Most will see a mid-size luxury sedan, but the 2018 BMW 5-Series is more than that.
Aside from the hardware that powers the car, helps drive the car, and is the car, the new 5-Series is more about what you don’t see.
It’s one of BMW’s most advanced vehicles. It can park itself without a driver, take pictures of its own surroundings without a driver on hand, can start itself via a mobile app even when the driver’s not present–if that’s what the driver wants it to do.
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It also sports some of BMW’s most advanced engines and transmissions, whether augmented by battery power or hitched to M-worthy engineering.
The 2018 BMW 5-Series earns an 8.0 out of 10 on our overall scale thanks to its features and comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, the 5-Series covers more ground. Two models have been added to the lineup, the fuel-saving 530e plug-in hybrid and the tire-shredding M550i xDrive. A new uber-quick M5 is due soon, but we cover that separately. A tall-riding fastback branded as the 6-Series GT is loosely based on the 5-Series.
Regardless of model, the 5-Series takes an evolutionary approach to styling compared to its predecessor. The new 5-Series has a sharper nose and more tapered profile along the sides.
The interior will be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s driven a 5-Series in the last decade, aside from the updated tech. The 5-Series can be trimmed in rich leather and increasingly expensive interior materials, although some combinations can be visually distracting. A sharp 8.8-inch LCD screen has been planted in front of the driver inside the instrument cluster, which resolves one of our biggest gripes about the lo-fi screen from the outgoing model.
A 10.2-inch touchscreen is perched atop the dash and becomes the nerve farm for all things 5-Series. Aside from the standard infotainment controls, the touchscreen serves as the hub for BMW’s push for connected-car technology, dubbed Connect+. The services range from trip notification to Microsoft Exchange calendar sync, to email and entertainment. It’s an ambitious push for the car company—one that we don’t yet understand—with an eye on the future for self-driving cars.
The plug-in hybrid 530e starts at $53,375, including destination, and serves as the de facto entry model when federal rebates are considered. At that price, it’s a worthy entry against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S90, and Audi A6. In our limited drives with the 530e, we found the electric motors blended seamlessly with the turbo-4 combustion engine, and its all-electric range reached up around 16 miles in stop-and-go Chicago traffic.
Like any modern BMW, not much is included in the base price regardless of engine. Active safety features such as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors can easily tack on $5,000 to the bottom line, and we’ve driven turbo-6-powered 540i models with $25,000 in optional upgrades. A light touch can keep some cars reasonably priced, but maxing out a 5-Series requires a strong stomach.
We’ll update this space after we’ve driven the 2018 BMW M550i xDrive.