Used 2016 BMW 5 Series Review
In the last year before a full redesign, the 2016 BMW 5 Series remains a smart choice for a midsize luxury sedan. But some rival sedans are fresher and offer greater driver engagement.
With an all-new model waiting behind a curtain labeled "next year" and more recently refreshed competitors representing the latest, greatest and flashiest, BMW's midsize 5 Series sedan could be viewed as a lame duck. And yet there's really nothing about the 2016 BMW 5 Series that seems stale or behind the times. For those willing to make the "sacrifice" of not having the newest and hottest wheels on the block, you'll find a tremendously well-rounded luxury sedan.
As it has been since its debut for the 2011 model year, the current-generation 5 Series is a little different from those hallowed models that came before it. It's a big, comfy and impeccably refined sedan with an emphasis on luxury rather than sport. It doesn't provide the expected degree of handling precision and engagement that driving enthusiasts might want, but it does have a spacious cabin fitted with top-notch materials and a huge number of available comfort, convenience and high-tech features.
Even after several years on the market, the current-generation BMW 5 Series remains classically handsome.
For any shopper, the 5 Series' selection of powerful and surprisingly efficient engines is going to impress. For such a large sedan to go from zero to 60 mph in around 6 seconds and return up to 30 mpg combined (535d) is truly impressive and a major reason to consider this BMW. Stepping up to the 535i and 550i gets you even quicker acceleration and still respectable fuel economy.
It's true that many competing sedans are newer and bring much to the table. The Audi A6 is a sharper-handling sedan and can match the 5 Series for performance and interior quality. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is, as always, a luxury sedan stalwart, while the Lexus GS 350 provides truly impressive craftsmanship and the promise of superior reliability. There's also the elegantly sporty Cadillac CTS, new Jaguar XF and Maserati Ghibli to consider. But even in its lame duck year, the 5 Series remains an excellent choice.
trim levels & features
The 2016 BMW 5 Series is a five-passenger four-door sedan available in four trim levels that correspond with different engines: 528i, 535i, 535d and 550i. You may see the term "xDrive" applied to their names, which indicates that the car has all-wheel drive. There are also ActiveHybrid5 and M5 variations that are reviewed separately, as is the 5 Series Gran Turismo hatchback.
The BMW 528i comes standard with 17-inch wheels, driver-selectable vehicle settings (altering steering, transmission response and throttle calibration), automatic and adaptive xenon headlights, LED accent lights, LED foglights, power-folding and auto-dimming heated mirrors, automatic wipers, a sunroof, cruise control, dual-zone automatic cruise control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment and driver memory functions, a 60/40-split folding rear seat and "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery. Standard technology features include the iDrive interface (knob/button controller and 10.2-inch display), a navigation system, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW emergency services, and a 12-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port, a media player interface and 20GB of digital music storage.
There's plenty of legroom and plenty of gizmos available for rear passengers.
Besides their more powerful engines, the 535i and 535d add 18-inch wheels and leather upholstery.
The 550i adds a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, keyless ignition and entry, 14-way multicontour front seats, passenger memory functions, satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
There are several packages available throughout the 5 Series lineup. The Premium package (all but 550i) adds keyless ignition and entry, satellite radio and, on the 528i, leather upholstery. The Cold Weather package adds heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and retractable headlight washers. The Lighting package adds adaptive LED headlights and automatic high beams.
If you opt for the Luxury Seating package, you'll get ventilated front seats with a quasi-massage function and the 550i's 14-way multicontour adjustments. The Driver Assistance package (all but 550i) adds a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display and an enhanced instrument cluster. Those items are also included in the Driver Assistance Plus package that adds side- and top-view cameras and a variety of accident avoidance technologies detailed in the below Safety section. The Dynamic Handling package (all but 528i) adds an enhanced, adaptive suspension for improved ride and handling. There is also the BMW Individual Composition option (all but 528i) that opens the door to a variety of distinctive interior leather colors and trims.
Individual options include (if not standard on an upper trim) the rearview camera, top- and side-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, night vision driver assistance, an automatic parallel parking system, the power trunk lid, soft-close doors, power rear sunshades and manual rear side sunshades, a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system, the Harman Kardon sound system and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Also available is Integral Active Steering, which provides the rear wheels with the ability to turn for improved stability and maneuverability.
performance & mpg
Every BMW 5 Series model comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is an option on all and is dubbed "xDrive." Also standard is an automatic stop-start function that shuts down the engine when the car stops in order to save fuel.
The BMW 528i is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, a rear-wheel-drive version went from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is a solidly average showing for a base-model midsize luxury sedan. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 27 mpg combined (23 city/34 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 26 mpg (22/34) with xDrive.
The 535i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive, it did the 0-60 sprint in 5.7 seconds -- another competitive result. EPA fuel economy stands at 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 23 mpg (20/29) with xDrive.
The 535d diesel is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. It went from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds in our tests, which is on par with the Audi A6 TDI but much quicker than the Mercedes E250 Bluetec. EPA fuel economy is 30 mpg combined (26 city/38 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 30 mpg (26/37) with xDrive.
The 550i has a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. BMW estimates that it will reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which is very quick. Its EPA estimates are 20 mpg combined (17/25) with rear-wheel drive and 19 (16/25) with xDrive.
Standard safety equipment for the 2016 BMW 5 Series includes stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The braking system also periodically wipes the brake rotors dry in wet conditions and automatically snugs the brake pads to the rotors in preparation when you abruptly lift off the throttle. Also standard are the BMW Assist and Remote Services emergency communications systems, which include automatic crash notification, an SOS button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery.
Parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on the 550i and optional on other models. An upgraded side- and top-view parking camera system is optional. The Driver Assistance Plus package includes a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system and a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking. There is also the Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection system that uses an infrared sensor to detect people and objects outside of headlight range.
In Edmunds brake testing, various 5 Series models with optional summer run-flat tires came to a stop from 60 mph in distances ranging from 110-114 feet. Those are very good numbers, but they're pretty typical for sport sedans wearing summer tires. Most 5 Series models are equipped with all-season run-flat tires and will have slightly longer braking distances as a result.
In government crash tests the 5 Series received five out of five stars for overall and side crash protection, and four stars for front protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best possible rating of "Good" in the moderate front overlap, side and roof strength tests, while the seat/head restraint design also received a "Good" rating for whiplash protection. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the 5 Series received the second-lowest rating of "Marginal."
If the 2016 BMW 5 Series were judged on its engines alone, few would question its "Ultimate Driving Machine" status. The 528i's turbocharged inline-4 punches well above its weight class, and the six-cylinder 535i is a paradigm of smoothness. But the pick of the litter may well be the diesel-powered 535d, which is as fleet as the 535i and serves up 25 percent better fuel economy to boot. If you don't mind filling up more frequently, the 445-hp 550i throws down acceleration that's forceful enough to make an M5 fan think twice (especially given the 550i's more comfortable ride and lower price tag). Less appealing is the vibration caused by the automatic stop-start system, especially in the 528i and 535d.
We also don't like how the 5 Series never feels as nimble or precise as we'd like when going around turns, even with the car's Sport settings engaged. The steering also lacks the precision for which it used to be renowned. So that's the bad news. The good news is that the 5 Series is blessed with a smooth, absorbent ride quality. If a luxurious day-to-day experience is more important to you than driver involvement, you're going to like how the 2016 5 Series behaves in the daily grind.
The 2016 5 Series cabin is attractive and trimmed with consistently high-quality materials, though it's not flashy. Elegant restraint is the name of the game here, and it's a game that BMW has played to perfection for decades. The instrument panel is a clear connection to the company's past with its classic twin analog gauges. Another heritage touch is the dashboard's understated center stack (the portion that includes the climate and audio controls), which cants toward the driver for an easier and quicker reach.
The 5 Series' dash isn't all that stylish, but it's impeccably built and the controls are generally easy to use.
The central nervous system of every 5 Series is the iDrive interface, consisting of a high-resolution 10.2-inch display in the center of the dashboard and a rotary controller on the center console with surrounding menu buttons. With practice it ultimately becomes user-friendly, but some rival systems seem to require fewer presses or twirls of their controllers to get what you want.
The base front seats are some of the comfiest and most supportive found in any car, and the available multicontour seats are even better, providing a wide range of adjustments and sublime support for all driving scenarios. Rear outboard passengers will find satisfactory space in all directions, even if they're 6-footers, and the rear seats themselves are thoughtfully contoured and padded. Small item storage is limited, however, as is the relatively small 14-cubic-foot trunk.
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.