Long regarded as the benchmark for midsize luxury sports sedans, the BMW 5 Series maintains the performance cred it's established over the decades. These days, this 5-passenger executive car adds to its appeal with a wide range of models to compete with rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Lexus GS.
You'll Like The 2015 BMW 5 Series If...
If you want your executive sedan to boast ample performance and technology along with luxurious amenities, the BMW 5 Series dishes out those traits in equal measure. Efficiency isn't lost on this German car, either, with 4-cylinder models attaining up to 34 mpg and a diesel good for 38 mpg.
You May Not Like The 2015 BMW 5 Series If...
If supple ride manners are more important than driving dynamics, try a Lexus or Mercedes. The latter also offers a diesel E-Class that earns up to 42 mpg. And while no one expects such a luxury car to be inexpensive, BMW's pricing structure is vast and climbs quickly.
For 2015 the 5 Series gains more standard features, including a sport leather steering wheel, LED fog lights, and enhanced Bluetooth and USB/smartphone connectivity. Higher-trim 550i models now include Comfort Access, which enables keyless entry and starting, plus a hands-free trunk-opening system. The Modern Line has been dropped.
The 2015 5 Series' 5-passenger cabin has familiar BMW design cues: a wide, driver-centric dash and controls, premium materials, and good room for occupants and their luggage. Controls for climate, audio and vehicle dynamics are generally easy to use. BMW's large command dial to the right of the stubby gear selector requires a learning curve – we suggest putting the vehicle in park and practicing its functions before getting under way. The sedan's 14-cubic-foot trunk offers good space, and standard 60/40 folding rear seats offer more flexibility. With its hatchback design and flat load floor, the 5 Series Gran Turismo offers even more cargo capacity.
The 5 Series sedan's design announces the car's athleticism without chasing fads. Up front is the requisite twin-kidney grille, the sides are crisply creased, and the rear features a nicely tapered trunk and contoured LED light strips. M5 models are identified by their quad exhaust outlets. All in all, the 5 Series sedan is anything but controversial. The same cannot be said about the larger 5 Series Gran Turismo, which appears bloated compared to its sleek sedan sibling. Despite its awkward rear, the tailgate sports a dual-access design that allows you to open a smaller trunklid or the entire hatch to load larger items.
Whether you choose a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive (dubbed "xDrive") model, the 5 Series remains one of the best-driving, best-handling sedans money can buy. While Audi is better known for its Quattro all-wheel-drive system, BMW's version offers peace of mind in cold-weather states where traction is compromised. No matter which 5 Series model you choose, power is abundant. Even the base 528i with its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder has a 0-60 mph time of around six seconds, swift for a car this size and an engine that small. Still, the sweet spot in the 5 Series lineup is the 535i, with an inline-6 that deftly splits the performance/efficiency equation between 4- and 8-cylinder 5 Series models. Those seeking ultimate driving will find it in the M5, a beast of a sedan whose turbocharged 560-horsepower V8 obliterates asphalt while its luxurious interior coddles passengers. All 5 Series have a start/stop function that cuts the engine at idle. If you find it intrusive as we do, know it's defeatable.
The 2015 BMW 5 Series has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $50,000 for a base 528i. Prices increase by several thousand dollars as you climb trims, with a 535i starting over $56,000 and a 550i debuting beyond $65,000. The sizzling M5 begins around $93,000. The 5 Series Gran Turismo variants start over $61,000. And keep in mind, these prices are before options. Competitors such as the Mercedes E-Class, Infiniti Q70, Jaguar XF and Lexus GS all share the 5 Series' roughly $50,000 starting price, while the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS and new Acura TLX start several thousand dollars below. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying. The BMW 5 Series' resale value is expected to be in line with competitors like the E-Class, except for the ActiveHybrid 5 and Gran Turismo models, which have poor residual value.
Even a base BMW 528i is well-equipped, as should be expected in a $50,000 sedan. Highlights include a standard navigation system, moonroof, bright xenon headlights, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD system with HD Radio reception, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season run-flat tires. Surprisingly, leather is still an option on base models, which use leather-like upholstery. Go one trim higher with the 535i and you get the real thing. Also extra is a rearview camera, something becoming standard on cars from mainstream brands. New BMWs include Ultimate Service, which includes four years/50,000 miles of scheduled maintenance.
Prone to indecisiveness? Be warned: There is a long, long list of options for the 2015 BMW 5 Series, both in package and standalone form. As daunting – and expensive – as this may be, one nice aspect is that most features are available across the line. That means you don't have to step up trims to have the 20-way climate-controlled front seats with massage function, hands-free trunk opener, full LED lights, Bang & Olufsen audiophile system, rear-seat entertainment screens, or a package that bundles features like lane-departure warning, active cruise control and a bird's-eye-view camera system. And we haven't even mentioned performance upgrades.
Today's diesels are clean, quiet and sophisticated. In other words, nothing like they used to be. One of the latest applications is in the BMW 535d sedan, which offers tremendous power, high fuel economy, and is available in both rear-drive and all-wheel-drive form.
M SPORT PACKAGE
Designed for those who wish to squeeze every ounce of performance from their 5 Series sedan, the M Sport Package ups the ante with a sport suspension, lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels and a higher electronically limited top speed.
Under the Hood
Numerous powertrains are offered in the 2015 BMW 5 Series. As we've noted, even the base 4-cylinder is lively and efficient, delivering up to 34 mpg in the EPA’s highway cycle. The 5 Series' mid-tier powerplant is BMW's much-lauded turbocharged inline-6. The turbodiesel, also an inline-6, generates a monstrous 413 lb-ft of torque yet soundly beats the gasoline-electric ActiveHybrid 5 in fuel economy. In addition to not matching the diesel's fuel economy, the pricier hybrid's 26-mpg city/highway combined rating is only two better than a 535i and its highway rating is less. At the top is a 4.4-liter turbo V8 that motivates the 550i and M5 models. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is the standard format, but all-wheel drive (AWD) is available on most models. If you're among the minority who crave a manual transmission, the M5 is where it's at.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (528i)
240 horsepower @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/34 mpg (RWD), 22/33 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (535i, 535i GT)
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm (535i), 5,800-6,400 rpm (535i GT)
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/31 (automatic, RWD), 20/29 (automatic, AWD), 19/28 mpg (GT, RWD), 18/26 mpg (GT, AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 hybrid (ActiveHybrid 5)
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,400 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel (535d)
255 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
413 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/38 mpg (RWD), 26/37 mpg (AWD)
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (550i, 550i GT)
445 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
480 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (RWD), 16/25 mpg (AWD), 16/25 mpg (RWD, GT), 16/24 mpg (AWD, GT)
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (M5)
560 horsepower @ 6,000-7,000 rpm
500 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (manual), 14/20 mpg (automatic)
The BMW 5 Series has long been the benchmark for midsize luxury sports sedans. It maintains the performance cred earned over the decades, yet now offers so much more. The 2015 BMW 5 Series is available in a dizzying variety of versions, from a $50,000 base model with a 4-cylinder engine to the fire-breathing M5 costing nearly twice that much. In between are diesel and hybrid variants, and even the Gran Turismo 5-door hatchback, whose SUV-like practicality somewhat alleviates its awkward looks. As the 5 Series lineup has expanded, so has a list of rivals that includes the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Lexus GS. Amid the stiff competition, the 5 Series remains a standout with its blend of performance, technology and brand cachet.