If you’re looking for information on a newer BMW 5 Series, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 BMW 5 Series Review
The 2016 BMW 5 Series is well worth considering amid a segment full of glorious premium midsize sedans. The current 5 launched in 2011 and is ready to be superseded by the seventh generation when the calendar clicks around to 2017. In the meantime, though, we still have a crushingly capable car to enjoy.
This 5 Series hasn’t forged the same reputation for sportiness as previous versions, but it can still hustle down a country road. What might have confused some people is that it does so in ways that are more subtle and luxurious than ever before. Each engine is strong and efficient, and the cabins are well put together and contain plenty of impressive technology. As a whole, the 5 Series has evolved into a swift, supple and serene sedan — an unflappable tourer that gives the driver a sense of complete confidence and control.
What’s New for 2016?
A little extra tech makes its way into the cabin in the form of mobile-office functioning (with text messaging, email, calendar, tasks, voice memos and photos of contacts available) and in the added ability to link up a second phone with Bluetooth.
Some stock wheel designs have been changed. The 550i now has a power trunk lid, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon surround-sound system as standard. The ActiveHybrid 5 gains gearshift paddles as standard, and in the interests of durability, the Venetian Beige upholstery option now comes with black carpeting, door panels and other interior accents. See the 2016 BMW 5 Series models for sale near you
What We Like
World-class engines; cosseting ride; rich interior; full range of technology offerings
What We Don’t
Engine stop/start function could be less intrusive; the ActiveHybrid 5 model’s fuel economy disappoints
The 528i deploys a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic is the only transmission. With rear-wheel drive, it returns 23 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined — or 22 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
A turbocharged inline-6 in the 535i develops 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is still strong at 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined (rear drive) and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (all-wheel drive).
The 535d has a turbodiesel inline-6 pumping out 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is an impressive 26 mpg city/38 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 26 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
The 550i serves up 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. Predictably, fuel economy suffers: 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive. The xDrive version achieves 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.
The ActiveHybrid 5 links the turbocharged gasoline inline-6 to an electric motor and the 8-speed automatic for a total system output of 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is relatively disappointing for a hybrid: 23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2016 BMW 5 Series sedan comes as a 4-cylinder 528i, 6-cylinder 535i, turbodiesel 535d, V8-powered 550i and ActiveHybrid 5. The high-performance M5 and 5-door Gran Turismo models are reviewed separately.
The 528i ($51,195) comes standard with the turbocharged inline-4 engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps, LED running lights/fog lights/taillights, a sunroof, power-folding heated side mirrors, an electronic limited-slip differential, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power front seats with lumbar support and driver memory, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-speaker audio system and the iDrive infotainment system with navigation, 20 gigabytes of digital music storage and a 10.2-in central display screen.
The 535i ($56,845) adds a turbocharged inline-6, 18-in wheels and leather upholstery.
The 535d ($58,345) runs a turbodiesel inline-6 but is otherwise comparable to the 535i.
The ActiveHybrid 5 ($63,095) is essentially a 535i with an electric propulsion system added to the turbo inline-6, although quad-zone climate control with individual temperature settings also comes as standard.
The 550i ($67,295) rocks a twin-turbo V8, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a hands-free power trunk lid with a foot sensor, keyless entry/push-button starting, a Harman Kardon audio system and 14-way multicontour power front seats with memory settings for the driver and front passenger.
All-wheel drive is a $2,300 option on all except the ActiveHybrid 5, which is rear-drive only.
Many standard features in the higher trims are available as options on lower trims. There are also numerous packages and individual options, including a head-up display, a night-vision system, automatic parking, an adaptive suspension, rear-wheel steering, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and a 16-speaker/600-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.
The trunk measures 14 cu ft., which is low for a midsize sedan, but it’s a usefully deep cargo area. The ActiveHybrid 5, however, only holds 10 cu ft. because of the extra hardware it has to accommodate.
The BMW 5 Series comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). The available BMW Assist Safety Plan adds 4 years of emergency roadside services. The Driver Assistance Plus package brings an array of high-tech safety features, including a surround-view camera system, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system and a collision-detection system with auto-stop capability.
In government crash tests, the current 5 Series received a perfect five stars overall, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 5 Series its top Good rating except for the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test, where the car earned only the second-lowest Marginal score.
Behind the Wheel
Even the standard 10-way power front seats are among the best at this price, but it’s worth stepping up to the 14-way multicontour seats, as they’re essentially BMW’s attempt at creating the world’s best places to sit. Interior materials are uniformly rich, and the restrained dashboard design — including the center stack canted toward the driver — is straight out of the higher-class 7 Series playbook. The 10.2-in central display features beautiful graphics and a user-friendly iDrive interface.
The 528i’s turbo four appears to make more power than BMW lets on; it feels surprisingly strong. The 535i model’s 300-hp engine is highly seductive, and with its considerable torque, the 535d’s turbodiesel might be even more satisfying. The 550i delivers incredible acceleration at any speed, something that must be experienced to be fully believed.
The ActiveHybrid 5 is less compelling. A true dual-mode hybrid, it can accelerate solely on electric power up to 37 miles per hour and can coast in electric-only mode at speeds up to 100 mph. But performance is only on a level with the less-powerful 535i due to the increased weight, and fuel economy is barely better than the 535i.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Audi A6 — The A6 (specifically, the supercharged 3.0T model) can give the 5 Series a run for its money. With its twin-turbocharged V8, the S6 sport sedan is a direct competitor to the 550i.
2016 Cadillac CTS — The CTS is yet another example of the fantastic alternatives this kind of buyer has.
2016 Jaguar XF — Representing an all-new generation for 2016, the latest XF is going big with aluminum construction, a supple ride and supercharged engines.
2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — The E-Class is always a formidable rival and fabulous choice. An all-new generation debuts for 2017, though, so it’s probably best to scope that out before taking the plunge.
Used BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe — Although the Gran Coupe is considerably pricier when new, certified pre-owned examples at BMW dealerships go for 5 Series money. The back seat is smaller, but the styling is a home run.
There really isn’t a bad choice; it all boils down to budget and personal preference. The 535d is an obvious pick because of its excellent torque combined with decent economy, but the twin-turbo V8 in the 550i is something else — and remember that a new generation is scheduled for 2017. Find a BMW 5 Series for sale