What's the used BMW 5 Series estate like?
There’s a knotty question that’s always puzzled petrolheads: what used car would you recommend that fulfils all needs? Many have pitched their tent in the Range Rover camp, because of its all-weather capabilities. However, the BMW 5 Series can be found with the benefits of four-wheel drive on most models. So with that, its immense practicality, economical engines, excellent driving manners and classy image; the current Touring (estate car in BMW parlance) could finally earn it the title of 'all the car you’ll ever need'.
There are three petrol and three diesel engines to choose from; the petrols range from a sprightly 182bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder (badged 520i) to a lusty 335bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder (540i), and the diesel lineup includes 2.0-litre four-cylinder units with 187bhp and 228bhp, plus a 261bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder.
Equipment levels compared with BMWs of old are actually very generous, and you'd never call the standard SE version 'entry-level'. Every 5 Series has 17in alloy wheels, leather trim, cruise control, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate, and a 10.2in infotainment system with DAB radio and sat-nav. M Sport has bigger 18in alloys, firmer suspension and sportier exterior and interior touches.
While the 5 Series Touring shares the same rear-wheel drive chassis as the 5 Series saloon, its additional weight means it isn’t as sharp to drive. The steering is surprisingly vague off-centre, and the car doesn’t find as much front-end grip as some of its rivals. However, if you’re after comfort, the 5 Series excels. In examples fitted with adaptive dampers, the ride is particularly good at isolating you from the very worst expansion joints and road scars. The interior is also supremely well isolated from wind and road noise, and the engine’s hum fades away into the background at speed.
If you’re buying an estate you'll want to know how much stuff you can carry, and the 5 Series Touring has one of the biggest boots in its class. The standard 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats and absence of a loading lip mean even oddly shaped items are a doddle to fit. The luggage area is nice and wide, so a buggy should go in there sideways.
All passengers should find the 5 Series Touring to be most accommodating. There’s plenty of adjustment up front for the driver and front passenger, while those in the rear get plenty of head and leg room. The middle seat passenger in the rear will have to clamber over a tall central tunnel, but three adults across the bench is a possibility, even if there will be some rubbing of shoulders.
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