2003 BMW 5 Series Review | Edmunds.com

2003 BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 Series Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 184 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2003 BMW 5 Series

  • Upcoming redesign notwithstanding, the 5 Series is an excellent midsize luxury car, whether you choose the high-performance 540i or a comparatively basic 525i wagon. If you can afford one, we'd highly recommend it.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Thrilling to drive, superb ride quality, upscale interiors, wide range of trim levels, clean exterior styling.

  • Cons

    Some confusing interior controls, demanding manual transmission, high-end models are pricey.

  • What's New for 2003

    This is your last chance to get a traditionally styled 5 Series -- next year, its styling becomes more closely aligned with the…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (215 total reviews)

13 of 21 people found this review helpful

Transmission problem

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 530i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)

Once the 6 year 100k miles warranty is gone, surprises! Maintenance very expensive and for those equipped with lifetime ZF HP19 transmission you'll be lucky if it last past 100K mark. Especially in New England weather.

A fine sedan

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 540i 4dr Sedan (4.4L 8cyl 5A)

After seeing and driving the 2004 E60 5 Series, I immediately leased the last 2003 E39 540i at my dealer. At the end of the lease, I still didn't find a better car, so bought the car from the leasing company! Now after 7 years and 76,000 miles this car continues to impress. I've been fortunate to own many high end cars, but the E39 540i has been one of the best. It has pleasing styling, a comfortable, stylish interior and great ride/handling balance. Mine has had some reliability issues: door locks, power seat cables, and radiator, all covered under warranty or extended warranty. I know this can be an expensive car to fix as it ages and I should replace is soon, but with what?

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Got to love it!

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 525i 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)

I read some reviews that talk of the cup holders and other issues. We bought our 2003 525i and simply love it. The thing is on rails but also feels heavy but responsive. The weight is good for absorbing road imperfections. Just feels solid. Performance is nice, just need to hit the sport tronic trans at right rpm range. This car looks better than the newer model and BMW has changed it back to the E39 style with a more squat body. I had to change the alternator, but like our broken cup holder, alternator, and brakes, all of which I changed myself with the Bentley E39 Service Manual and the write tools and she is as tight as, well tight feels good. We Just Love Her, Silvia, because it's silver.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

They don't make them like

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 530i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)

Purchased from a private party with 25K on the odometer. Currently have about 99.4K miles on it. This has been far the most reliable car we've ever owned - Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Mazda. When you do basic maintenance yourself, ownership costs are somewhat comparable to many other brands. Just have to keep an eye out on the cooling system, heard that this was/is the weakest part of the E39's (so far no problems with mine). Average MPG during summer months: 24-27

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Great car, if you ignore

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 525i 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)

I love the handling, the ride, & the fuel efficiency. The engine power is only slightly lacking. However, a car must also be reliable. This car requires repairs every 8 to 12 weeks (seriously). Thank god for the extended warranty. I fear the day the extended warranty expires & I still owe monthly payments. I love this car&hate its ongoing issues: new radiator; new plastic radiator reservoir; washer fluid pump failure (3 times); pcv valve failure ($700 to repair) & my personal favorite is when the seat warmer caught fire. The car is awesome to drive and looks like poetry in motion but my 30 year old Ford truck has been more reliable. German efficiency does not seem to include reliability

My bimmer

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Vehicle: 2003 BMW 5 Series 525i 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)

Original owner. Not as quick as my old 325 but still good. 30+mpg on trip on reg or mid grade. A good car with little trouble past the warranty except for display digits dying which was fixed gratis by dealer. OEM Pirelli tires were noisy from get go and after several attempts of balance and rotation I ditched them for Michelin Exalto All Season and have been happy ever since. Dealer again shared the pain with free install and alignment as comp for OEM cheapies.

Gas Mileage


  • 18
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 BMW 5 Series Review

What's New for 2003

This is your last chance to get a traditionally styled 5 Series -- next year, its styling becomes more closely aligned with the controversial 7 Series. For now, BMW will offer a DVD-based navigation system for the existing 5 Series -- but alas, you must still give up an in-dash CD player if you opt for the nav system. Besides that, rear head protection airbags (optional last year) are now standard across the line. Additionally, all six-cylinder models get a standard moonroof. Standard on the manual-shift 540i (and optional with the automatic) is a new sport package that includes 18-inch wheels, a revised sport suspension, front and rear spoilers, visible exhaust outlets, black side molding, a black headliner, titanium-ringed gauges and an M footrest for the driver. Finally, the 525i gets a new alloy wheel design, and its premium package now includes rain-sensing wipers.

Talk About The 2003 5 Series