Car Comparison

2016 BMW 5 Series vs. 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2015

If you're interested in buying a new luxury sedan, we suspect the 2016 BMW 5 Series and the 2016 Mercedes E-Class are on your shopping list. After all, the 5 Series and E-Class are among today's most popular luxury sedans, offering a long list of engine choices, body styles, features, options and equipment. Which one is better? To find out, we've created a close comparison between both models. First, let's see what's new with the 5 Series and the E-Class for the latest model year.

2016 BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series sees only minor changes for 2016, mainly limited to three newly standard features, including a Harman Kardon sound system, a power trunk lid and satellite radio, for the V8-powered 550i.

2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The E-Class makes only two changes for 2016: Both the hybrid-powered E400 Hybrid and the sporty E63 AMG are no longer available, though the high-performance E63 AMG-S remains on sale. The E-Class is otherwise unchanged.

Reliability

According to industry experts at J.D. Power, the 5 Series earned a respectable three circles out of five in the firm's Power Circle Ratings, but the E-Class earned a stellar five circles out of five, indicating best-in-class reliability. Since the E-Class and the 5 Series offer the same basic warranty coverage (4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection), the E-Class's stronger J.D. Power Circle Rating helps it easily win our reliability category.

Fuel Economy

Both the E-Class and the 5 Series offer a wide range of engine options. In the 5 Series, three are especially designed with efficiency in mind. There's the ActiveHybrid 5, which uses a 335-horsepower 3.0-liter hybrid 6-cylinder engine that offers up to 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. There's the diesel-powered 535d, which boasts a 255-hp turbodiesel 6-cylinder that offers up to 26 mpg city/36 mpg hwy. And there's the entry-level 528i, whose 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder boasts 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

With the cancellation of its hybrid model, the E-Class offers just one engine especially designed to optimize fuel efficiency, a 2.1-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder in the E250 BlueTEC. It boasts 195 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque and fuel economy ratings that reach as high as 28 mpg city/42 mpg hwy. Additionally, the base-level E350's 302-hp 3.5-liter V6 still touts a respectable 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Overall, Mercedes wins the fuel efficiency game with the most efficient vehicle, but BMW wins with the most c

hoices for drivers interested in a fuel-saving luxury car by offering a hybrid, a diesel and a thrifty 4-cylinder.

Safety

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-test ratings, the BMW 5 Series earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. The E-Class only earned four stars. It's the opposite situation in tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While the E-Class earned a Top Safety Pick+ score, the 5 Series fell short due to a troubling Marginal performance in the firm's challenging front small-overlap crash test.

As for safety equipment, both the 5 Series and the E-Class offer just about everything you could want. Standard features are roughly the same on both models (side-curtain airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes), while the options list is predictably long. Both vehicles offer a backup camera, a blind spot warning system, an automated parallel parking system, a lane-departure warning system and forward-collision alert with automatic braking.

While both models also offer their own advantages (only the BMW has Night Vision and a multi-angle parking camera, for instance, while only the E-Class offers lane-keep assist), these two models find themselves near the top of the luxury-sedan world when it comes to safety equipment. As a result, this category is a draw.

Technology

Much like in the safety section, it's hard to pick a winner between the 5 Series and the E-Class in terms of technology. That's because both models boast many of today's latest features, with neither one offering a huge advantage over the other.

With that said, there are several unique features offered by either model that the other doesn't have. We've already covered some of the safety equipment differences between the 5 Series and the E-Class, but it goes beyond that: Only the E-Class offers a feature that opens the trunk when you wave your foot under it, while only the 5 Series offers a heads-up display. Only the 5 Series offers soft-close doors, while only the E-Class touts adjustable seat bolsters that offer extra support in turns.

In short, there are differences between these two models, and if having certain features is important to you, closely examine both cars' equipment lists before making your purchase. Generally speaking, both the 5 Series and the E-Class offer some of the most advanced technology in the luxury-sedan market.

Driving Experience

Despite improvements from Mercedes-Benz to transform the E-Class from a luxurious, comfort-oriented model into more of a driver's car, the 5 Series is still clearly the more athletic vehicle in this comparison. Its engines alone are particularly appealing, especially the turbocharged powertrains in the 528i and 535i, which have no real rival in the Mercedes-Benz camp. And it isn't just the E-Class the 5 Series beats out. The midsize BMW is just about the most enjoyable car in this segment.

Interestingly, the E-Class doesn't have a huge advantage on the 5 Series if you prefer luxury instead of performance. While we find the Mercedes to be smooth and comfortable, we can say the same thing about the BMW, even in supposedly sporty 550i guise. In other words, we're more impressed with the 5 Series' driving demeanor than the E-Class', though neither car could ever be considered a bad place to spend time behind the wheel.

Autotrader's Advice

Trying to choose between the 2016 BMW 5 Series and the 2016 Mercedes E-Class is an excellent problem to have. Both of these cars are luxurious, safe, reasonably reliable and full of gadgets and technology. Our personal preference is the BMW, which offers a better driving experience than its Mercedes-Benz rival, but there are also many compelling reasons to choose the E-Class, including an available convertible model and excellent reliability data.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 BMW 5 Series vs. 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Which Is Better? - Autotrader