Used 1997 BMW 5 Series

1997 BMW 5 Series
List price range
1997 BMW 5 Series


  • So, you want fun, beauty, and speed, but can't get a hold of your favorite supermodel? Well, this BMW just might fit the bill. A gorgeous new shape, wonderully redesigned engine, and superbly balanced chassis guarantees that you'll be spending plenty of time at the wheel.


  • This is pretty hard. I guess we wish that a CD player was standard.
BMW 5 Series years

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

It's finally here, the new BMW 5-Series. After months of waiting, BMW enthusiasts can shell out between $40,000 and $50,000 for the latest Ultimate Driving Machine. If we had the money, we would too.

There is so much new about the 1997 5-Series that it is difficult to know where to begin. The most noticeable change to passersby is the exterior, so let's start there. The overall 5-Series package remains taut and streamlined. Noticeable changes on the 1997 model include a lengthening of the hood, a shortening of the trunk and covered headlights. Perhaps the most dramatic difference is the 5-Series' new nose; the double-kidney grille is rounder than before and is now integrated into the hood. Initially our staff had a mixed reaction to the car's new appearance, but we find ourselves liking its cleaner shape and uncluttered design more and more each day. The significance of the new body, however, is not it its appearance, but rather its function. The engineers from Bavaria have created an amazingly rigid, quiet design. Even better, the '97's new sheetmetal weighs only 20 pounds more than its predecessor's while being 40 percent stiffer and 83 percent more energyabsorbent. What does this all mean for the buyer of the new 5-Series? An incredibly quiet, smooth ride, and an amazing degree of protection in the event of a crash. Hmmm, and we just thought it looked nice.

BMWs are famous for the suppleness of their ride and the responsiveness of their steering; firmness without harshness is the phrase most often bandied about our offices when discussing these cars' uncanny ability to stay connected to the road while communicating almost telepathically with the driver. The new 5-Series is no exception. Breakthrough, all-aluminum suspensions on both models reduce the vehicles' unsprung weight by 46 pounds; better allowing these cars to respond to irregularities in the road. Variable-ratio, variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering, borrowed from the M3, finds its way into the 528i. The variable-ratio steering results in a ratio that increases exponentially as the wheel is moved towards the locks; thus allowing safe, effortless high-speed correction and easy low-speed maneuvering. The 540i continues with recirculating ball, variable-assist power steering; similar to that found on the 7-Series.

The biggest news for the 5-series, of course, is found under the hood. The entry-level 5-Series gets an increased displacement, inline six-cylinder engine that really improves midrange torque. The 540i gets a more powerful 4.4-liter V8 that offers zero to 60 times in the low-sixes. The 528i is available with the five-speed manual transmission of its predecessor, suitably beefed up to handle the increased torque, but the four-speed automatic shows considerable change. Equipped with BMW's Adaptive Transmission Control, the new four-speed tracks the driver's driving style and road conditions; allowing the shift-timing to adjust accordingly. 540i models continue to be available with a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Opt for the six-speed manual and prepare yourself for an invigorating ride; the suspension is firmed up noticeably on this lively model.

As one would expect in a top-end, luxury-sports sedan, equipment levels are first rate. Safety equipment includes: four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, nine-mph bumpers, dual airbags, standard side-impact airbags (vehicles meet the 1997 US government-mandated side-impact standards without the side airbags), three-point seatbelts at all seating positions, impact sensors that unlock the doors and activate the hazard lights in the event of a serious accident, remote keyless entry, two-step unlocking, coded driveaway protection, and a vehicle security system. To list all of the 5-Series' luxury features would take more space than we have; a few of the more noticeable ones are: automatic climate controls, power moonroof, 200-watt stereo, 10-way power front seats with power headrests, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, and a right-hand outside mirror that tilts down when the car is in reverse to help drivers see curbs when parallel parking.

Yes indeed, the new 5-Series is a wonderful car. Given all of the inquiries we receive about it, you apparently think so too. If you can afford to buy one, we recommend that you do. Sure there are other great cars out there in this price range; we just think that this one's the best. Good luck, safe driving, have fun; we're sure you'll love it.

1997 Highlights

The 5 Series is redesigned and introduced midway through 1996 as a 1997 model. The Touring wagons are no longer available, and the 3.0-liter V8 is history. New 5 Series models can be had as a six-cylinder 528i or a V8 540i. Both models feature new engines, all-aluminum suspensions, improved brakes and available side-impact airbag protection.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 BMW 5 Series.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great car
Paul the Preacher,03/31/2010
I purchased this car used July 2007 with 150,000 miles. I love this car. The previous owner took good care of it. It's like new on the inside. If gas was cheaper I would have a million miles on it. I only have 181,000 mile. It is a joy to drive. I've only had minor issues with it, and they all are covered in other reviews. cup holder, battery dies, tie rod, and alarm system a little crazy. I will purchase at least 2 more.
Executive Experss
I've had the bimmer for a couple of years now, and it still thrills in the curves, coddles on the highway, and being all black, with tinted windows, with the 17" sport wheels, still turns heads. I perfer the looks of this 5 to the new one, but given that the 3 series started to look very much like the 5 it does make it look like you see it all over the place. Engine reliability has been good, but I've been let down by the little, but expensive things... $400 rear window motor and attachments... Air pump, niggly electrical issues, battery, and ball joints that wearout too quickly for a high end car. But, overall, I buy another one in a minute! And that's the best review anyone can give a car.
Future Classic
Farhan haque,11/28/2008
it is a well know fact that E39 (97- 02) is among the best BMWs. For its size, it has matchless handling. few cars of this era has heated steering. All controls inside are intuitive. Exterior is matchless and even now it does not look dated, in fact is still a head turner. You hear the bump but you dont feel it, suspension is so good. Compared to its competitors, E class or Lexus GS, it's sportier and should be the choice of a car enthusiast.
The Ultimate Nightmare
1997 BMW 540I 6speed The car is fun to drive when it works. In 44000 miles the car has been flat bedded back to the dealership three times. The car has been back to the dealership five times in the last nine months for repairs to the cooling system. The car is leaking oil from the engine. BMW tells me there is nothing wrong with the car. The bottom line is they just don't care. This is definitely my last BMW.
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Features & Specs

18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
190 hp @ 5300 rpm
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 0
282 hp @ 5700 rpm
See all Used 1997 BMW 5 Series features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 BMW 5 Series
Used 1997 BMW 5 Series Overview

The Used 1997 BMW 5 Series is offered in the following submodels: 5 Series Sedan. Available styles include 528i 4dr Sedan, and 540i 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 BMW 5 Series?

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Can't find a used 1997 BMW 5 Seriess you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW 5 Series for sale - 4 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $15,028.

Find a used BMW for sale - 2 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $13,497.

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Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 9 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $16,732.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 BMW 5 Series?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW 5 Series lease specials