The facelifted 5-series lineup still includes the four-cylinder 530i, six-cylinder 540i, V-8 M550i, and hybrid 530e models.
BMW is subjecting its 5-series to a comprehensive if modest facelift that’s designed to steal the thunder of Mercedes’s somewhat more aggressively restyled E-Class and the still-fresh Audi A6. Set for a launch in mid-2020 as a 2021 model, the lineup will again comprise the 248-horsepower 530i, the 335-horsepower 540i, the 523-horsepower M550i, and the 288-horsepower 530e plug-in hybrid.
All models will continue to be available with rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, called xDrive, except for the AWD-only M550i xDrive. The even more powerful M5 will be updated in the not-too-distant future, mirroring the changes to these more pedestrian 5-series models.
At first glance, the facelifted 5-series looks more angular and slightly more angry, its LED headlights featuring sharp creases. The protruding grille looks more assertive as well, and while the headlights gain L-shaped lighting elements, the same elements now disappear from the taillights. The exhaust pipes now all look the same regardless of engine—keep the badges on, people!
Taller and wider, the new kidney grilles emphasize their kinship with the 7-series and the X7 without putting on as dominant a show. The side view keeps the curious character line that turns into the C-pillar. And the M550i gets treated, like before, to bronze trim. Altogether, we like the new look, and the 5-series still looks more nimble and sportier than the more portly competition.
Inside, visual changes are modest, with new contrasting stitching as the most noteworthy improvement. However, the driver-assistance and infotainment systems have noticeably improved, with new cloud-based maps and a plethora of further options that do their best to distract you while potentially saving you from the consequences of being distracted.
While the 530i’s turbo-four engine remains unchanged, the 540i’s inline-six powerplant gains a 48-volt hybrid system that can offer a slight electric boost to overcome any turbo lag. It should also improve fuel economy slightly and smooth the auto start/stop function somewhat. The 530e plug-in-hybrid, powered by a detuned version of the 530i’s four-banger, gets a far more substantial boost from a 107-horsepower electric motor that is integrated in its eight-speed ZF automatic. But perhaps our favorite engine remains the recently upgraded 4.4-liter V-8 in the M550i; at 523 horsepower, it comes close to the M5 while exhibiting more polite manners.
The updated 5-series starts at $55,195 for the 530i sedan, $58,195 for the 530e hybrid, $60,445 for the 540i, and $77,795 for the M550i xDrive. BMW says that the 2021 5-series models will reach U.S. dealerships in July 2020.
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