Sharper looks. The 2021 BMW 5-Series gets a slight makeover. Last year, the midsize sedan had a design that was more mundane than its competitors. That changes for the new model year, as the 5-Series now looks more angular, more assertive, and matches many rivals.
From the front, the 5-Series now has a more angular face thanks to sharp headlights, a larger version of BMW’s kidney grilles, and more defined lines on the front fascia. Things aren’t that different at the back, but the 2021 model gets updated taillights and new exhaust outlets that remain the same regardless of powertrain.
Small changes, but the 5-Series now looks sportier than before, which is a good thing as it’s more attractive than some of its portlier competitors.
Oozing with technology.BMW has bolstered the 5-Series’ list of standard tech features to now include two 12.3-inch digital screens. One acts as an instrument cluster, while the other is a central display that’s running BMW’s latest iDrive 7.0 infotainment system. In addition to being one of the larger standard touchscreens on the market, BMW's system is intuitive to use thanks to natural voice commands, a rotary knob, gesture controls, and touch controls.
On top of coming with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Apple users can use the company’s Digital Key with compatible iPhones. The Digital Key allows 5-Series owners to open, unlock, and start the vehicle with their iPhone. The 2021 5-Series is the first vehicle to have Apple’s Digital Key.
Beyond the fancy screens, the new 5-Series also comes with a variety of standard safety features. Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and pedestrian detection are all standard.
Active Protection System, which prepares the vehicle if it senses an impending collision, is also standard. Of course, BMW offers a variety of optional safety features that include parallel park assist, a night vision camera, and a surround-view camera.
Wide selection of powertrains. There are five available powertrains with the 5-Series that range from an adequate amount of oomph to insanely powerful. With so many choices, there’s a good chance that there’s a perfect powertrain in the lineup for you.
The base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is rated at 248 horsepower, which may not sound like a lot, but it’s plenty peppy with a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds with all-wheel drive. The 530e plug-in hybrid trim adds an electric motor and a 12-kWh battery pack for a combined output of 288 hp. More importantly, the PHEV can travel 20 miles on electricity alone. That figure certainly isn’t worth the $3,000 upcharge over the base trim, but for consumers that live in urban areas, it’s worth checking out.
The 540i packs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that’s good for 335 hp. The 540i now comes with a mild-hybrid system for 2021 that boosts fuel economy and improves performance, too. For even more performance, there’s the M550i, which features a 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. While 523 hp would be enough for the majority of people, BMW also offers the M5. It comes with the same 4.4-liter V8, but is rated at 600 hp.
Spacious, comfortable cabin. While the updated BMW 5-Series has grown 1.2 inches in overall length, its wheelbase has remained the same at 117 inches. That means the 5-Series continues to offer a spacious cabin with all-day comfort.
For the starting price, one would expect to see leather upholstery as standard, but that’s not the case. The 5-Series comes with BMW’s synthetic leather upholstery. Thankfully, it looks and feels nice and the front seats offer 16 different adjustments.
If it were up to us, we’d go with leather upholstery for an extra $1,500 or Nappa leather upholstery for $2,500 more. Additionally, the available Luxury Seating Package ($1,000) ups the 5-Series’ opulent feel with multi-contour seats with 20 different adjustments. Ventilated front seats are also offered with the package. Massaging seats are available for an extra $1,000 as a standalone option.
Final thoughts. With the changes, the 2021 BMW 5-Series is a better competitor to vehicles like the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Lexus ES. It’s got more standard tech than the majority of midsize sedans in the class and no longer has boring styling. Consumers will find plenty of interior space, as well as one of the more robust powertrain lineups in the class.
The BMW 5-Series continues to impress in ways few others can. Our main gripes with the sedan are mostly about cost. With a starting price tag of $55,195 including destination, the sedan seems to get more and more expensive every year. The options are also pricey.
If you’re looking for a truly luxurious experience, the Mercedes E-Class is the leader in the segment. It comes with more powerful engines, an even more opulent cabin, and similar standard tech features. The Audi A6 isn’t as sporty as the 5-Series and it doesn’t come with the same amount of technology, but it’s a comfortable, upscale sedan with gutsy engines.
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