All in all it's a great car. The performance and ride when in tip top shape is unbeatable for the amount of miles it acquires. The problem is maintaining that tiptop status is unrelenting after 150k. Literally 5k a year in maintenance repairs at least. I'm to the point to where I'm used to riding with at least 1 or 2 alerts constantly telling me to fix something.
2006 BMW 5 Series 530xi 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)
So basically this car is my favorite material possession. AND I am not a car nut. I really like this car. We bought ours used in Colorado for $16K. It had 92,000 miles on it. I had it inspected by a BMW dealership for about $300. They tore through it and found some issues. The electronic cable sleeve between the computer and the transmission. It typically leaks every 100K. It was leaking. The shocks were bad. And the coolant system had a leak. I bought the car after some further negotiations. It was in the shop quickly for a radiator replacement, a lower radiator supply hose, a worn out wheel bearing, shocks, and new tires. That was about $3000. We had about $19k into this car with 105,000 miles on it. Regret started to sink into our minds. But since then the car has just had maintenance visits. I replaced the coil over ignition plugs at 180,000(they lasted 80k more than BMW says they should). I changed the oil every 7k, it does eat 1 qt of oil every 7000 miles. I just deal with that. I put continental contipro contact tires on it. This car powers through corners now. It drives through 12" of snow and heavy rains with NO problems. Folks this car is reliable if you take care of it. The car must go to a great mechanic who knows BMW's. Don't skimp on non-OEM parts. Go to Bavarian autosport for parts if you want to DYI the repairs. The car may the basic 6 buts fast. So fast. Faster than our 2009 BMW X5 with the turbo diesel. I am at 196,000 miles now and I have no intention of selling it. In fact I might just buy another 06-08 BMW 530xi. New technology be damned.
I'm a husband, father, and project manager who traverses all over the metro area from site-to-site, often handling business over the phone in my car. Shortly before our first baby was born, I searched for a car with the following critera: rear-wheel drive, V8 engine, and room for a car seat. At under $20k, that limited my options to a Dodge Charger, Pontiac G8, Mercedes E500. I didn't even test drive the other three. The 550i hit the lot and I took it for one drive and it checked every box I needed (except no fold-down rear seat--damn you original owner ;).
PERFORMANCE: 5 Stars. This care is ridiculously fast. My daily commute averages between 80 and 100 mph, and it completely capable at these speeds. It has the best brakes I've ever felt in a car. You stomp on the pedals and they bring all 4,000 pounds to a quick stop. The active anti-roll bars and active steering are a must for enthusiast driving--do not buy this car without these. However, there is a bit of "play" in the throttle pedal, about a quarter press before I get a response. This is somewhat annoying when rounding a slow corner and trying to throttle out of it--I have to depress the pedal while still turning the corner.
COMFORT: 4 Stars. The seats could be better. I slide around a bit too much on fast corners, and can't quite get the lumbar in the right position on my back. Also, the steering wheel tilt needs a little more motion--I draw it all the way out and all the way down and still need more. With the windows up, the cabin is very quiet. However with the windows down, for some reason I get an unusual amount of wind blowing from outside into the cabin and at my face--way more than any other car. Because of this I just can't cruise at high speed with the windows down.
INTERIOR: 5 stars. The trunk fits my golf clubs AND a stroller. The instrumentation, logic & controls are all very intuitive and in the right place. I think the cupholders are a marvelous innovation--high up and out of the way of your shifting, and can be tucked away when not in use. However, the sunroof glass rattles when closed.
TECHNOLOGY: 5 stars. If you can't figure out iDrive after a week of use, you have problems. After learning it and getting used to control everything with my hand down at my side, I can't stand driving cars that require me to lift my hand up to the dash to press a button--that's how good this is. I already spoke to the driving technology but they deserve another mention: active sway bars & active steering are simply amazing marvels. This car is ten years old and STILL ahead of its time. Bluetooth is very basic. Forget the voice commands. I use Siri to make my calls. But once the call is made, the connection is crystal clear even at 100mph. Like my title says: I handle business all over town feeling like Ari Gold in this car ;)
RELIABILITY: 4 stars. No major drivetrain components failed. However my central Nav computer broke, shutting down all audio, iDrive, navigation, etc. This was a $1,200 fix. Also my trunk release button (on the trunk) stopped working, but I can still open it with the button in the cabin or the key fob. Little things. It DOES burn about a quart of oil every month, but the iDrive is very good at letting me know when to top it off. I do all oil & filter changes by hand in under an hour.
VALUE: 4 Stars. Its amazing how cheap you can buy these cars for, and they have more features and better performance than brand new $30,000 sedans. MPG is very low: 13 city, 17 highway. I don't care though because every mile puts a smile on my face!
This 530i is well designed and the overall reliability is good. Beyond 150K miles, I started having some oil leaks but it's all fixable. Over 150K miles. the original radiator was replaced, a rear window actuator replaced around 60 Kmiles and the regular brakes were replaced front and back every 30 to 40K miles. Spark plugs replaced every 100K miles. DTML pump was replaced around 90K miles. The coolant tank was replaced around 120K miles but this car is solid and performs well month after month. The starter was replaced at 148K miles as well as a front wheel(crack in the metal). The microfilter needs a change every 30K miles and the trunk actuator had to be replaced at 165,000 Miles. It has 179K miles and it's still going strong! I religiously get an oil service every 7,500 miles + visual inspection. The external body still looks great but the car spends its nights in a covered garage. Total maintenance costs(incl. $3,800 100K warranty) = $18.425(incl. 4 sets of tires) up to date.