Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Broadly speaking, the BMW 5 Series is priced a little lower than its closest rivals, the Audi A6, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class. The 520d (a mild hybrid 2.0-litre diesel) is by far the most popular version and emits as little as 131g/km of CO2. That's quite a bit better than the A6 40 TDI or E220d, if you have an eye on benefit-in-kind tax.
Then again, the 530e is the best for company car users, with CO2 emissions of just 32g/km. However, when the battery pack is depleted and you're running on the petrol engine alone, you're likely to see lower fuel economy than you would in a diesel; we managed around 33.1mpg on test.
The desirability of the BMW badge helps keep other costs down. Resale values are among the best in the class, so if you're a private buyer you'll get back a decent chunk of the list price when selling your car on. Leasing and PCP finance rates are usually highly competitive, too, and discounts are available if you're prepared to haggle. Or, to avoid haggling and get a good discount, check out our New Car Buying pages.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level SE trim is the one we’d go for. It’s the cheapest and still comes with plenty of luxuries. These include leather seat trim, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 17in alloy wheels (18in on the more powerful engines), along with the infotainment system, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors we mentioned earlier. We'd add a few options, though, such as the adaptive suspension, front seat lumbar adjustment and split-folding rear seats (BMW calls that the 'Through Loading System').
M Sport trim is extremely popular, thanks largely to its more aggressive body styling and bigger alloys. You don't get a lot of extra substance for the added cost, but you do get a much stiffer ride.
In the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, BMW finished 21st out of 31 manufacturers – way below Lexus, one below Audi, but above Jaguar and Mercedes. That was for the brand overall, but when singled out, the current 5 Series has proved pleasingly reliable for its owners.
Thankfully, should something go wrong, all 5 Series' come with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which is similar to the cover provided by most of its rivals.
Safety and security
All models come with a minimum of six airbags and a host of electronic driver aids, including stability control. Automatic emergency braking (AEB), with pedestrian detection, is also standard to reduce the chances of you accidentally running into the car (or person) in front.
Optional safety kit includes lane departure warning, automatic high-beam assist for the headlights, a driver fatigue detector and speed limit recognition. We’d recommend considering the Driving Assistant option, which bundles together all of the key active safety aids for a reasonable price. In 2017, the 5 Series scored the full five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety, but it had a poor score for driver leg protection and weaker scores for child chest protection than either the Volvo S90 or Mercedes E-Class. Pedestrian protection was deemed better for the 5 Series, though.
An alarm, engine immobiliser, deadlocks (which prevent the doors being opened, even if a window is smashed) and locking wheel nuts are fitted to every 5 Series to ward off thieves. Security expert Thatcham awarded the car five out of five for its resistance to being stolen and four out of five for its resistance to being broken into.
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