2021 BMW 5 Series Adds Hybrid Power, Sharper Looks

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

BMW has updated the seventh-generation 5 Series for 2021, adding mild-hybrid options to its mid-size sedan.

Ahead of the 5 Series’ 49th year of production, BMW has given the mid-size sedan a refreshening. Headlining the changes is the availability of a plug-in hybrid version, while subtle exterior changes give the car a more up-to-date look.

Part of that look is a small increase in length. The rest of the dimensions are unchanged, but BMW has added 1.2 inches from nose to tail for “a more sweeping profile”, according to BMW. Easier to notice are the thinner headlights up front, sporting a simpler shape and two L-shaped DRLs on each side. The grille is bigger and brighter too—no surprise there—and now joined in the center like the 3 and 7 Series. The rear lights get smoked edges and new lighting elements that lend them a three-dimensional look.

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Moving inside, the 5 Series increases its screen real estate. The central infotainment screen is now 12.3 inches—up from 10.25—with a second screen for the gauge cluster measuring the same dimensions. The latest BMW voice recognition system is on board too. With a “hey BMW”, drivers can tell the car to lower the windows or adjust the climate control. It can also store specific rules, like automatically lowering the driver’s window when approaching an underground car park.

Navigation is now standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The nav system features 3D imaging of the surrounding area and vehicles, and uses a cloud-based BMW Maps system for real-time traffic data. Standard driver assists include lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high beams, blind spot warning, and speed limit info. Dynamic cruise control, plus a front cross-traffic alert and Extended Traffic Jam Assist—a Level 2 partially automated highway assist—is part of an option pack available on all models.

Speaking of the models, North Americans can expect a few changes under the 5 Series’ hood. Not with the entry-level 530i, mind: that remains a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, producing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. Power goes to the rear wheels, or all four in xDrive guise. The four-pot also does duty in the 530e and 530e xDrive. While its power is down to 181 hp in this application, a 107-horsepower electric drive unit joins it. Powering the latter is a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Combined system output sits at 288 hp and 310 lb-ft.

SEE ALSO: 2020 BMW 330i xDrive Review

A different, mild-hybrid system does duty in the six-cylinder 54oi and 540i xDrive models. The 48-volt system uses a second battery, harvesting power under deceleration and redistributing it later. The system also makes gas engine start-stop operations smoother, as the straight six can switch off once the car’s speed is under 9 mph during breaking. The 540i’s coasting function also shuts off the engine at any speed between 16 and 99 mph in Eco Pro or Comfort driving modes.

Sitting at the top of the pile, at least until an updated M5 bows, is the M550i xDrive. It retains its 523-horsepower, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine, and is capable of rocking up to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. The M550i, along with every 2021 5 Series, uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Orders are now open for the 2021 mid-size sedan, which starts at $55,195 for the base 530i, including $995 in destination. BMW expects to begin shipping the first cars in July.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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