The seventh-generation BMW 5 Series hit the road in early 2017 for the following model year, with new variants and powertrains expanding the lineup.
With a big push towards elegant looks, improved driving dynamics, and new assistance and connectivity systems, BMW intended to give this sedan the tools it needed to continue the success of its predecessors. Weight savings of 100 kg (220 lb) compared to the previous 5 Series platform and improved aerodynamics – along with a lower centre of gravity and a stiffer structure – made this the model’s most efficient and best handling version to date.
Shoppers considering the move from an older 5 Series will find a bevy of upgrades and enhancements including gesture control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a larger head-up display, eight-program massage seating, wireless smartphone charging, remote-controlled parking, and more.
A 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 252 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque is found under the hood of the BMW 530i, while the 540i ran a 3.0L turbocharged inline six-cylinder that’s good for 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. The 530e comes equipped with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, and the M550i runs a turbocharged 4.4L V8 that spins up 455 hp.
The 2021 version received a refresh, with improvements to interior and exterior styling, aerodynamics, equipment, performance, and feature packaging. A new 48-volt mild hybrid system helped boost performance and efficiency, adding 40 hp to the BMW 530e. Onboard, a new 12.3-inch instrument display and 12.3-inch central touchscreen became standard across the board. The M550i’s V8 was bumped to 523 hp as well.
A 2021 or newer 530e should provide a solid return on your investment, as you’ll benefit from the improved hybrid performance and efficiency, and the possibility of all-electric driving for shorter trips and commuting.
What Owners Like
Owners tend to appreciate the wide range of options and engines available in this generation BMW 5 Series, allowing them to fully tailor the car to their specific needs and tastes. A comfortable ride and the available massaging seats were highly rated by many owners, too. Sporty dynamics and a quiet drive with good safety and connectivity tech help round out the package.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wished for more aggressive exterior styling, and a more pleasing driving experience under very spirited driving where some owners and experts figure this generation 5 Series had become softer than expected. Higher-performing models (especially with the V8 engine) can be very thirsty for fuel, too.
Watch for Water Leaks
Some owners have reported water leaks. Most have not. These can be a real pain to deal with and cause damage to your vehicle. When test-driving used BMW 5 Series models for consideration, approach each assuming it has a water leak until you have proof to the contrary.
To properly inspect, open the vehicle’s trunk and remove all items inside, including the trunk floor cover. After confirming the presence of a proper spare tire and requisite gear, carefully inspect the inner body of the vehicle in the lowest part of the trunk, ensuring that there’s no rust, standing water, debris, sand, mould, or water stains on the painted sheet metal beneath the trunk cover. If you see any, the model you are considering is likely suffering from one or more water leaks.
Next, open all four doors and remove the floor mat at each seating position. Check the carpeting beneath and around that area for signs of mould, water staining, dampness, or standing water, which can indicate a leak. If you detect a leak here, the likely culprit is the door seals or a problem or blockage within the drainage system built into the doors. In some cases, locating the door drainage holes and clearing them out with a toothpick or piece of wire is enough to prevent future leaks.
Note that rear door seals on some models may be prone to collecting water and freezing in the winter, causing the door seals to be partially dislodged or damaged when pulled open in a frozen state. This can result in additional leak issues, so check the weather seals around all doors carefully for signs of ripping, cracking, improper fitment, or damage. Consider regular lubrication of the rubber seals with an appropriate lubricant to fend off future issues. Here’s some more reading.
Check the ceiling liner for signs of water staining or dampness around the dome lights, sun visor mounting hardware, and overhead console. Move to the headlights and check carefully for signs of condensation, moisture, or cloudiness inside of the housings. Some owners have reported headlight housings that can accumulate water within, but many have not.
Some owners of this generation of the 5 Series have reported unwelcome vibrations in certain driving situations, particularly while cruising at highway speeds and beyond. On your test drive, be sure to quiet the car’s cabin and head to a stretch of highway. Set your cruising speed to 100 km/h for a moment, and feel for any pulsations, vibrations, or a buzzing sensation through the body or seats. Increase your speed in five km/h increments and repeat. Unexpected vibrations can have many sources, and some of them are expensive.
Commonly, a vibration like this is the result of an out-of-balance tire, tire damage, poor-quality replacement tires, or a sign your vehicle needs an alignment. In some cases, owners have had success in using a centring tool when installing wheels. In other situations, vibration-related problems may be more serious and require repairs or attention to driveline hardware. To avoid unpleasant surprises, be on the lookout for these sensations on your test drive and have a technician investigate if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Cooling System Checkup
Numerous 5 Series owners have reported low coolant warnings from their vehicles, especially models with the 3.0L and 4.4L engines. Members of the owners’ community say this is a well-documented problem.
On your test drive, pop the hood and look closely at the caps on the cooling system reservoirs, checking for any visible leakage. Check the area beneath the vehicle for signs of leaking coolant, too. Next, open the owner’s manual and look for instructions on how to check the engine coolant level. Follow them precisely, asking a technician to investigate further if the level is low.
In some cases, leaky caps or lines can allow coolant to drip out of the engine over time. In others, an air bubble trapped within the cooling system can work its way through over time, causing trouble. For maximum peace of mind, have a BMW-certified technician assess the cooling system in the 5 Series you’re considering before you buy, and remember that driving a vehicle with an overheated engine or a low-coolant warning can cause extensive engine damage.
Here’s a technical service bulletin (TSB) that outlines some of the problems BMW has identified with the cooling system and some instructions for technicians to address them. These include replacing certain rubber or plastic coolant lines with tougher metal cooling lines. For maximum peace of mind, check all service records to confirm that you’re buying a used 5 Series with all cooling system maintenance up to date and performed in a dealer setting.
Chips and Tunes
Some owners modify their used 5 Series with power programmers, chips, and tunes that alter factory-set engine operation to make more power. While many owners enjoy tuned-up 5 Series models on a daily basis, these modifications can cause excessive wear and engine damage that’s not covered by warranty.
Don’t underestimate your dealership’s ability to determine whether or not these unapproved software modifications have been applied previously, even if removed. If a previous owner has chipped the 5 Series you’re considering and a problem arises, it may not be covered by warranty. Remember: the warranty doesn’t cover damage or wear caused by the use of non-factory parts or software. Avoid buying a used 5 Series that’s modified for maximum peace of mind.
The BMW 5 Series you’re considering has an array of advanced safety, connectivity, and entertainment functions you’re probably excited to use, and it’s important to make sure everything is working properly on your test drive.
Before you set off, spend 20 minutes confirming that all door locks and latches are working properly, that both remote key fobs are fully functional, and that all hard buttons on the steering wheel, centre console, and forward dash are in proper working order, too.
Confirm heating, ventilation and massage functions (if equipped) on all seats, and check that the model you’re considering has an adequate number of functional charging points and USB ports for multimedia hookups. Check the navigation system for outdated mapping software and check the destination history carefully, avoiding a model with a long list of airports and hotels, as it may have had a previous life as a taxi or shuttle.
Check the exterior bumpers and windshield for signs of damage or poor-quality repairs, both of which can cause issues with radar and camera-based safety systems, whose hardware is commonly located just behind those items.
Air Conditioner Performance
Some owners have reported poor performance from their air conditioners; most have not. In many reported cases, the complaint involves a system that randomly stops delivering cold air for no apparent reason, or delivers cold air sporadically to the cabin. Culprits include a refrigerant leak, a faulty compressor or condenser, a clogged cabin air filter, or (commonly) a wonky HVAC sensor that may have trouble accurately reading cabin temperatures in extreme heat.
Air conditioner performance problems are often easy and inexpensive to track down and fix, but that’s not always the case. If you notice any strange behaviour from the system in the 5 Series you’re considering, have it seen by a technician before you buy.
If you’re buying a used seventh-Generation 5 Series, there’s a solid chance it’s subject to one or more safety recalls. To see which, if any, affect the specific 5 Series you’re considering, enter its VIN here. After buying a used 5 Series, contact BMW Canada to register as the vehicle’s new owner. This ensures that future recall notices will be sent to you in a timely fashion.
IIHS: Top Safety Pick +
NHTSA: Not Rated