2021 BMW 5-Series

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
March 3, 2021

Buying tip

All-wheel drive not only adds more traction in inclement weather, it boosts performance.

features & specs

530e Plug-In Hybrid
530e xDrive Plug-In Hybrid
530i Sedan
MPG
Coming Soon
MPG
Coming Soon
MPG
25 city / 33 hwy
MSRP
$57,200
MSRP
$59,500
MSRP
$54,200

The 2021 BMW 5-Series pushes all the right buttons for mid-size luxury shoppers. And there are a lot of them.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW 5-Series? What does it compare to?

The 2021 BMW 5-Series is a luxury mid-size sedan that runs more options than a college quarterback with a weak arm and quick feet. It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, and Genesis G80. 

Is the 2021 BMW 5-Series a good car?

Review continues below

Yes. An adaptive suspension, loaded standard feature set, and advanced convenience and safety technology earn it a high TCC Rating of 7.2 out of 10.(Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 BMW 5-Series?

A mild refresh of the seventh-generation 5-Series broadens the grille, narrows the adaptive LED headlights that come standard this year, and lengthens the hood a bit to allow for a new mild hybrid system on the 540i model.

The base 530i packs a punchy turbo-4 in rear-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive, with a seamless 8-speed automatic transmission that’s as impressive an engineering feat as the adaptive suspension that reads the nuances of the road and enhances good driving while mitigating sloppy driving. 

The 530e turns the base sedan into a plug-in hybrid with improved power this year, though the pedestrian 20-mile electric range remains. 

The 540i uses a mild hybrid system that boosts the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 and shuts off the engine to recapture energy while coasting, improving fuel economy 2 mpg to 27 mpg combined, which is just 1 mpg shy of the 530i. Strap on all-wheel drive to hit 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. 

The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 in the M550i does it quicker and has an enhanced M suspension with a lower ride height, added grip on larger tires, and more performance goodies. For the full M treatment, there’s the 617-horsepower M5 Competition that rockets to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. 

The 5-Series seats four in comfort but the fifth seat should be used as an armrest or a pass-through to the long but narrow trunk. Standard 16-way power front seats with lumbar support provide plenty of comfort, but luxury essentials like leather upholstery, heated seats, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cost extra. 

BMW shows off its commitment to advanced technology with a 12.3-inch touchscreen that’s 2.0 inches larger than last year and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that customizes driver preferences. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as excellent natural voice commands and silly but addictive gesture controls, simply the infotainment experience while still providing layers of options.  

Standard driver assist systems such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and blind-spot monitors complement top safety ratings from the IIHS, and a slew of safety options, such as a surround-view camera with parking sensors, help safeguard the body and the bodies inside. 

How much does the 2021 BMW 5-Series cost?

The 530i costs $55,195, including $995 destination, the M550i stretches to $77,795, and the full M as in Masterful tops out at $112,095. Yeah. All-wheel drive adds $2,300 on all but the M550i and M, where it’s standard. 

Where is the 2021 BMW 5-Series made?

In Bavaria, of course. Dingolfing, Germany to be precise.

6

2021 BMW 5-Series

Styling

Subdued but stylish, the 2021 5-Series serves as a template for the luxury mid-size sedan.

Is the 2021 BMW 5-Series a good-looking car?

The familiar formula of the 5-Series, with a long nose, short deck, and a long wheelbase with muscular wheel wells, may seem commonplace by how often it has been emulated. Amirite, Volvo S90, Cadillac CT5, and outgoing Genesis G80? It’s 1.2 inches longer, but fortunately that trademark kidney grille grew only modestly this year. 

The fine but familiar exterior and warm interior earn it a point to get a 6. 

The adaptive headlights get a little narrower and have twin L-shaped daytime running lights that double as indicators. The taller and wider grille with more pronounced slats nudge the headlights out. The rear features bolder tailpipe finishers with a new taillight design. 

Inside, two 12.3-inch screens fill a dash that comes with a nice but sedate contrast of available leather with wood trim separated by chrome dash elements. Nothing stands out, including the controller dial in the center console or the butterfly center armrest, but it envelops riders in warmth and comfort. The refreshed Mercedes E-Class does it better.

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7

2021 BMW 5-Series

Performance

With four powertrain options, the BMW 5-Series can be a V-8 beast or a conscientious hybrid.

Four potent turbocharged engines, ranging from a plug-in hybrid to a twin-turbo V-8, provide a range of choices with corresponding acceleration. The rear-wheel-drive 5-Series handles like a plus-size dancer, light on its 18-inch wheels, and nimble despite its generous proportions. It’s a 7. 

How fast is the 2021 BMW 5-Series?

The base 530i model packs a punch with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, good enough to reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, or 5.8 with all-wheel drive. Ready acceleration is made better by linear delivery from the superlative 8-speed automatic transmission that goes deep into the red during Sport mode driving and remains effortlessly calm in EcoPro or Comfort mode. 

A 2.0-liter engine pairs to a 12.0-kwh battery pack to boost the 530e plug-in hybrid to 288 hp and 310 lb-ft. The improvement of 40 hp from last year’s model results in a 5.7-second 0-60 mph time but a middling 20 miles of all-electric range. That hardly justifies the $3,000 upcharge, even with available governmental subsidies. 

The new mild-hybrid system on the 540i is worth the money, however. The two-battery system takes the load off the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with a coasting function that returns energy to the larger 48-volt starter generator, which then powers the 12-volt battery to run the electrical systems in the cabin. The starter/generator provides a boost of 11 hp for total output of 335 hp and 332 lb-ft. It never lacks for power. Unlike current politics, the transfer of power is virtually unnoticeable, except for the power monitor on the touchscreen and digital cluster. It improves efficiency by 2 mpg and boosts 0-60 mph time to 4.6 seconds with all-wheel drive.

The M550i’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 comes with all-wheel drive standard. It needs it to get 523 hp and 553 lb-ft to the pavement for a 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. 

If that’s not quick enough, there’s a higher strung variant that wrings out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft in the M5, or 617 hp in the M5 Competition. The face melt happens in 3.1 seconds. 

Is the 5-Series 4WD?

The sedan can be had with all-wheel drive for $2,300 more on 530 and 540 models; it’s standard on the V-8 car. It’s heavier but quicker that way, and the double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension never betray the crossover-like 4,000-pound average weight. 

The suspension, with the adaptive dampers on the M package or standard on the M550i, vies for the 8-speed automatic as the finest element of the 5-Series. The adaptive dampers help it hug the road, and challenges the driver to go quicker in and out of turns without losing its sure footing. The 5-Series can cruise comfortably and leisurely, or button down on a switch to run quicker, turn sharper, and handle with more firmness and agility. 

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8

2021 BMW 5-Series

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 BMW 5-Series favors the journey to the destination.

The quiet comfy cabin of the 2021 BMW 5-Series says serenity now. It grew 1.2 inches at the bumpers, so the same 117-inch wheelbase as last year results in the same roomy interior. Comfy front and rear seats, and a refined interior best shod in a variety of upgraded lighter leathers and trimmed in wood, rate it an 8. 

One of two grades of leather upholstery should be made standard on the 5-Series, but BMW wraps the 16-way power-adjustable front seats in synthetic leather with contrast stitching. The available 20-way seats with automatic bolstering that corresponds to the drive mode makes the lovely seat even better, added by thigh extenders and head rest recliners. 

A middle seat rider in back won’t be as charmed by the adequate leg and head room, and heated option on the outboard seats. The center is best used as a pass through from the 40/20/40 split rear seats into the long but narrow 14.0 cubic feet of trunk space. The 530e plug-in hybrid trims that cargo volume down to 10.0 cubic feet.

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8

2021 BMW 5-Series

Safety

The 2021 BMW 5-Series can withstand a crash as effectively as it can avoid one.

How safe is the BMW 5-Series?

Despite being redesigned for 2017, the BMW 5-Series has not warranted official crash testing by the NHTSA. Otherwise, it checks all the safety boxes to earn an 8. 

The IIHS crowned the 5-Series a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with adaptive LED headlights last year. This year it aced all six crash tests—but received an Acceptable rating for its LATCH child seat system. It does not have a Top Safety Pick award this year because its pedestrian-protection system hasn't been tested. If it is, we'll update our score.

The 5-Series comes with standard driver assist systems that help it avoid or mitigate a crash as well, such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, rear automatic braking, and automatic high beams. 

The optional Driving Assistance Plus Package adds adaptive cruise control that can restart from a stop, active lane control, an emergency setting that can bring the car to a stop on a highway shoulder, and hands-free driving up to about 37 mph in clearly marked divided highways with a lead vehicle present. 

Good outward vision aids drivers, abetted by other options such as a surround-view camera system, parking sensors, and a built-in dash cam.

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9

2021 BMW 5-Series

Features

The 2021 BMW 5-Series comes loaded with the latest tech and convenience features.

Advanced technology fills the cockpit of the 2021 5-Series but it can be programmed to be ever-present or nearly absent, allowing drivers to customize the cockpit. 

A wealth of standard features, such as dual 12.3-inch digital screens, excellent infotainment, and a bounty of convenience and performance options each earn a point on our scale, as does a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with 3 years/36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance. It’s a 9.   

The infotainment system has improved to be one of the best on the market, with natural voice commands that can do everything from put down windows or disable navigation voice guidance. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster adapts to the drive mode, so the tach becomes an energy usage monitor in EcoPro mode, for instance. Oddly, the button to toggle through the gauge info hides on the indicator stalk. 

Which BMW 5-Series should I buy?

Starting at $55,195, the 2021 5-Series comes with a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, keyless start, ambient lighting, a sunroof, power-adjustable front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, but not leather seats. 

Any colors other than white or black add at least $550 and leather hides add at least $1,500, which reflects the extensive options parsing in the 5-Series. 

For real hides and wireless smartphone compatibility, as well as adaptive cruise control, you’d have to step into our recommended model, the more powerful and efficient 540i for $60,445. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 BMW 5-Series?

The M5 sedan costs $104,495, and the Competition model tops out at $112,095. It wears revised bumpers for 2021, has a new Track mode with new shock absorbers and revised dampers. The Competition model rides 0.2 inches lower than the M5, and has firmer springs, ball joint mounts, and rear anti-roll bar. It’s made for tracking.

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5

2021 BMW 5-Series

Fuel Economy

With plug-in hybrid and twin-turbo V-8 options, the 2021 BMW 5-Series sips or guzzles fuel.

Is the 2021 BMW 5-Series good on gas? 

The four powertrain options create a spectrum of efficiency ranging from frugal to flush. The EPA rates the 530e plug-in hybrid at 26 mpg combined and for 21 miles of electric range.  

Beyond those outliers, the 2021 5-Series improved efficiency via a mild hybrid system on its 540i volume model to earn a 5 here. The turbo-6 gets an EPA-rated 25 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined. Last year’s model was 25 mpg combined.

The 530i gets the same 25/33/28 mpg. All-wheel drive knocks either model down 1 mpg combined.

The V-8 in the M550i got 20 mpg combined last year, but hasn't been rated this year.

Review continues below

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$54,200
MSRP based on 530i Sedan
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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 5
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2021 BMW 5-Series Pricing Insights

  • 2021 BMW 5-Series available; 2022s arriving
  • Lease: From $509 for 36 months
  • Rebate: $1,000 college grad discount
  • Financing: From 0.9% APR for 60 months
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