The BMW 5-Series is a quintessential German luxury sedan, offering buyers the ability to blend flavors of serene comfort and hardcore performance to best suit their tastes. Because most of the available options for the 5-Series can be accessed at any trim, the discerning buyer can get exactly the car they need without having to pay for anything they don't. Want something sporty? Choose the V8-powered M550i. Don't care about performance, but want comfortable luxury? The 530i will suit your needs. Want to save fuel? You're in luck, because BMW now offers that too, with the 530e plug-in hybrid and 540d diesel.
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2018 BMW 5-Series Overview
What's New for 2018
Following in the footsteps of the major redesign last year, the 2018 5-Series now offers a new blend of packages and options, along with three brand new models: the 530e plug-in hybrid, 540d diesel, and the M550i, a sort of decaf version of the monstrous M5 (listed separately).
Choosing Your BMW 5-Series
The first step in deciding what BMW 5-Series variant will best fit your needs is figuring out what engine you want, as trims are separated by engine choice.
The base level 530i receives a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces a reasonable 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, while managing a combined fuel economy rating of 27 mpg, respectable for a sedan of its size. The 540i increases the power to 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque through the use of a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six, which returns a combined 24 mpg. If that's not enough, more power is available with the M550i, which is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that puts out 456 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, making it capable of incredible sub-four-second sprints to 60 mph. Fuel economy is predictably worse than the other options, with the M550i achieving a rating of only 19 mpg combined.
If you're looking for something completely different, BMW is now offering the 530e with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The 530e features the same 2.0-liter turbo four from the 530i but tuned for efficiency. It only makes 180 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque in this guise, but it's combined with an electric motor that adds 95 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque for a net output of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft. The real benefit is fuel economy though; the 530e can manage 72 MPGe combined and can travel up to 27 miles on battery power alone.
If you'd like to save gas but refuse to sacrifice power, BMW has you covered with the 540d diesel-powered model. The 540d features a 3.0-liter straight six turbodiesel with 265 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, all while returning 26 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and a combined rating of 30 mpg.
All 5-Series models feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system is available as a $2,300 option over rear-wheel drive everywhere except for the M550i and 540d, where it comes standard. Keep in mind that the extra weight of the all-wheel-drive system typically results in a penalty of one mpg over rear-drive-equipped models, but the increased traction can also help the big sedan get off the line a few tenths of a second faster while improving its abilities in inclement conditions.
Option and packages for the 5-Series are extensive and can add up quickly, but many options remain constant across all trim levels. Regardless, configuring a 5-Series can be a bit confusing, so it's highly recommended that buyers spend some time with the online configurator to figure out exactly what is available at each trim level.
Most 5-Series models come in a choice of three design packages, which can be thought of as sub-trims. The base package is the Sport Line Design, which gives the 5-Series an athletic appearance fit for a performance machine. The next level is the Luxury Design, which adds a unique leather upholstery and chrome design accents for a $1,450 premium on the 530i and 530e but is a no-cost option on the 540i and 540d. The top design package is the M Sport Design which is a $4,500 premium on all models except for the M550i, and gives the 5-Series a leather dashboard and a more aggressive demeanor like the M Division cars it’s inspired by.
After choosing a design level, buyers are given a choice of two features tiers, which are essentially overarching options packages for the whole line. You can choose the $2,300 Premium Tier, which adds heated seats, satellite radio, keyless entry, a power tailgate and gesture control, or the $4,400 Executive Tier that adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, parking assistance features, soft-close doors, and a digital dashboard, along with all of the features from the Premium Tier. Equipping the Executive Tier also requires you to get the $1,500 Driver Assistance Package that includes a heads-up display, blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and various collision and lane departure warnings (also available as an option with other tiers). Also keep in mind that the M Sport Design package includes all features of the Premium Tier package as standard, which can make it a pretty good value.
The M550i is a bargain compared to the more expensive M5, offering about 70 percent of the performance for $30,000 less and we should all do our part in saving the V8. That being said, most 5-Series shoppers would do just fine with a smartly-optioned 540i. You'll get the most for your money by sticking with the base-level Sport Line design trim while springing for the Executive Tier option package. The Dynamic Handling Package is also compelling, as it allows for both sporty and comfortable suspension settings, depending on your mood. Finish it off with the 20-way adjustable multi-contour seats to make the 540i the perfect blend of luxurious comfort and performance for less than $70,000.
2018 BMW 5-Series Review
If you're shopping for a mid-size luxury sedan, the BMW 5-Series should be on your list. This handsome model offers great powertrain choices, agile steering, responsive handling, and cutting-edge technology. We're just left aghast at how expensive this sedan can become.
The 2018 BMW 5-Series is a mid-size luxury sedan with room for five. It comes with standard rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. BMW offers gas, diesel, and hybrid powertrain choices along with extensive ways to build yours.
BMW requires shoppers to choose one of three designs when they begin their build. The Sport Line and Luxury designs are priced the same, while the M Sport design adds $4,500 to the price. From there, BMW requires customers to choose a trim tier: Base, Premium, or Executive. The Premium tier adds $2,300, the Executive tier adds $4,400.
- Model: 2018 BMW 540i
- Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder
- Output: 335 hp / 332 lb-ft
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
- MPG: 21 City / 30 Hwy
- Options: Luxury Design ($0, chrome design accents), Executive Tier ($4,400, adaptive full LED headlights, automatic high beams, self-close automatic doors, parking assist, active park distance control, surround-view monitor, dynamic digital instrument cluster), Driving Assistance Package ($1,700, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, city collision mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert). Apple CarPlay Compatibility ($300).
- Base Price: $59,195 (including a $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $65,595
The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine found in 530i models offers sufficient power, but our preferred choice is the turbocharged six-cylinder. It's a good replacement for the previous V8, with an output of 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. BMW pairs this engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Sorry, there's no stick shift to be had anywhere with the 5-Series.
The six-cylinder-equipped 5-Series is fast, making the run up to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds. The steering set up is generally very good and the feedback is what we expect. Most buyers will enjoy how well balanced this sedan is. We would only consider all-wheel drive for customers living where wintry conditions are a factor.
We're happy that, even as BMW makes the necessary time passage changes to its models, the 5-Series doesn't lose its swagger. The automaker manages to make changes without losing the overall flavor. After all, what would any BMW be without its pronounced twin kidney grilles? Sharper lines are clearly evident with this generation model, but the theme remains reassuring and handsome.
BMW’s craftsmanship is evident throughout the interior, with high-end materials, exquisitely sculpted surfaces, soothing colors, and relaxing lights setting the mood. The cabin is visually pleasing with beautiful leather upholstery, brushed aluminum, or fine woods present. The seats are firm yet comfortable and are designed to allow the driver to enjoy long drives with minimal fatigue.
The tech center is tastefully displaced and reflects the latest and greatest that BMW has to offer. The center console is bigger than ever and the digital instrument panel is sublime tech extraordinaire.
The Best and Worst Things
The 2018 5-Series is a tech machine on wheels. At least it seems that way. You'll find a big digital instrument panel and an even larger center console display. Of course, we're also fans of the BMW’s iDrive system.
The bad news is that BMW pricing can get outrageously expensive. Even though we opted for it, the $300 Apple CarPlay upgrade is a cost BMW should bear, not the customer.
Right For? Wrong For?
Anyone shopping for a mid-size luxury sedan will want to compare competition to the 5-Series. It offers the right measuring stick by which to judge all comers. On the other hand, BMW faithful will soon realize that this isn't the same 5-Series as before. There are so many tech features present that make it seem like a wholly different animal.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 BMW 5-Series is one of the best luxury cars you can buy. But the price point can become terribly expensive, depending on the design, tier, powertrain, and package options. For these reasons, people are more apt to lease than buy in an effort to get the amenities they want for an affordable monthly payment.
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