Used 1999 BMW 5 Series Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

New 528i and 540i sport wagons debut, all 5 Series models achieve low emission vehicle (LEV) status, and consumers will find extensive new standard and optional equipment on the cars.

Vehicle overview

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 5-Series is no exception. Available in two flavors, 528i or 540i, drivers can choose a sedan bodystyle or new sport wagon. 528i models are powered by a 2.8-liter inline engine that provides excellent midrange torque and makes 193 horsepower, up from 190 last year. The 528i comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and is also available with a sophisticated four-speed automatic. Equipped with BMW's Adaptive Transmission Control, the four-speed tracks the driver's driving style and road conditions, allowing the shift timing to adjust accordingly. This year, both cars receive car and key memory as standard equipment, Dynamic Stability Control (DCSIII) as an option, and a revised Sports Package option, which offers 17-inch alloy wheels, high performance tires, a sport suspension, M-sport steering wheel and shadowline blackout exterior trim.

Under the hoods of the 540i sedans and sport wagons sit 4.4-liter, 32-valve V8s that offer zero-to-sixty times in the low sixes, make 282 horsepower and can be mated to five-speed Steptronic automatic transmissions. The 540i sedan continues to be available with a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission while the new 540i sport wagon comes with the Steptronic tranny standard. Other standard equipment includes rear self-leveling suspension, car and key memory, roof rails, retractable luggage net and Dynamic Stability Control. All 540s get new radial style alloy wheels and high performance tires for 1999, as well as new option packages to choose from. If you love to drive, opt for the six-speed manual 540i and prepare yourself for an invigorating ride. The suspension is pleasantly firm on this lively model, but the transmission is hard to operate smoothly.

As one would expect in a top-end, luxury/sport vehicle, equipment levels are first rate. Safety equipment includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, nine-mph bumpers, dual airbags, side-impact airbags, optional rear passenger side-impact 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 drive-away 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 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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.