I love and hate this car. the signalers still drive me nuts, there is no temperature gauge, cabin storage, can't set the radio because of the stupid I-Drive, cup holders from Hell, can't see the speedometer through the steering wheel, Setting the climate control is almost impossible (I-Drive again), Nothing about the controls is intuitive (I previously drove an Infiniti, which practically drove itself). That said, I have never driven a car that handles anywhere as well as this BMW 530i. Just give me an open road, a Valentine 1 radar detector and I am a very happy boy. I have owned this car for over 4 years and have no plans to trade or sell it. I hope to put another 100,000 miles on it!
I purchased my 2004 BMW 525 used with 28K miles in 2010 to be used as my commuter car. I can not stand the iDrive that BMW uses in this model year. The cup holders are officially the 10th level of hell. Tires and brakes are three times as expensive as a "normal" sedan. Repairs, though few and far between so far, are costly.
Every few months I will shop around hoping to replace it, refusing to look at another BMW. Every couple of months I go test drive another round of models and makes that I cant bring myself to buy. I love my BMW! Nothing handles like it. Nothing performs like it! Nothing captivates the true essence of the drive like a BMW! Until i can find something better...
Felt compelled to add my review since it is positive and most people complain. This is my 4th BMW (3rd 5 series). All have been manual. This is another great sedan. Has been very reliable. 3 years and 25k miles. Have only had to replace a coolant sensor (cheap/easy fix). The car gets amazing HWY MPG (34ish) City 20ish. Accelerates and handles amazing. RWD, and have been caught in a few CO snow storms, and got me home. It's also a very safe car. About the only cons, is the I-drive has scared me a few times where it did not turn on, then all of a sudden turned on. But as far as mechanically, another excellent BMW sedan.
4-15-16: Still own this car. Still love this car. Still recommend the manual.
I owned a 2004 530i that I purchased in 2013 for a year and six months and 20,000 miles. In those 20,000 miles the vehicle needed more than $5,000 in maintenance and repair items, and this was a clean 1 owner example that had been meticulously maintained. It needed 4 new brake pads and rotors for $2200, 4 new tires for $1200, all new PCV hoses for $850, Spark Plugs for $300, transmission fluid and filter exchange for $900, water pump and coolant for $75 (DIY), $200 for a sunroof leak and the subwoofer it took out (DIY), and $300 in oil and filter changes. I cringe when I think about how much I spent on this car, only to have it totaled in a flood. However, it was the most solid driving, comfortable and beautiful car I have ever owned. All of the features it had worked from the heated steering wheel, to the complex iDrive system, even after 11 years and 120,000 miles. The engine still purred like a kitten, could bounce off the rev limiter, and the car would still hit 155mph and pull 0.90g in the bends just like when it was new. It never broke down, nor had any problems. All of the items listed above are either wear items, or were replaced preventatively. I can't imagine owning another BMW of this age, as the rubbers and plastics used simply don't hold up over time, however I'd definitely consider owning another newer one. This car is not for the faint of heart, and if you just need a cheap luxury car to drive everyday, I'd go for a Lexus. On the other hand, if you like to work on cars yourself, or want a fun daily driver and are willing to pay for it, the BMW is the best you'll find.
I remember hearing the words "the ultimate driving experience" and I can tell you that my 2004 530i bought in 2007 with 19,138 miles on it has been the best vehicle I have ever owned....hands down! I have had no problems with this car and it drives effortlessly. Great gas mileage and fun to drive at high speeds.