There’s a new BMW 5 Series rolling into US dealerships, and whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid or something altogether punchier you should find a new German sedan to suit. Now in its 7th generation, the 2021 BMW 5 Series kicks off with the 530i and runs all the way through to the 523 horsepower 2021 M550i xDrive.
Outside, the most obvious change is the new grille. As you’d expect it’s BMW’s kidney shape, but it’s taller and wider, dipping down into the front bumper as we’ve seen on other recent models from the automaker.
It’s also surrounded by a one-piece trim element, while the vertical slates are more pronounced. Either side are Adaptive LED headlamps, slimmer in profile and now fitted as standard. They have two L-shaped daytime lights on each side, which double as turn signals.
At the rear, there’s a new trapezoidal tailpipe finisher design, and new L-shaped tail lights. With the M Sport Package, there are new front and rear bumpers, along with larger front air intakes – which get mesh inserts too – and a different rear diffuser.
Inside, the Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster – with a 12.3-inch screen – is standard, as is iDrive 7 on a 12.3-inch center touchscreen. Navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all standard, as is Perforated SensaTec upholstery with contrast stitching. Dakota leather and Nappa leather are optional. Sports seats are standard, as is a 40:20:40 folding rear bench.
The 2021 530i and 530i xDrive use a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine, with 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph comes in 5.9 seconds, and top speed is 130 mph on all-season tires and 155 mpg with performance rubber.
As for the 2021 530e and 530e xDrive, they use an eDrive hybrid system. A 181 hp 2.0-liter gas engine is paired with a 107 hp electric drive unit, the latter integrated into the 8-speed Steptronic transmission. Total power is 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque; in SPORT mode, an XtraBoost feature can add 40 hp for up to 10 seconds when you hit the accelerator, courtesy of the electric motor and the 12 kWh lithium-ion battery. 0-60 mph comes in 5.7 seconds, and top speed is 130 mph with all-season tires or 146 mph (143 mph for the 530e xDrive) with performance tires.
In the 2021 540i and 540i xDrive, there’s a 3.0-liter inline-6 turbo engine, with 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. It does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds in the rear-wheel drive car, or 4.6 seconds in the all-wheel drive; top-speed is 130 mph or 155 mph, depending on the type of tires you have. A 48V starter-generator mild hybrid system powers the cabin tech as well as adding up to 11 hp to the drivetrain for short periods.
All cars get an 8-speed Steptronic transmission, with intelligent shifts linked to the navigation system – and, if fitted, the Active Cruise Control system’s radar – to adjust according to road and traffic conditions. If you’re approaching a vehicle in the lane ahead, for example, the 5 Series can automatically downshift to use engine braking to reduce speed.
An M Sport Package adds M Sport Suspension and a 0.4-inch lower ride height. The 540i/540i xDrive can be had with a Dynamic Handling Package, with electronically controlled shocks individually adjusting the damping on each wheel.
2021 BMW M550i xDrive Sedan
Most potent of the range – at least until a 2021 BMW M5 arrives – is the new M550i xDrive. That has a new aerodynamic kit from the M Sport Package, and adds a trunk lid spoiler and Cerium Grey side mirror caps, grille, front air intakes, and model lettering. The exhaust finishers are in black chrome, and the window surrounds in high-gloss black.
Inside, Dakota leather is standard, and Nappa leather an option. The dashboard is finished in Black SensaTech with brown stitching, while the seats are the M Multi-contour versions.
Most important, of course, is the engine. That’s a 4.4-liter V8 TwinPower Turbo, with 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 comes in 3.6 seconds; top speed is 130 mph with all-season rubber and 155 mph with performance tires. A Steptronic Sport transmission is standard, with eight speeds, faster gear changes, paddle shifters, and Launch Control.
Adaptive M Suspension is standard, but can be upgraded to the Adaptive M Suspension professional. That adds Active Roll Stabilization and Integral Active Steering. 19-inch wheels are standard, with 20-inch wheels optional.
Plenty of new 5 Series tech
BMW isn’t stinting on gadgetry. All cars get lane departure warnings with steering correction, blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts, and frontal collision with pedestrian warning and auto-brake. Options include active cruise control, Extended Traffic Jam Assist for limited access highways with hands-free control, lane-keeping assistant, and even an Emergency Stop Assistant which can help guide the 5 Series Sedan to the side of the road if you’re incapacitated.
3D graphics in the navigation is standard, showing the position of cars, trucks, and motorcycles spotted in the lanes around the car. Overlaid graphics show the maneuvers which the assistance systems can assist with. BMW Maps, meanwhile, use real-time traffic data to pull make for faster route calculations and dynamic rerouting.
The Parking Assistance Package optionally adds a panoramic view and 3D surround camera view. It can also help guide the car into and out of a parking space, while Back-Up Assistant records the last 50 yards driven at speeds below 20 mph, then reverses that exactly to help you escape a narrow path or driveway. Drive Recorder repurposes the cameras as a security log.
There’s “Hey BMW” voice control, and you can now use it to do things like open and close the windows and adjust the HVAC. It can also run according to rules from learned routines. If you always open the window when you get to your office parking lot to scan your badge, for instance, the 5 Series will eventually learn that and automatically open the window when you reach those GPS coordinates.