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.
I purchased an '06 with 48k on it - a CPO car with some protection (and maintenance) remaining on the warranty.
Sticker was $64k in 2006,
and I was fortunate to purchase the car for under $22k from a BMW dealer in Houston.
What can I say?
The car has amazing performance and handling, with stock 18" rims and Yokahama run flats (odd, since there is a spare).
Suspension is a bit stiff for an everyday driver, so says my wife, however, it allows the corners to be straightened out a bit when you get the nerve.
Rear leg room is A+ and trunk space is huge.
I-drive not too bad once used to it, but could have been made friendlier.
I bought this car three years ago and I've generally been quite satisfied. It gets decent mileage overall and over 30mpg on the road. New passengers not aware of the brand will often ask what kind of car it is because it's so comfortable. Since the car has had very little wear its frequently confused with a newer car since the basic body design remained the same until 2010.
It does have some flaws. One of these is that the I-Drive computer occasionally doesn't boot at start up and leaves me without a radio until it does. The parking radar often takes a while to shut off after leaving a parking space. However in the basics like comfort and performance the car is great.
I did purchase an extended drive train warranty, but I've recently had a large number of systems fail in short order including the water pump, purge valve, and transmission pan and filter. There's also the standard German oil leak which is so minuscule that I've chosen not to fix it. My mechanic and I both think that this bad period will pass and that the car will remain reliable so I'm currently still positive about it. It's a great machine.
Addendum: On the positive side I've just been in an accident where I was broadsided by a driver who didn't try to stop. He must have been doing at least 65 in a 45 speed limit zone. The car lost a fender and deployed the side but not front airbags. I lost one fender and little else. I walked away without a scratch. Very impressive!
The only negative about this car and other BMWs is that some systems are unique so it's hard to find a mechanic who will work on one other than the dealer. Nevertheless, performance and now safety are excellent.
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!