BMW’s 5 Series has long been a favorite executive sedan. We try the new 2017 530i to see if it is still the benchmark.
What is it?
The BMW 530i is a large sedan. This is a car with no compromises on size, yet, it isn’t a bigger-than-personal-sized car like the 7 Series can be. The 5 Series competes with vehicles like the Mercedes E Class, the Audi A6, and the Lexus GS.
Pricing and trims
Like all BMW vehicle segments, the 5 Series has many trims. The base car starts at about $ 52,000 with a four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. BMW can add all-wheel drive and more powerful six and eight cylinder engines to boost the price point to above $90K.
Our test car started as a base model with an MSRP of $ 51,200. However, after options and other charges, our 530i had a price of $ 74,160. That is about $2K higher than the starting point of the 550i xDrive AWD, twin-turbo V8 in theory. However, with all BMWs, and German luxury cars, in particular, one must alway leave significant room for options. Even at $74,160, our test car didn’t have a heated steering wheel. An option we have seen on recent test vehicles costing less than $24K.
Our 2017 BMW 530i has every manner of active safety system. And we must add, they were not the bare-bones systems we sometimes find on our test vehicles either. Every one of the systems, such as the back-up camera system, forward collision prevention system and rear-cross traffic alert were all premium, sophisticated, and offered real world advantages over some of the more basic systems of their type.
IIHS has not yet tested the new 530i for 2017. However, the previous model, the 2016 car, was rated Superior for active safety. Unfortunately, that car did not earn a Good rating on the small frontal overlap test. We suspect this new model will earn top scores once it is tested.
The “30i” part of this vehicle’s model number is BMW’s way of signaling it has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 248 hp. Although a four-cylinder engine may have seemed out of place in such a car five years ago, things have changed and it is common today. The main upside is the 27 MPG combined EPA estimated fuel economy rating.
In normal driving, we found the 530i to be very enjoyable and quick. In Comfort Mode, the 530i never feels underpowered and a burst of speed is easy to call up with a stab at the power pedal. There is no turbo lag anymore in BMW’s 2.0-liter turbo. The only time one might wish for a larger engine is in some situations where a bit more thrust is desired for a hill or an on-ramp. The engine is plenty powerful once it catches its first breath and downshifts, but a larger engine might have the torque to pull without any fuss. BMW says this car will run from 0-60 MPH in 6 seconds. We don’t doubt it, but it will be working very hard to do that. The power and acceleration in the 530i does not feel effortless like it does in some more powerful luxury touring cars.
The 2017 BMW 530i uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is smooth-shifting and well-matched to the small turbo engine. Sport Mode puts the transmission on notice that the driver wants the car to operate in the engine’s higher rev band and makes the 530i feel fast around town. We found little use for Eco Pro given that our car told us we averaged over 30 MPG in mixed driving.
Ride and handling
The biggest driving advantage that the BMW 530i has over less expensive sedans with its level of performance and half its price point, for example, a V6 Honda Accord Touring, is the steering, handling, and driving comfort. The BMW 530i is superb. The car drives smaller than it is and the steering is perfection in normal use and also spirited, but sane driving. The great part is you don’t have to flog this car to sense the benefits of this excellent steering. It is better in the driveway, better around town, and better on back roads at speed. This is the plus side of having a rear-wheel drive car. The front tires can focus on steering and leave the power delivery to the back two wheels.
Comfort is also outstanding. The super-low profile run-flat tires of the 530i with the M Sport package our car came with do not spoil the smooth and comfortable ride over broken roads. On the highway, the 530i feels amazingly smooth and serene. Like Honda’s Sensing package, the BMW lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control conspire to offer limited autopilot on the highway. The BMW can steer for you as long as you maintain contact with the wheel. We found the package worked better than most brands’ and was not overly sensitive to traffic merging into our lane. BMW calls the system Active Driving Plus and it is an option. Unlike many reviewers, we feel the $22K in added options actually define this car. We would not suggest a base 530i would offer anything like this experience.
The front seats of the 530i are automotive works of art. They are trimmed in fine leather (optional) and adjust in so many ways we are not sure we found them all in a week of testing. For example, one can recline just the upper portion of the seat backs. Or use the power adjustable headrests to find the perfect setting. In our first few days of driving, we fiddled with the settings a lot. Each time we made a small adjustment the car asked us in the infotainment menus if we wanted to update the set point for seat 1. Why, yes we do, and thank you for asking! Many small details like this one are why we feel the BMW 530i has a place in the market above premium cars.
Rear seat space is ample, plush and capable of carrying two in comfort. Since the BMW 530i iss a rear-wheel drive car, there is a hump in the center footwell. Kids won’t mind that center seat.
The trunk of the BMW 530i is so deep horizontally (towards the back seats) we had trouble reaching groceries that we put inside. It was the deepest trunk in a car this size we can remember. It is also large in its depth vertically since there is no spare to store. Our tester had the optional power-operated trunk lid which we found handy.
Infotainment and controls
The 2017 BMW 530i we tested had multiple options which impacted the infotainment system. Nav is included, but our car had the optional Bowers and Wilkins sound system, a $4,200 option. It also came with the optional gesture controls which we tested extensively and loved.
The screen is large in all dimensions, but its length allows for multiple screen views such as Nav and audio to be displayed at once. In fact, three views can fit in a compressed format. The iDrive controller on the console is easy to use and understand. During unexpected traffic delays, the real-time traffic display on the map worked as well as any app we have tested. In total, we found the system to be very impressive and not overly complex to use. We would rate it higher than the Mercedes and Lexus systems.
Ownership Experience & Value
BMW offers four full years of service as part of the MSRP of the 530i. Mercedes, Tesla, and Lexus would have you pay thousands extra for that. In our personal experience, we can also attest to the fact that this is a real offer. BMW has designed its vehicles to last up to twelve months between service intervals, and when the car is in for service wiper blades and other small items are replaced with no fuss and no charges. Only Jaguar can rival the value of the maintenance BMW includes in its base price.
The BMW 530i has an almost shocking sticker price when fully equipped. We asked ourselves when we took delivery of this test car if any vehicle this size could justify such a price tag. The easy answer is “yes.” Everything about the 530i is superior in a way to most mainstream models’ top trims. In simple to identify ways the BMW 530i also rises above premium models. Only an individual shopper can assign a value to these advantages, but we can say without reservation that the differences are tangible.
The 2017 BMW 530i is still the benchmark of excellence for executive sedans. BMW combines easy to identify advantages in almost every aspect of this car without the hassles of an overly complex infotainment system.
Does this car live up to BMW’s bold “Ultimate driving machine” tag-line? It depends on how you drive. If you want a race car in disguise, this is not your best 5 Series choice. However, if you want a perfectly balanced sedan built with supreme comfort and driving dynamics that make being in it a pleasure, then look no further.
2017 BMW 530i Sedan
Base price: $ 52,195
Price as tested $74,160, including $995 destination charge:
Options: (Total Options Cost $ 21,965)
Mocha Nappa Leather: $1,000 & Multi-Color Seats $ 750 & Heated Seats (Front) $500
Driving Assistance Package & Driver Assistance Plus II: $1,800 + $1,700
Lighting Package: $1,050
M Sport Package $2,600 & 19″ M Sport Wheel $ 700
Premium Package $2,300
Integral Active Steering $1,150
Power Tailgate $600 & Power Rear Sunshade $575
Bowers & Wilkins Sound System $4,200 & Apple Car Play $300 & Gesture Control $190
- Serene Driving Experience
- Tangible Sense Of Quality Inside
- High-tech, but Usable Infotainment
- No Spare Tire
- Lack of Heated Steering Wheel At The Price Point
- Crowded Phone Storage Area In Console