2018 BMW 5 Series

2018 BMW 5 Series Sedan Review

The 2018 BMW 5 Series is fast, comfortable and overflowing with technology.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 BMW 5 Series lives up to the expectations set by its forebears. There's an engine for nearly every taste, and the car's handling capabilities are fundamentally sound. Factor in the 5 Series' latest tech and safety features, and you've got a prime pick for a midsize luxury sedan.

BMW redesigned its 5 Series last year, giving the car updated styling and a bit more interior room without increasing weight. This year brings more changes, too. The 2018 5 Series has three new powertrain options: a plug-in hybrid (530e), a six-cylinder diesel engine (540d) and a twin-turbo V8 (M550i) that puts the car very close to BMW M5 territory. We were already fans of the base 530i and the 540i, so these additions carry an added benefit, whether it be the efficiency of the 530e and the 540d or the muscular power of the M550i.

On the technology front, BMW continues to push the envelope, offering wireless Apple CarPlay integration, natural language voice recognition, and even a cool 3-D simulation of your car from the outside (you have to see to believe) by using the optional surround-view cameras. And as far as modern driver assist aids go, BMW's are among the best.

Of course, there are other luxury sedans you should consider, including the Audi A6, the Lexus GS and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. We think highly of the 5 Series within this group, though, and it earns a solid recommendation.

Notably, we picked the 2018 BMW 5 Series as one of Edmunds' Best All-Wheel-Drive Sedans and Best Midsize Sedans for this year.



what's new

Three new 5 Series variants join the lineup for 2018: the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid, the 540d xDrive six-cylinder diesel, and the range-topping M550i xDrive with its turbocharged V8. The 5 Series also gets some minor shuffling of options and packages this year.

we recommend

You'll very likely be content with the power from the 530i, but the extra power and more engaging sound of BMW's turbocharged six-cylinder make the 540i the 5 Series worth paying a little more for. In either case, we think the Driver Assistance Plus package, which adds a number of active safety features, is a must-have. We'd also add the Premium package to get keyless entry, heated seats and hands-free trunk opening.

trim levels & features

The 2018 BMW 5 Series is a five-passenger sedan available in five trim levels, all with different powertrains. The 530i (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) and the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid (248 hp, 310 lb-ft) are powered by variants of BMW's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Next are two six-cylinders: The 540i (335 hp, 332 lb-ft) gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, and the 540d (261 hp, 457 lb-ft) has a 3.0-liter inline-six diesel. At the top of the range is the M550i with its turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 (456 hp, 480 lb-ft). BMW's all-wheel drive, called xDrive, is an option on the 530i, the 530e and the 540i. It's standard on the 540d and the M550i. An eight-speed automatic is standard across the board.

The base 530i and the 530e come pretty nicely equipped from the start with LED adaptive headlights, 18-inch wheels, and driver-selectable vehicle settings to alter steering, transmission response and throttle calibration. They also include power-folding and heated mirrors (the driver's side has auto dimming), automatic wipers, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, power-adjustable front sport seats, driver-seat memory functions, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat and simulated leather upholstery.

Standard technology features include the iDrive interface, with a knob and button-based touchpad controller and a 10.2-inch touchscreen display. Also standard: a navigation system, natural-language voice controls, Bluetooth, BMW emergency services, two USB ports, and a 12-speaker sound system with a CD player.

The 540i and the diesel-powered 540d are equipped very similarly to the previous two trims but have standard leather upholstery.

It's a bigger price jump to the new performance-focused M550i xDrive, which includes everything above plus 19-inch wheels with performance tires, an adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers, upgraded brakes, full LED adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, aerodynamic bodywork, a rear spoiler, upgraded power front seats, an M Sport steering wheel, keyless entry and a power trunklid.

With the exception of the M550i xDrive, after you decided what powertrain you want, you can select from one of three 5 Series styling packages. The Sport is the default choice and comes with gloss-black design elements on the bumpers. The Luxury style features chrome accents from the front grille to the rear tailpipes, with light alloy wheels and modified bumper inserts to match. The M Sport steps up the sportiness with an aerodynamic style treatment, a lower M Sport suspension, and Shadowline exterior trim.

From this point, BMW offers a variety of packages, or "tiers'' in BMW lingo. The Premium package adds a power trunk, keyless ignition and entry, satellite radio, gesture control and heated front seats. Go with the Executive package to get full LED adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, soft-close automatic doors, parking sensors, an automatic parking system, a dynamic digital instrument cluster, and a surround-view camera system with 3-D mode.

Naturally, more customization is available. The Dynamic Handling package includes an adaptive suspension and active roll stabilization. For the M550i, which comes with the adaptive suspension, you also get Integral Active Steering, which is a rear-steer system. A Luxury Seating package bundles ventilated multicontour front seats with massage function and upgraded leather upholstery.

The Driving Assistance package has two levels, the first of which includes a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning. Upgrading to the Driving Assistance Plus version also gets you forward collision warning with object and pedestrian protection, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.

Many of these features can be equipped as stand-alone options alongside Apple CarPlay, remote control parking, night vision with pedestrian detection, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system, Harman Kardon or Bowers & Wilkins premium audio systems, wireless smartphone charging and ceramic-trimmed controls.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 BMW 530i (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking4.5 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability4.5 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position4.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.5 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Utility

4.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space4.5 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration5.0 / 5.0
Driver aids5.0 / 5.0
Voice control4.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
If the driving experience is truly important to you, then the 530i is a sedan to consider. With the exception of upgraded brakes, this BMW doesn't rely on sheer horsepower or road grip to sling it around corners. What you get instead is a package that feels extremely well-rounded, which is better.

acceleration

edmunds rating
There's a surprising amount of punch from this turbo four-cylinder and you won't feel like you've compromised for efficiency. Power delivery is smooth and quiet with a robust midrange that only begins to fall off a tad at the very top. For the class it's quick, covering 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

braking

edmunds rating
Braking is ultrasmooth and easy but also powerful when you need it to be. Our test car had the upgraded M Sport brakes, which delivered good feedback and drama-free stability. It took the 530i 108 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is admirable especially with all-season tires.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering feels nicely weighted in all drive modes. Sport mode isn't needlessly hefty but is just enough to be noticeable, and Comfort felt like the perfect luxury balance. The steering isn't hypercommunicative, but the car's response to our inputs feels precise and direct.

handling

edmunds rating
This is how a sport sedan should handle. The 530i isn't a high-performance machine, but it has very solid fundamentals. It's balanced, it turns and rotates as asked, and it handles midcorner bumps without issue. This car isn't so much about speed as it is the pleasure of driving.

drivability

edmunds rating
The turbo four-cylinder and eight-speed complement each other. Response varies depending on the drive mode — Sport keeps a higher gear and Comfort favors fuel efficiency — but either works well. There's a short lag when kicking down a gear in Comfort mode, but it's inoffensive.

comfort

edmunds rating
The 530i is a supremely comfortable car with impressive climate control features, highly adjustable and massaging seats, and a whisper-quiet, soft-riding cabin. The only issue we had with the climate system is its capacity to keep us properly chilled.

seat comfort

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The seats come with everything: a ton of adjustment, ventilation and heat, and massaging bottom cushions. Strip these wonderful things away and the front bottom seat cushions do feel a little flat. Rear seat cushions are comfortable and heated, with ample padding on all the armrest areas.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The ride is comfortable and relatively plush yet well-damped so it doesn't feel floaty or untethered. This level of ride quality is especially impressive considering our 530i test car was outfitted with run-flat tires, which are often associated with a busier ride due to stiff sidewalls.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
There's a mild amount of low-frequency road noise that creeps in, but for the most part this cabin is pretty quiet. There's no wind noise and the engine is audible but doesn't come through much at all, which helps the 530i sneak below the decibel level of the Mercedes-Benz E300.

climate control

edmunds rating
The climate controls have a lot of variability with dual-temp and dual-fan speed control. You can also warm or cool the cabin or seats at a preset temperature or time. The seat ventilation is loud but not very effective, and the auto climate didn't ever turn up the fan speed quite enough.

interior

edmunds rating
The 530i's cabin is an excellent place to spend time as long as you aren't a tall rear passenger. The controls are as easy as they can be, but the countless functions take time to learn. Climbing in and out is a breeze, and between the camera aids and windows, there's no worry about blind spots.

ease of use

edmunds rating
BMW is great at minimizing button count, but that leaves a lot for iDrive to control. The iDrive menus are pretty straightforward and easy to navigate, but it takes time to wrap your head around all the options and customization available. It can be a little intimidating.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The generous door openings make climbing in and out a breeze, with plenty of head clearance front and rear. An easy-entry seat moves back, providing even more room for the driver to get in. A lack of rear leg clearance may be the only downside for a rear passenger sitting behind a taller person.

driving position

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The driver's seat offers a good amount of adjustment, with electronic adjusters for reach and tilt of the steering column. The steering column has quite a bit of range, so drivers of all sizes should be able to find their ideal position.

roominess

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There's ample space in all directions up front and a decent amount of legroom in back, but underseat toe room is a little sparse. Rear headroom is more than sufficient, and a tall person shouldn't have any issues sitting behind a tall driver.

visibility

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The windows are nicely sized, especially in the rear. There's great visibility out of the rear window thanks to rear headrests that don't impede the view. The excellent 360-degree, high-definition camera system offers a ton of multiple angles. It doesn't get much better.

quality

edmunds rating
The quality of BMW's electronics is top-notch, from the central touchscreen to the driver's gauge cluster. The fit of interior panels is also nice, but some materials used — including the wood trim, leather and plastic — aren't quite at the level of Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

utility

edmunds rating
The 530i has a fairly generous trunk with flexible cargo configurations thanks to the 40/20/40-split folding rear seat. In-cabin storage has improved over previous years, and the car seat anchors are easily accessible. The amount of backseat space is the only concern for larger car seats.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
BMW has done a better job with in-cabin storage: water bottle pockets on all the doors, a retractable cover that houses a bin for wireless phone charging up front, and a decent-size glovebox and center armrest space. Still not a ton of storage, but it's sufficient for a European luxury sedan.

cargo space

edmunds rating
At 18.7 cubic feet, the 530i's trunk is bigger than most in the segment. The trunk has a wide opening and a low liftover, but it narrows a fair amount toward the back of the rear seats. The folding rear seats are split 40/20/40, which provides some nice flexibility.

child safety seat accomodation

edmunds rating
Car seat anchors are easily accessed under plastic flip doors, with a pair of anchors at each rear outboard seat. Top tethers are also easy to access.

technology

edmunds rating
BMW is a technology juggernaut and one of the more aggressive manufacturers when it comes to innovative features. Most of them are useful, while some are cool parlor tricks, but we appreciate them all. But iDrive's character recognition may be getting too smart for its own good.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The audio system sounds great and responds well to BMW's gesture control, sometimes more convenient than using the regular volume control. iDrive provides an easy interface for the nav system, but the touchpad's character recognition kept misidentified letters we entered as special characters.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wired native interface mean there are a ton of options and they all work quite well. The only other luxury brand that provides such comprehensive device integration is Genesis, but it still requires a USB connection for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

driver aids

edmunds rating
One of the leading active driving aids, adaptive cruise, works extremely well to maintain a tight gap between traffic. The system can also actuate the brakes hard yet smoothly when needed. The most impressive feature: The HD cameras that help render an amazing 3-D image of the outside of the car.

voice control

edmunds rating
You can use the native voice recognition (VR) or the VR through your smartphone. The native system responds well to natural language and provides control of radio, media and phone functions. If you attempt a function that doesn't exist, the system tells you rather than just beeping.

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.