Conservative exterior, handsome interior. We’re so used to BMW’s look that it seems downright conservative in a segment now dominated by more expressive designs. Happily, the 2020 BMW 5-Series hasn’t adopted the oversized grille found on the marque’s largest models, but the twin-kidney layout is reassuringly familiar and attractive.

As for the rest of the canvas, the 5-Series avoids the deep cutouts, wavy lines, and tapered trunks of some models (here’s looking at you, Mercedes-Benz E-Class). Instead, the look is predictable with its clean lines and stable beltline. Move up the trim range, and this sedan takes on a wilder look with its larger wheels and pronounced flares, especially with the M5 models.

Inside, the cabin is spacious, bright, and comfortable. It seats the five people BMW says its holds, offering just a modest step down in room from the range-topping 7-Series. The interior cascades toward the middle, while the dashboard is tech-centered, but not overwrought. A zen-like calm fills the cabin, with clean, natural surfaces dominant.

Wide powertrain selection. Including the separately marketed M5 models, BMW offers four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engine options with the 5-Series.

The base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine powering the 530i generates 248 horsepower. It’s a capable powertrain, offering a wonderful combination of power and efficiency. Indeed, its EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon combined is excellent for the segment.

Buyers can also choose a hybrid version of the same engine with the 530e. This plug-in hybrid offers 21 miles of electric range and 252 hp. Importantly, it's priced the same as the 530i and is available with tax incentives.

The 540i gets a 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder with 335 hp, while the M550i and M5 feature a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. The V8 gets 523 hp (M550i), 600 hp (M5), or 617 hp (M5 Competition).

BMW 5-Series

Safety is a core value. Kudos to BMW for producing a sedan that gets high marks in all things safety. When equipped with the available Lighting Package ($1,050), the 5-Series is an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, its highest designation.

Automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring are standard across the lineup. An optional advanced driver-assist system includes steering, braking, and accelerating assist with minimal driver input at moderate speeds on divided highways. It supplies a taste of semi-autonomous driving, although your hands must remain on the steering wheel at all times.

Big price differences. The base BMW 530i and 530e start at $54,895, a reasonable price point for a midsize luxury sedan. Add another $2,300 for all-wheel drive; it's worth it and gives it a handling edge.

The 540i is priced from $60,445, an increase of $5,550 over the base price. Besides a more powerful engine, the 540i has leather upholstery, an improvement over the synthetic leather in the 530i.

The cost differences, though, go beyond the basic offerings. BMW offers a long list of design, tech, and safety features within packages that easily add thousands of dollars to your cost. Well equipped, a 540i can easily run about $70,000.

Final thoughts. It’s unfortunate that convertibles and crossovers get more attention than sedans these days. The 2020 BMW 5-Series has much to offer and is a strong competitor to Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Audi A6, and Lexus GS.

We think the hybrid is worth serious consideration, as it delivers an excellent combination of power and efficiency. Federal and state tax incentives increase the value proposition accordingly.

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