What Did We Get?
Is it possible that middle-child syndrome can apply to the automotive world? Are midrange models overshadowed by their siblings? The BMW 5 Series is in that position, but it's still a star in its own right by offering affluent shoppers exceptional levels of refinement and performance in a spacious sedan.
There's no getting past the fact that most shoppers these days are more interested in crossovers and SUVs, thanks to their elevated ride heights and larger cargo capacities. Yet sedans such as the 5 Series have advantages when it comes to handling, fuel economy, overall performance and maneuverability. Is it enough? We got a 2018 540i xDrive to find out.
What Options Does It Have?
We opted for a midrange version of the 5 Series, which in this case is the 540i with a 335-horsepower six-cylinder engine. It's bookended by the base 248-hp 530i and the burly 456-hp M550i xDrive. Prices for the 530i start right around $53,000, and the M550i kicks the price of admission just past $74,000. Our 540i started around $59,000.
To that, we added BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system ($2,300). Then came the options including Mediterranean Blue metallic paint, the Driving Assistance package (head-up display, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning), the Driving Assistance Plus package (forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection), the M Sport package (19-inch wheels, LED foglights, adaptive dampers, some unique exterior and interior flourishes, keyless entry, heated front seats, SensaTec dashboard, satellite radio, gesture control), rear sunshades, Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad and a premium Harman Kardon surround-sound system.
The final MSRP came out to $72,695. There was no negotiating the price down since BMW lent us the car for the year.
Why We Got It?
The 5 Series has long been one of the benchmarks in the midsize sedan category, so anytime it gets a complete redesign it's worth looking into more closely. We want to know if this generation has moved the dial in terms of luxury, performance and a number of other usability metrics. Is it still a driver's car or has it been watered down to garner broader appeal? What do we love or hate about it, and what might break?
We'll find out over the next 12 months as we aim to log 20,000 miles. Follow along as we post our progress on our long-term road test updates page as well as on our Instagram account.
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.