The 2020 BMW 5 Series is one of the finest cars available. A sweeping statement, admittedly, but let’s consider the evidence.
Just from the standpoints of space and power, the 2020 5 Series premium midsize sedan provides easily enough for most purposes. A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version is offered that costs no more than the entry level model with a regular combustion engine. Props to BMW for that.
Not even Rolls-Royce or Bentley offer a remote control parking feature where the driver can be outside the car and maneuver it into a parking spot, then turn off the engine and activate the locks, all while using a smartphone as a controller. And remember that BMW owns Rolls-Royce.
Nor do those super-expensive marques have BMW Connected, which brings the digital world into the 5 Series and the 5 Series into the digital world. If someone wanted to check on their BMW’s surroundings (at the airport parking lot, for example, or where the valet has left it), they could merely consult their smartphone. They can even find a location on their phone and send the address to the car’s navigation system.
Users are also reminded about their next scheduled journey and what time they need to leave. And the 5 Series links to Amazon’s Alexa, so locking the car remotely and checking how much gas is in the tank can all be done by voice commands.
Like other BMW vehicles, the 5 Series has the option of gesture control. The driver can twirl a finger to raise or lower the sound system’s volume and swipe a hand through the air to take a call or send it to voicemail.
The point of all this is to illustrate that the 2020 5 Series is a major player in a category that’s bursting with impressive contenders. BMW makes the 5 Series compelling on several levels, yet these different aspects complement each other. The engines are punchy yet smooth, and the driving dynamics deliver sufficient sensations for the enthusiast while also providing long-distance comfort for all occupants.
The extravagantly powerful BMW M5 high-performance variant has its own review.
What’s New for 2020?
Versions at the lower end of the price spectrum receive keyless entry/ignition, the 12.3-in digital driver display (Live Cockpit Professional) and the Connected Package Professional. This latter item has a better understanding of natural speech than previous voice control systems and responds to commands starting with the words: "Hey, BMW."
As well as heated seats and an M Sport differential, the M550i xDrive gains 67 horsepower and 73 lb-ft of torque, shaving 0.3 of a second from its 0-to-60 mph sprint. Now it can achieve that run in just 3.6 seconds.
The 530e plug-in hybrid is fitted with a more powerful lithium-ion battery, adding another four to five miles of electric-only range. See the 2020 BMW 5 Series models for sale near you
What We Like
- Impressive technology
- Exquisite balance between comfort and control
What We Don’t
- Artificial feel to the electric-assisted power steering
$54,895 to $77,645
The 530i has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive (AWD) (BMW calls it xDrive) is optional.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the rear-wheel drive (RWD) 530i achieves 25 miles per gallon of city driving, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving. AWD modifies those figures to 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.
The 530e plug-in hybrid links an electric motor with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine for a total of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It retains the standard 8-speed automatic transmission. In RWD form, it’s estimated to achieve 69 MPGe combined or 65 MPGe with AWD. Electric-only range from the updated-for-2020 lithium-ion battery is 21 miles (RWD) or 19 miles (xDrive).
A 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 propels the 540i to the tune of 335 hp and 332 lb-ft. It comes with the same 8-speed automatic transmission as the 530i and also offers xDrive. Fuel consumption is 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined (RWD) or 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined (AWD).
The M550i xDrive packs a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 developing 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. AWD is standard and fuel consumption is rated at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 BMW 5 Series comes in 530i, 530e, 540i and M550i xDrive forms. Where it’s optional, AWD is an extra $2,300.
The 530i ($54,895) has 18-in alloy wheels, a powered moonroof, all-LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, heated/self-dimming/power-folding side mirrors, keyless entry/ignition dual-zone automatic climate control, 16-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, a power-adjustable steering column, front/rear parking sensors, simulated leather upholstery, ambient LED cabin lighting, selectable driving modes, driver fatigue/focus alert, forward-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a 12.3-in digital driver information display, iDrive infotainment interface with a 10.3-in screen, Bluetooth, navigation, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 12-speaker/205-watt audio system, HD radio, two USB ports, 32 GB of multimedia storage and an auxiliary audio input.
The 530e ($54,895) has the plug-in hybrid powertrain and a few dedicated gauges, but is otherwise equipped in a similar manner to the 530i.
The 540i ($60,445) has its own engine, as well as leather upholstery, but otherwise follows the formula above. It also becomes eligible for the Remote Control Parking option.
The M550i xDrive ($77,645) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, a more powerful engine and specific modifications for a sportier driving experience, like the M Sport differential. It also has several features that are optional in the lower models, such as heated front seats.
The Convenience options bundle consists of a powered trunk lid, satellite radio and heated front seats.
The Premium package brings a head-up display, Wi-Fi, wireless charging and gesture control to the Convenience package’s features. The Executive package includes the Premium bundle then adds automatic high beams, steering-adaptive headlights, soft-close doors and rear sunshades with a powered shade for the rear window.
An optional M Sport package comes with 19-in wheels, LED fog lights and a lowered, sportier suspension. Add this to the 540i and 20-in wheels become available. A Dynamic Handling package includes an adaptive suspension, stronger brakes and rear-wheel steering.
Advanced safety features come in the Driving Assistance Plus package (see the Safety section below).
The Parking Assistance package includes a self-serving function for parallel parking, sensors at both ends and a 360-degree camera system.
There’s a choice of audio upgrades: a 16-speaker/600-watt Harman Kardon Surround Sound setup or a 16-speaker/1,400-watt system from Bowers & Wilkins.
Other options include a heated steering wheel, dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, night vision with pedestrian detection and 20-way adjustable multicontour front seats with massaging and ventilation functions.
Trunk space is 18.7 cu ft. Assuming one set of golf clubs is around 4 cu ft., there’s room for four sets. Except in the 530e, whose battery pack reduces cargo area to 15 cu ft.
Standard safety equipment includes a full complement of airbags, plus anti-lock disc brakes and traction/stability control. Optional driver aids include adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping assistance, traffic jam assist and evasive steering assistance.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the 5 Series the top score of five stars overall, with four stars for front impact protection and five stars for side impacts. The car also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test program, emerging as a Top Safety Pick Plus.
Behind the Wheel
Even though the 5 Series can lay on the comfort and supply lavish levels of technology, BMW hasn’t forsaken its enthusiast roots. Select Sport mode for sharper responses from the steering, transmission and throttle (and suspension, if the adaptive setup is installed), and those canyon roads will beckon. In Comfort mode, the steering feels light when the car is pointed straight ahead, not improving much in the turns. In any mode, the cabin remains tranquil.
Passenger space can easily accommodate adults in both rows. The dashboard keeps clutter to a minimum, the ergonomics are just right and the quality of the materials is absolutely appropriate for such a high-class car.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Audi A6 — Comes with a gorgeous cabin that offers state-of-the-art technology.
2020 Genesis G80 — Comes with lots of standard equipment for the price, but not as sophisticated as its better-established rivals.
2020 Jaguar XF — Winner of a "best sedan" award … from Germany.
2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — Offers an array of semiautonomous technology as well as many other Autobahn-worthy talents.
Used Porsche Panamera — Even greater prestige and driving abilities than a 5 Series. An example of a first-generation model (a new generation debuted for 2017) could be about the same as a well-stocked 5 Series.
We’re impressed by the ability of the 530e to provide entertaining muscle paired with excellent fuel economy. If our daily driving involved a lot of traffic, this would be a serious consideration.
However, a BMW 6-cylinder engine is a wonderful thing. So a 540i and some carefully chosen options would be a fine version of a 5 Series without slipping into extravagance. Find a BMW 5 Series for sale