KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The 525i and 530i sedans are two of BMW's most successful vehicles. Their powerful styling is matched by two new six-cylinder engines introduced last year. With more interior room than a 3 Series but less exterior bulk than the pricey 7 Series, the 525i and 530i comfortably fill the dual roles of being both performance and family sedans. Beyond their trademark styling and obvious social status, the BMW 5 Series sedans offer a number of genuine advantages, such as a six-speed manual transmission, the availability of all-wheel drive (525xi and 530xi) and the latest advances in electronically assisted suspension, steering and engine operation.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you like cutting-edge design and enjoy driving something that's unique and highly distinctive, the 5 Series is more than worthy of consideration. Its innovative exterior is bested only by the amount of technology inside the cabin, under the hood and throughout the chassis and suspension. The standard six-speed manual transmission is a rarity in this class.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you've come to love the look of previous-generation BMW cars both inside and out, the 5 Series may be a visual disappointment. For the money, there are other cars on the market offering similar levels of luxury and, in some cases more interior space, although without all the complicated high-tech wizardry.
What's Significant About This Car?
A four-year subscription to BMW Assist is now standard on the 5 Series. Other enhancements include an auxiliary input jack for use with an external MP3 player, the availability of High Definition Radio, a new steering wheel and 20-way adjustable sport seats with the Sport Package and BMW's Night Vision thermal imaging system.
Our test 530i was equipped with the Sport Package that included BMW's Active Suspension, Active Steering and 18-inch run-flat tires. At highway speeds, the system is almost undetectable, and our test car tracked straight and true in the best BMW tradition. By the completion of our test, we were fans of the Active Steering technology.
In contrast, the Active Suspension behaved transparently (and brilliantly), enabling a smooth ride even over choppy pavement and providing unimaginably tenacious grip in sharp corners. The 530i's 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine supplies great low-end torque and smooth throttle response. Our test car came equipped with a six-speed manual, which was an enjoyable departure from other cars of this class, though we imagine most 5 Series cars will be sold with the STEPTRONIC automatic transmission.
The improved iDrive system features better graphics and a console-mounted menu button.
Active Steering electronically varies the steering ratio based upon vehicle speed. As a result, the driver is required to give less input to the steering wheel when parking, performing U-turns or avoiding potholes.
The centerpiece of the 5 Series dash is an LCD screen that displays the iDrive functions. iDrive controls everything from the audio to the navigation and is operated from a joystick-like knob located on the console. Interior colors are limited to black, gray and tan, with wood trim used sparingly on the dash and doors. Front seat comfort is excellent, and the 5 Series offers reasonable rear-seat legroom in addition to a roomy trunk.
The 5 Series stands in sharp contrast to BMWs of the past. The subtle corners and simple lines have given way to sharp-creased edges and cat's-eye headlamp lenses. There are still some BMW trademark details, such as the twin-kidney grille and dog-leg rear door treatment, but with its bustle-back trunk and sculpted side panels, the 5 Series has definitely moved on to new design territory.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, iDrive control system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), illuminated remote keyless entry, dual heated power mirrors with right-hand tilt down (to assist in backing up), power glass moonroof, leatherette seating, power tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls, Dynamic Stability Control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, 10-way power seats, front and rear head-protection airbags, 17-inch wheels, fog lights, poplar wood trim and a six-speed manual transmission.
Notable Optional Equipment
Notable options for the 5 Series include Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) or STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, Active Cruise Control, Night Vision thermal imaging system, High Definition Radio, Head-Up Display, run-flat tires, Active Steering, ventilated leather seating, Active Roll Stabilization, rear side-impact airbags, remote start and 20-way power seats.
Under the Hood
The six-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine is a clear improvement over previous six-cylinder engines, offering increased horsepower at a much lower rpm; however, the 525i's modest torque rating won't impress true BMW devotees. The 530i may be the model to shoot for, offering much more in the way of low-end performance while still returning reasonably good fuel economy. If you have the need for more speed, a V8 engine is available in the 550i, but it will cost nearly $15,000 more to satisfy your craving.
3.0-liter in-line 6
215 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
185 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)
3.0-liter in-line 6
255 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
220 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 (manual), 21/29 (automatic), 19/27 (SMG)
The 525i has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $44,195 while the 530i has an MSRP of $48,195. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows both the 525i and 530i to be selling at MSRP. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what people are paying for their 5 Series in your area. A broad spectrum of pricing allows the 5 Series to be competitive with such cars as the Audi A6, Lexus GS 300, Infiniti M35 and Mercedes E-Class. Though some competitive models, like the Volvo S80 and Jaguar S-Type, may cost less, the BMW 5 Series is widely regarded as the best value in its class. In terms of resale, the BMW 5 Series is one of the leaders in its class and truly stellar in comparison to the rest of the industry.