2021 BMW 5 Series
- $55,195 - $77,795
- July 2020
What to expect
- Updated grille design
- 540i and 540i xDrive gain 48-volt mild hybrid system
- Larger touchscreen and improved voice controls
- Part of the seventh 5 Series generation introduced for 2017
What is the 5 Series?
The 2021 BMW 5 Series is the latest version of BMW's venerable midsize luxury sedan. The 5 Series was last fully redesigned in 2017, and this year's model introduces a number of interesting twists and tweaks to improve upon a winning formula. While the current 5 Series is notable for its range of quick, efficient engines and comfortable ride, its styling didn't exactly jump off the page. For 2021, the front grille, headlights, taillights and tailpipe finishers are redesigned to give BMW's popular sedan a little extra flair.
What's under the 5 Series' hood?
The 2021 BMW 5 Series offers buyers the choice between four powertrains. The 248-horsepower four-cylinder engine in the 530i and 530i xDrive and the 523-horsepower eight-cylinder in the M550i xDrive carry the same power ratings as last year. The 530e and 530e xDrive plug-in hybrids now feature a new XtraBoost system that can temporarily increase maximum muscle from 248 horsepower to 288 hp in the Sport driving and transmission modes.
However, the 540i and the 540i xDrive, previously using a conventional six-cylinder engine, add a 48-volt mild hybrid starter-generator for 2021. This setup is gaining traction among luxury automakers and essentially incorporates hybrid technology into a non-hybrid vehicle. For the 540i, this means regenerative brakes store energy harvested from the braking process in a separate battery. This energy can be used to supply the 12-volt electrical system that powers the windows, locks and other functions. It can also be used to assist the engine, providing up to an additional 11 horsepower when needed. BMW says this makes the 540i more efficient while providing quicker responsiveness when asked.
How's the 5 Series' interior?
Inside, the 2021 5 Series is largely unchanged from the previous model year, carrying over the spacious and statesman-like cabin we rated highly in our testing. However, there are a few updates. The sedan's central touchscreen is bumped up from 10.25 inches to 12.3 inches and features improved navigation maps. The standard Sensatec imitation leather upholstery is also perforated this year, so look for seat ventilation to pop up on the options list with this upholstery.
How's the 5 Series' tech?
As with the 2020 model, the 2021 5 Series comes with an impressive number of safety features such as lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, front collision warning with brake assist, and others. A handful of additional driving aids are available in the Driving Assistance Plus package, and we've enjoyed the smooth operation of its adaptive cruise control in the past.
The Live Cockpit Professional system, released on last year's 5 Series, ties together the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen. For 2021, it adds a few new functions, including displaying information about surrounding vehicles and motorists on the information screen in front of the driver. The voice activation system is upgraded to its newest generation, and the Drive Recorder makes its 5 Series debut. This optional system can save recorded video footage taken by exterior cameras to be watched on the central screen or exported to a USB drive later.
Electrification keeps creeping further into the BMW lineup, and we don't expect it to stop with the 5 Series. The mild hybrid system in the 540i and 540i xDrive should make this transition a smooth one. However, we wonder if buyers will notice the almost-too-subtle design updates. If not, the 5 Series risks fading further into the background against its German rivals and the plucky Genesis.