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2018 BMW 5-Series

Starting at $53,645

2018 bmw 5 series
Michael Simari|Car and Driver

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  • Highs Choice of powerful turbocharged engines, stylish and luxurious cabin, plenty of the latest tech features.
  • Lows Handling takes a backseat to comfort, hybrid models' electric-only range lags behind rivals, Android Auto not available.
  • Verdict The 2018 BMW 5-series impresses with its lively engines, posh interior, and smooth ride, although enthusiasts might expect better handling from a BMW.


While some of its rivals have worked hard to catch up to BMW’s 5-series in performance and handling, BMW seems to have switched gears and taken a more luxury-oriented approach with its mid-size sedan. What was once a driver’s delight is now more of a boulevard cruiser—one with a posh interior, plenty of people and cargo space, and a range of efficient and strong-performing engines. When the M550i performance model was introduced for 2018, we were hopeful that the Ultimate Driving Machine was returning to the BMW showroom, but it too suffers from a mixed bag of dynamic traits.

What's New for 2018?

There are three new 5-series models for 2018, and they stand at very different points in the performance and fuel-economy spectrums. The plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance offers up to 16 miles of electric-only range, the diesel-powered 540d xDrive boasts an EPA highway fuel-economy rating of 36 mpg, and the mighty M550i xDrive drops some muscle into the lineup via a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine. Base 530i models and the new 530e can now be equipped with the Dynamic Handling package, which includes adaptive suspension and upgraded brakes; this package also bundles active steering rather than having it as a stand-alone option. Last year’s Luxury Seating package for 530i and 540i models now includes Nappa leather upholstery, and full Merino leather is now available, as is a gray-colored faux-suede headliner and a leather dashboard.


Original MSRP:

  • 530i: $53,645
  • 530e: $53,645
  • 530i xDrive: $55,945
  • 530e xDrive: $55,945
  • 540i: $59,195
  • 540i xDrive: $61,495
  • 540d xDrive: $62,995
  • M550i xDrive: $74,895

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Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The M in BMW stands for “motor,” and the company’s engine expertise shows in each of the impressive turbocharged powertrains offered in the 5-series. New for 2018 are the plug-in hybrid 530e, the turbo-diesel 540d, and the performance-oriented M550i. The 530e plug-in uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor to produce a total of 248 hp. Unfortunately for BMW, the 530e’s two closest rivals—the Cadillac CT6 plug-in and the Volvo S90 T8—both offer longer electric-only driving ranges, although the Volvo defaults to its gas-electric hybrid mode at highway speeds. The 530e is efficient and reasonably perky, but the driving enthusiast’s focus will be on the M550i xDrive. Smooth, powerful, and efficient, both the four-cylinder in the 530i and the six-cylinder in the 540i motivate this big sedan with authority. Each pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts intuitively and quickly, making the most of the available power. The 540i’s six-cylinder is silky and potent, and it makes a delightful noise to boot. The M550i is the athlete of the 5-series lineup (we review the M5 separately). All-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission. In our hands, the M550i sprinted through our acceleration runs faster than the Audi S6 and the 10Best-award-winning Mercedes-AMG E43. The newest 5-series prioritizes quiet and comfort over excitement and liveliness, which makes sense for a luxury sedan but likely will disappoint enthusiasts seeking the fun-to-drive nature found in BMWs of yore. This BMW is not the nimble corner-carver you might expect. Its soft, plush ride and slow, numb steering conspire to make it more comfortable cruising boulevards than romping over curvy back roads.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Rich appointments and good ergonomics make the 5-series’s cockpit a civilized space—and a noticeable upgrade compared with the somewhat drab cabin of its predecessor. It’s also spacious for rear-seat passengers and features an impressive amount of technology, even for this high-tech segment. The posh interior of the 5-series gets even more luxurious for 2018 with the addition of Nappa leather to the optional Luxury Seating package and available Merino leather via the BMW Individual customization program. We’ve experienced the optional 20-way multi-contour front seats, which adjust in every way imaginable and provide plush comfort for hours on end. The standard seats (which we have not sampled) might not be as sybaritic, but still adjust in 16 ways. Many elements that improve the BMW’s interior ambience are optional, such as the SensaTec (BMW marketing speak for faux leather) dashboard upgrade and various levels of real, cow-derived leather upholstery. At least the crisp-looking digital displays for the gauge cluster, central infotainment screen, and climate controls are standard on all models. The BMW’s large trunk is on par with its competitors, but the cabin is lacking in cubbies and storage compartments. To accommodate the battery pack, the new plug-in hybrid 530e has four less cubic feet of trunk space than the base 530i. Unlike its rivals, however, the 5-series preserves its folding rear seat, which adds more flexibility for buyers.

Infotainment and Connectivity

Although the BMW iDrive system’s capability and configurability seem overwhelming at first, its clear graphics, logical organization, and easy-to-use control knob make it intuitive to navigate. It misses out on a perfect score because essential smartphone-integration features are either optional or not available. A large, 10.2-inch high-resolution central display is standard on every 5-series model and can be controlled by the rotary knob, the touchscreen, or various voice commands. Navigation, a USB port, and Bluetooth streaming audio are standard, although you must pay extra for SiriusXM satellite radio and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Android Auto is not available, and neither is an auxiliary input jack. BMW’s Gesture Control is an unusual option: It allows the driver or passenger to input certain commands with hand gestures, but we found it to be more gimmicky than useful.

Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings

For more information about the BMW 5-series’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.


Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.


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