2003 BMW 5 Series Review | Edmunds.com

2003 BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 Series Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.4 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 290 hp @ 5400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/22 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 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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (39 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


A fine sedan

by on
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?



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Excellent power train but bad

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

This is an excellent piece of machine especially if you like its aggressive and bossy exterior look. However, given the power train and the handling are excellent, there are just too many little problems that constantly haunt you. For example, weak cup holder (I replaced it twice), flimsy exterior thermostat (replaced twice), unreliable cooling system.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

540i m-sport (where do i

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

Experiencing the performance of this car is simply amazing. This car does everything so well (acceleration, handling, comfort and luxury) all while looking so classy. I expect I will be hard pressed to find something to replace it any where close to the 61K I paid for it. The M-Sports package does some pretty remarkable things to this car. I definitely love the edgy, aggressive look of this car as compared to the E60. So, far I have had a few repairs which can add up at the dealership but I honestly think taking very good care of this car is so worth it. If they sold this exact car new, I would buy it again - it's that good. I would highly recommend it if you can find one.




Awesome fast sporty sedan

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

I bought my 540iA new before the body style changed and I'm glad i did. I tested the 6 speed manual first but the sales rep convinced me to buy the automatic with manu-matic shift. The car is fast yet unassuming. My 540iA came with the M5 sports package complete with M5 steering wheel, suspension/brakes and front/rear spoilers. I was shopping for an M3 as I was already driving a 1998 528E but the M3 was too small - am so glad I made the right decision. I would recommend the 540ia to any sports, luxury and German car enthusiast.




Love my bmw

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

Best car ever build. Combination of 5 passenger seating, room for golf clubs and best of all - sports car!




2003 540i 6spd sport

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

Purchased new in Sep 03 after driving 2004 530i (liked the styling, interior, and lack of iDrive of 2003 better). Traded a 2 year old Corvette. 540i only has 85% of the Vette's performance but is 200% more refined. The manual 6 spd was a little notchy for the first few months but was smooth after that. Seat and door seal squeaks were the only quality problems I had and the dealer eventually fixed/replaced them. One dealer frustration was they didn't know why my auto-headlights didn't work after two trips the the shop. I later learned that this feature is disabled when foglights are on! After 5 years I want to buy a new car but just can't find one with better styling or performance.



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

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 16
  • cty
/
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs