. Although historically the 5-Series has been a surprisingly agile sport sedan with mid-size dimensions, the sea change in buyers' preferences for the latest and greatest tech demands a different approach.
The new 5-Series, which is offered as a 530i or 540i, can be equipped with the latest in car connectivity, self-driving features, and creature comforts that were once the purview for mega-buck luxury cars.
As it is now, the 2017 BMW 5-Series earns points in our books for outstanding base features, very good options, an impressive infotainment screen, and thoughtfully integrated apps that we've decided is a "killer app" itself. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
All 5-Series come equipped with 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires, a moonroof, power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation, 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster, LED headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, and leatherette upholstery that BMW calls SensaTec.
Like any good BMW, the options list is long and healthy for the new 5-Series and can easily tack on tens of thousands of dollars, like our 540i tester did when it blitzed the order sheet for more than $25,000 in extra goodies.
We have our preferred packages on the order sheet:
• At $800, a cold-weather package that includes a heated steering wheel and front and rear heated seats is a fairly good idea for northern buyers.
• While we don't applaud the idea for paying $300 for Apple CarPlay, the 5-Series application is unique: it's the first car in the U.S. that runs CarPlay wirelessly, which is useful.
• An $1,800 driver assistance package that adds BMW's new head-up display (it's 75 percent larger and is very crisp), parking sensors, and a rearview camera is a good add-on.
• At $4,200 more, the premium Bowers & Wilkins sound system isn't for everyone, but it should be heard by everybody. It's an audiophile's dream.
Some of the driver's convenience packages haven't sold us on their usefulness, including a pricey surround-view camera system that's bundled with a touchscreen key and remote parking feature that can advance or reverse the car a few dozen feet.
Similarly, high-priced nappa leather seating adds much softer hides, but some of the contrast stitching and piping makes the seats look somewhat jumbled.
And, while we applaud the inclusion of advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking, adding those packages can pad the bottom line anywhere from $3,200 to nearly $5,000 on top of the $52,195 price tag. Toyota offers many of those features as standard on some of their cars now.
2017 BMW 5-Series
It's too early for official EPA data, but the 2017 BMW 5-Series should be more efficient.
The 2017 BMW 5-Series has shed more than 120 pounds and uses a more efficient turbo-4 for its base engine.
Those two factors have helped the 5-Series become more efficient. The EPA rates the 530i at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined. Our fuel efficiency score of 7 is based on those ratings, but other versions don't fall far behind. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Adding all-wheel drive to the 530i, which BMW calls xDrive shaves 1 mpg from the city and highway rating. Opting for the bigger engine in the 540i nets a 20/30/24 mpg rating from the EPA.
The 5-Series is offered in 530i or 540i trims with a turbo-4 or a turbo-6 respectively. The turbo-4 is an all-new engine for BMW and will make its way in to other models, including smaller sedans and coupes. The turbo-4 uses direct injection, which is more efficient, and is paired to a smooth shifting 8-speed automatic. It's the efficiency leader for the 5-Series initially, but it won't stay that way for long.
Even thought it'll go on sale in April 2017, the new 530e iPerformance will be branded a 2018 model, and will be the first plug-in hybrid 5-Series. It marries a 9.2-kwh battery pack with a turbo-4 that should net significantly better efficiency than the 530i. Why is that important for 2017? The 2017 BMW 530i should go on sale in February with the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance model following closely in April. The two models are priced nearly identically, and the 530e qualifies for federal tax incentives and any applicable state rebates—effectively making it cheaper than the gas-powered model.