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2021 BMW 5-Series Preview

  • Varied powertains
  • Spacious interior
  • Performance and efficiency options
  • Standard 12.3-inch touchscreen
  • Mild-hybrid turbo-6
  • Body hasn’t changed much
  • Real hides cost extra
  • Active lane control isn’t standard
  • The 2021 BMW 5-Series goes on sale in July 2020.
The 2021 BMW 5-Series pushes all the right buttons for mid-size luxury shoppers. And there are a lot of them.

With the 2021 5-Series luxury mid-size sedan, BMW proves that less is more—except when more is more. 

The new sedan arrives this July with more power in some versions, more electrified options, and more screens. Its grille takes up comparably less space on its snout than some other BMWs (7-Series, we’re looking at you) and the new 5-Series consumes less fuel, in some models. We’ll give you two guesses if the new 5-Series costs more or less than last year’s version, although we’re betting you only need one. 

Like last year, BMW offers the 5-Series in 530i, 540i, 530e, and M550i drive configurations with a dizzying array of powertrains: 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder power are available, with or without hybrid batteries. The base 2021 530i costs $55,195, including destination, which is $300 more than the 2020 version. 

Style and performance
If you’ve seen a new BMW 5-Series, you’ve already seen the 2021 5-Series. That’s the most polite way we can say: Not much has changed for this year. The new 5-Series’ beak is a little sharper, its headlights are a little narrower, and its grille is a little bigger—although not as big as other BMW sedans. 

In back, the trapezoidal tailpipe finishers go against the grain (other automakers are now hiding their tailpipes) and the taillights are a little more vertical. 
Inside, twin 12.3-inch screens dominate the interior in good and bad ways. The good? It keeps pace with the tech arms race from other luxury automakers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The bad? It clutters an otherwise contemporary interior that’s clean and classic. 

Like last year, the 5-Series is available in a stupefying number of configurations that climb up the price and performance ladder. 

The 2021 5-Series starts with the 530i, which uses a competent 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 248 hp. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on those models. 

The next step up is the most efficient 5-Series. The 530e pairs a turbo-4 with electric motors and a hybrid battery pack to make 288 hp combined. Compared to last year’s 530e, the 2021 version is more powerful by 40 hp and its battery is about 33% bigger than 2019 versions. (The 2020 battery was the same size as the new 2021 version). The EPA hasn’t yet tallied the new 530e’s mileage, but the last model traveled about 20 miles on electricity alone. The 530e also delivers a 40 hp boost in 10-second sprints, which is new this year.

The next step up is the 2021 540i that uses a turbo inline-6 spinning out 335 hp that’s paired to a mild-hybrid system that’s new this year. The starter-generator works in the background for better fuel efficiency at lower speeds, although official EPA figures aren’t yet available. 

The top, for now, is the M550i xDrive that’s equipped with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 523 hp. It’s the only 5-Series with standard all-wheel drive and it needs it—the sedan springs to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

Like its predecessors, the 2021 5-Series rides on an independent suspension with double wishbones up front and a rear multilink. Some cars add adaptive dampers (some make it standard, too) that can toggle between comfort and sporty settings. 

Comfort, safety and features
The new 5-Series adds about an inch to its overall length, although interior space is unchanged. That’s a good thing; all 5-Series were comfortable for adults, up to five. 

BMW made synthetic leather standard on 530 and 540 models, which raises our eyebrow. We’d prefer real hides standard on cars that cost upward of $60,000 to start—Audi includes it as standard on cars that cost less, after all. 

Real leather is available on all trims and standard on top models, and we suggest it. Multiple seating options are available including heated and cooled nappa buckets with massagers—good, better, best. 

The trunk holds 14 cubic feet of cargo, which is on the small side for its class. (Plug-in hybrids make do with only 10 cubic feet due to the batteries.)

In addition to standard automatic emergency braking, the 5-Series is equipped with blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts. Adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and active lane control are on the options list—as is BMW’s driver-assistance features that can pilot the car without driver interaction at speeds slower than 40 mph. 

All 5-Series are equipped with 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, a moonroof, twin 12.3-inch displays for instruments and infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and Bluetooth. Options include leather, bigger wheels, adaptive dampers, and convenience features. 

The 2021 BMW 5-Series goes on sale in July 2020.

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