We were left unimpressed with the seventh-generation BMW 5-Series back when it launched for 2017. It was more luxury and less sport than we wanted, and we yearned for the days the 5 had things the other way around. Now that a few years have passed, BMW has taken the wraps off the refreshed 2021 BMW 5-Series, and, guess what? It arguably looks more lux and less sporting than ever. That doesn’t mean the changes aren’t upgrades, though.
The entire 5-Series lineup undergoes a thorough makeover for the 2021 model year. The most obvious changes are to its bodywork. The grille, unsurprisingly, swells slightly—now wider and taller than before. The design of the car’s standard LED headlights now brings its looks in line with those of the smaller 3-Series. All 5-Series models get new taillights and tailpipes, too.
Light changes to the rest of the bodywork make the 5er more aerodynamic. BMW claims that in 530e guise the new car has a coefficient of drag as low as 0.27. The top of the normal 5-series range, the M550i, now gets BMW’s aerodynamic kit as standard equipment.
Underneath the visual upgrades lie some key changes to the car’s powertrains. Six-cylinder models feature 48-volt, mild-hybrid tech. Like many others, the system pairs the straight-six with an electric motor that improves acceleration response and efficiency. The 48-volt system also brings a more seamless start-stop feature and allows the car to coast with the engine completely off—not just disconnected from the drivetrain—at speeds up to 99 miles per hour.
The 2021 BMW 530e also gets some new engine tech that boosts overall power output. The 181-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine is augmented by a new, 107-hp electric motor. The powertrain pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to its new motor, the 530e models gain an extra 40 horses over the previous model, bringing total system output to 288 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque.
Most 5-Series models push power to the rear wheels and offer all-wheel drive as an option (known as xDrive in BMW parlance). The lone exception is the M550i, which is all-wheel-drive only. Other options available across the range include BMW’s M Sport package, which offers new springs and dampers that are turned for more spirited driving. A clever adaptive suspension system is available on the 540i that monitors the level of damping at each wheel and attempts to provide a nice balance between handling and comfort.
Inside, the 5 benefits from a number of detail changes that make it even more of a tech tour-de-force. All models get a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment setup. In-dash navigation, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, comes standard. Faux-leather trim comes standard for those who prefer to forgo cowhides.
As you might come to expect from any new car in the modern era, the new 5 comes with a number of standard safety systems, with even more available as options. Lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a number of other driver aids are included on all models. Buyers can also opt for the Driving Assistance Plus package, which adds adaptive cruise control, traffic-jam assist that offers hands-free driving in traffic, and front cross-traffic alert.
Pricing for the 2021 BMW 5-Series starts at $55,195, and it goes up from there. The 530e starts at $58,195, while all-wheel drive is an extra $2,000 (same goes for the entry-level 530i). The six-cylinder 540i starts at $60,445 and all-wheel-drive adds $2,300 to the bill. The range tops out with the $77,795 M550i xDrive. Get your checkbooks ready, because BMW will start taking orders for the new and improved 5er this month.