Purchased CPO in 2001. Only had a few problems in my 9.5 years. Performance and build quality is unbeatable. Just sold the car as maintenance is getting expensive on a 12 year old BMW. My all in cost to drive the car (including repairs but excluding routine maintenance) was less than $3,600 per year. With a set of snow tires this car did great in the snow. Car was expensive upfront but more than worth it over time. I miss this car already. I only wish the new 535 wagon wasn't plagued with problems or I would not hesitate to buy another.
E39 doesn't age well. The cooling system is sure to fail by 100K - radiator, water pump and more. Front end likely shot by that mileage. Rear end suspension too. All kinds of leaks, power steering, transmission hoses. All the vacuum tubes get extremely brittle and disintegrate when you touch them. The VANOS system is likely shot by that mileage, decreasing MPG and power. Automatic tranny replaced at 80K Basically just ridiculous how such an expensive car can have reliability of a 1980's Ford. It's a true FORD car, Fix-Or-Repair-Daily.
Cabin ergonomics Silent engine quiet cabin station wagon Handling Heater/AC very strong I6 engine with manual tranny
Improve reliability. E39 is far below domestics or Japanese imports. It's a very heavy-maintenance machine.
Bought a 4 year lease return from a used car dealer with slightly over 40,000 miles. Have driven it to 80,000 miles after 3 years and had no problems except some minor cosmetic details (e.g. cup holders, door sill trim, door rubber moldings). From a mechanical point of view, had to just do my yearly synthetic oil change at the BMW dealer and put in gas. I've driven slightly over a couple parking stops and pulled away the front valences slightly. If you want a reliable, fun to drive car (not truck) with capacity for five and rear cargo for Home Depot, Costco or Ikea runs, this is a great car to consider. From my recollection, it is top of class (E39) for many years running.
Design - timeless and will be a classic. Ride/ handling - the perfect 50/50 balance and "German" ride qualities. I've avoided a couple sure accidents with the sure stability, braking and reponsiveness of the anti-lock brake, anti-skid, stability control. I was amazed I didn't ram the car ahead.
Trim - plastic cup holders, door sill, better placement of the rubber door seals, because I always rub upon entering/leaving the car. repeated wear causes them to wear away. Common to replace the cheap cup holders in front and back. Thankfully, they are cheap and easy to get from the BMW dealer.
Purchased lease return at 43,000 miles from a used car dealership. The former owner was a middle aged lady, one owner. The car was basically just broken in. Have had car going on three years now and not a single problem except accidentally parking over a park stop and minor damage to the front air dam. Otherwise, absolutely a gem. The 17" BBS Cross-Spokes can be noisy, but the Bridgestone Turanza tires made it smooth as a Lexus, yet much sportier. The rim guards have prevented a couple rim rashes too. I'm veering off, sound off for the tires now. Anyways, I highly recommend this car, this years build to anyone considering.
I've been an enthusiast to the styling, which is very clean lines and engineering focused design. The car is designed around a foundation that is refined and perfected. The wagon is a rarity stateside.
For these cars the standard cup holders are cheap plastic and break. Over time the front drivers side door rubber seal can wear out from repeated abrasions getting in/out of car. As mentioned above good tires on the upgraded wheel package, like Bridgestone Turanza.