New for 2015
The BMW 5 Series receives minor changes for the 2015 model year, making four options standard features including a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, enhanced Bluetooth, hands-free keyless access (on 550i models), and LED foglights. A 30th anniversary edition M5 (just 30 examples will be sold in the U.S.) makes 600 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.
The BMW 5 Series is available as a midsize luxury sedan and four-door hatchback (the 6 Series is a 5 Series-based coupe, convertible, and coupe-like four-door). The 5 Series offers a range of versatility and performance, encompassing variants as different as the 240-hp 528i to the 560-hp M5. The 5 Series fits above the 3 Series line, but below the 7 Series full-size sedan.
The 2015 BMW 5 Series is powered by six different engines, three transmissions (a seven-speed automatic is unique to the M5), and has an available all-wheel-drive system called xDrive.
Model: 528i, 528i xDrive
Engine and Transmission: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 – eight-speed auto
Power: 240 hp/260 lb-ft
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 24/34 mpg (auto) – 22/33 mpg (xDrive, auto)
Model: 535i, 535i xDrive, 535i Gran Turismo, 535i xDrive Gran Turismo
Engine and Transmission: Turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 – eight-speed auto or six-speed manual
Power: 300 hp/300 lb-ft
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 20/30 mpg (auto/manual and Gran Turismo/auto) – 20/29 mpg (xDrive, auto) – 18/26 mpg (Gran Turismo, xDrive, auto)
Model: ActiveHybrid 5
Engine and Transmission: Turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6/electric motor – eight-speed auto
Power: 335 hp (combined)
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 23/30 mpg (auto)
Model: 535d, 535d xDrive
Engine and Transmission: Turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 – eight-speed auto
Power: 255 hp/413 lb-ft
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 26/38 mpg (auto) – 26/37 mpg (xDrive, auto)
Model: 550i, 550i xDrive, 550i Gran Turismo, 550i xDrive Gran Turismo
Engine and Transmission: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 – eight-speed auto
Power: 445 hp/480 lb-ft
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 17/25 mpg (auto) – 16/24 mpg (xDrive, auto and Gran Turismo and xDrive Gran Turismo)
Model: M5, M5 30th anniversary edition
Engine and Transmission: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 – seven-speed auto or six-speed manual
Power: 560-600 hp/500-516 lb-ft
EPA-rated fuel efficiency: 14/20 mpg (auto) – 15/22 mpg (manual)
Notable features include adaptive LED headlights, active blind-spot detection, a full color head-up display, a 10.2-inch infotainment/navigation screen, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, a parallel parking assist system, surround-view camera system for parking assistance, and a forward-facing night-vision camera.
The 2015 BMW 5 Series received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and in IIHS testing received three ratings of good and one of marginal in the small overlap front test (the highest possible rating is good).
What We Think
The 2015 BMW 5 Series covers a lot of ground in its various forms, and is a little hard to keep up with (literally in the M5’s case). Starting with the base engine, the turbo 2.0-liter I-4 in the 528i models, we thought it was capable, and with its wide turbo-enabled powerband we didn’t miss the power of a straight-six.
Refinement is more the word, because once the revs start climbing, you can very clearly hear the engine. What you hear, though, is all sweetness and light until about 6000 rpm: up until that point, the sound is unmistakably four-cylinder, just with all the bad bits removed. It sounds throaty, purposeful, and completely and totally in line with what the buyer of a base-model BMW 5 Series would expect.
Stepping up to the traditional (layout only) turbocharged I-6 we were impressed by the fuel economy we were seeing (right on track with the EPA, around 30 mpg on the highway, at an average of 24 mpg) for the performance we got. In our Four Seasons Wrap Up review of a 2011 BMW 535i we said, “Fuel economy is spectacular, power is plentiful, and you save $10,100. Why would you want the 550i?” Our only complaints centered on the handling. We suggest going with the stock 18-inch wheels if you live somewhere with less-than-perfect streets. BMW has also integrated electrically assisted power steering to help improve fuel economy, and despite its best efforts (surprisingly good, especially considering how badly other automakers have messed this main piece up. Also, no pun intended) the steering doesn’t communicate the road surface to the driver’s hands well. The action is “direct and well weighted,” but is unfortunately disconnected. Despite the complaint, it was hardly unanimous, as many thought this generation of 5 Series had struck the right balance.
If building an efficient luxury sedan that could melt highway miles was BMW’s mission, it has been accomplished.
BMW hasn’t designed the ActiveHybrid for ultimate fuel economy, but rather sport first then efficiency. We figured it was the performance of a turbo-six with the economy of a turbo-four. It drives exactly like a 535i, but with fuel economy gains around town over the non-assisted I-6. Our highest praise in a Driven review of a 2012 ActiveHybrid 5 was that “it doesn’t drive like a hybrid.” Buyers looking for fuel economy above all else should look at the miserly turbo-diesel, which easily surpasses its gas-swilling stablemates. In a Driven comparison between a 2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo and a Porsche Panamera S we praised the GT for its incredible power and space, but faulted it for ever-present body roll.
The 2015 BMW M5 changes a number of things about the base 5 that detract a little from the refinement, but add to the character of the high-performance M model. The rear subframe is rigidly attached, which results in a ride we called “gritty” where you hear the differential working. One complaint we noted in a Driven review of a 2012 BMW M5 was the presence of significant turbo-lag from the pair attached to the V-8. The updated version of the engine (current S63TU versus replaced S63 in the X5 M) hesitates for about a second before providing power, unlike the previous engine where, “the turbos were among the most responsive [we’ve] ever experienced.”
This M5 is a far better M5 than the last one (which was always a bit too high-strung and sterile for its own good.) It’s got almost all of the refinement of the current 5 Series, all of the tech features, gorgeous styling, and elegant interior. And then it’s got razor-sharp handling and the best steering we’ve seen in a 5 Series in a long time, if not ever. And then it’ll rip that smile off your face with outrageous acceleration.
- Fuel economy of turbodiesel
- 600-hp 30th Anniversary Edition M5
- Capable turbo I-4
You Won’t Like
- Buying the hybrid because you want better fuel economy
- Can get pricey with options
- Rough ride with 19-inch wheels
- Mercedes Benz E-Class
- Audi A6
- Cadillac CTS
- Hyundai Genesis
- Lexus GS