Review: 2017 BMW 530i is a showcase of excellence
The 5 Series is BMW's bread and butter, boasting the largest distribution for the automaker globally. The 530i may slot in the middle of the 5 Series range and is a satisfying combination of turbocharged goodness, luxurious comfort, and enjoyable driving experience. New Atlas gets behind the wheel of the 2017 BMW 530i.
The new 2017 BMW 5 Series debuted last year and is about 1.2 in (30.5 mm) longer and half an inch (12.7 mm) taller than the outgoing generation. A new platform means several changes for the car, including a new plug-in hybrid option (530e) along with the expected performance models (530i, 540i). The focus for the 5 Series remains on the driving experience, but new technology is at the fore as well, with a dizzying array of it available for this new 5.
The new exterior dimensions of the car come with some styling changes that keep the low, sleek look of previous 5 Series. The kidney grille and sloop-style hood are still present on this new-generation, but lines on the body have been more deeply honed for a fast-paced, forward-leaning appearance. The headlamps are also a bit narrower and opposed by the larger foglamp bezels beneath, which help narrow those lights and widen the grille for a more commanding look.
Inside, the 2017 5 Series continues the evolution of design shown outside, with a lower, thicker, but less pronounced dashboard adding a more airy feel up front, and the expansion of legroom for the back seats. These changes also help accommodate more technology behind the scenes.
Several driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, semi-automated parking, crash mitigation, gesture controls for the infotainment system, and app-integrated parking options are available. That remote-controlled parking option uses a phone app to show the vehicle's 360-degree camera view and allow the driver to park the car in a space from outside the vehicle. For tight spaces or garages with no entry-egress option for the driver, this can be a boon.
The 5 Series utilizes BMW's latest iDrive interface, which is controlled with a command knob at the driver's right hand. That knob allows relatively easy use of the infotainment, which is shown on a large, clear screen at the center of the dash. The knob itself has a touchpad on top that can be used to enter information for quicker response, such as letters and numbers for addresses. The system will also recognize whether the driver or front passenger is controlling the system and allow access accordingly, doing away with the annoying lockouts that occur when the vehicle is in motion.
Inside the 2017 BMW 530i offers plenty of room. The driver and front passenger are well-accommodated and in the rear seats adults can sit with comfort in the two outboard positions. Kids will also fit there, but sitting three booster or child safety seats across becomes a chore for parents who must wrestle the seat belts into place due to the high bolsters on the seat cushions. This also makes putting a seatbelt on around a booster chair more difficult, regardless of its position.
Cargo space in the 2017 530i is very good as well, standing at 18.7 cu ft (529.5 L). The split-fold rear seats and ski pass-through (all standard equipment) add to this cargo versatility.
There are three powertrain options for the BMW 5 Series, each getting its own model number to designate what's under the hood. The 530i comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's been turbocharged to output 248 hp (185 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque. Both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive are available (the latter being called "xDrive" in Bimmer nomenclature). The EPA rates this model at 27 mpg combined (8.7 l/100 km), with 24 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway (9.8, 6.9 l/100 km) in RWD and 26 mpg (9 l/100 km) combined for AWD.
Driving the 2017 530i xDrive in the real world, we beat the EPA's estimates by 1 mpg, matching the rear-wheel drive's economy numbers. We also found that the performance level of the 530i with its little 2.0 is more than adequate for the car, with peak torque and hp coming at relatively low RPM, giving the car a fast-paced feel. This combines with its natural agility on the road and excellent drive characteristics to deliver a wonderful driving experience overall.
The BMW 540i uses a larger inline-6 engine, also turbocharged, and the 530e model is a plug-in hybrid that combines performance and fuel economy in one package. We'll have more on that model coming soon.
In all, there is a lot to love about the 2017 BMW 530i. It's unlikely that buyers will get into a standard 530i model, of course, which starts with a manufacturer's suggested retail of about US$53,000. Most will be buying this car in the $60,000 range after adding technology packages. Our test model rang in just below that point and had most of the goodies included.
Compared to others in the luxury sedan market, though, the 5 Series tends to stand out for its combination of driving excellence, good fuel economy returns, and high-end technology options. And after our time behind the wheel, it was easy to see why.
Product Page: 2017 BMW 5 Series