Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A 2021 BMW 530i is shown from the front after leaving a dealer that advertised having a used BMW 5 Series for sale.

How to Snag the Hottest BMW 5 Series

BMW has made its way into automotive history by releasing a steady stream of beautiful and powerful cars. Elegant exteriors, potent powertrains, and the refined touch of German engineering all work together like a symphony to create one impressive model after another. BMW is a “treat yourself” brand of car, purchased as a celebration and driven with sheer delight. While BMW distinguishes itself across all segments, the brand’s sedans really stand out. One of its largest and highest-performing sedans is the 5 Series. Drivers looking for the thrill of a BMW, but the chill of a lower price tag, should consider exploring a used BMW 5 Series for sale.

The sky-high standards at BMW mean that even an older 5 Series will still pack a punch. With everything these days costing a small fortune, why not go the used or Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) route without sacrificing style and performance? Join us as we dive into the history of this iconic model and take a look at the latest generations of the 5 Series. The 5 Series plays host to exhilarating performance and undeniable comfort, making for a used car that deserves a loving second home and many more years of turning heads on roadways.

What Is the 5 Series?

The first generation of the 5 Series debuted in 1972 and is known as the E12. It would spend a few years as a Europe-only model before making its way to the United States in 1975. As a close competitor to the Mercedes-Benz W123, the four-door BMW 530i was praised for its roomy interior and smooth 3.0L straight-six engine that produced 176 hp. The initial 530i featured a four-speed manual transmission and clocked a 0-60 mph time of 9.3 seconds, a remarkable feat in the 1970s.

With the success of the first American version, BMW released a new 5 Series trim in 1979: the 528i. The 528i featured a smaller 2.8L inline-six with a catalytic converter and an oxygen sensor, improving overall performance and fuel economy. By the 1980s, new models were equipped with a five-speed manual transmission that decreased the 0-60 mph time to 7.9 seconds.

It wasn’t long until BMW launched the second generation of the 5 Series. The E28 came outfitted with a sleeker, more modern cabin and a fresh 2.7L inline-six. While the second generation delivered on efficiency, it lacked the enticing speeds of the original version. To correct the acceleration deficit, the 533i trim was launched in 1983 with a shiny, new 3.2L engine and 182 hp. Plus, BMW shook things up by releasing a diesel option, the 524td, that sold for two years.

The third and fourth generations included refreshed styling that made the 5 Series look similar to the already successful 7 Series. With a focus on high-end features and better engines, the 525i, 528i, 530i, and 540i were thrown into the mix, along with the ultra-high performance M5 variant. As the models advanced, so did the engines. The 1997 540i came out blazing, with a 4.4L V8 and 282 hp, while the M5 produced a staggering 394 hp from a 4.9L V8.

As the 5 Series continued to evolve over the years, it established itself as the top executive sedan. While it’s not built as a sports car, like a Corvette or Porsche 911, it performs like one. The body style has changed with the times, but the designers at BMW have remained laser-focused on producing a car that’s elegant and stylish without ever being gaudy. After all, the Corvette and Porsche drivers were never the target audience. BMW designed the 5 Series as a daily driver that’s sophisticated and fun, practical and powerful, the hallmark of what a luxury sedan should be.

A green 2021 BMW M550i is shown from the side while parked in a driveway.

Benefits of Buying Used

There is a plethora of reasons drivers choose to buy used cars over new models. With new vehicles losing value as soon as they are driven off the lot, buying used eliminates that uncomfortable jolt of sudden depreciation. Buying used also introduces a new segment of buyers to an otherwise unaffordable part of the market. Plus, selling used cars also benefits dealers, allowing them to introduce new customers to brands and turn them into lifelong loyalists. With many dealers offering Certified Pre-Owned BMWs, drivers can rest assured that their gently used vehicles undergo rigorous inspections and have warranties that keep them covered.

The savings from buying used go beyond the lower sticker price. It’s not just the initial depreciation that buyers of used cars get to avoid. Buying a used car also means enjoying a lower insurance premium, as insurance companies calculate policy premiums based on the age and value of the vehicle. There’s also an environmental benefit. Buying a used car is essentially recycling since you are giving an existing car a second chance instead of ordering a new vehicle off the assembly line. Additionally, since most states charge registration fees based on the purchase price of a car, buying a used car with a lower price tag means saving on annual registration fees.

So, Which 5 Series?

There are decades worth of used BMW 5 Series models out there, so which will be the best fit? If you’re driven to own a used car that still feels like new, a seventh-generation 5 Series could be a great fit. The seventh generation, or G30, refers to the cars built from 2017 to the present. One of these vehicles will have all the cost savings of buying used but closely resemble the cars being built today. Collectors will marvel at the older 5 Series models from the 1970s and 1980s, but those cars are increasingly difficult to find. For optimum technology and performance, we lean towards a seventh-generation 5 Series.

A close-up of the charging port on a blue 2021 BMW 530e is shown.

In 2018, BMW added the 530e plug-in hybrid, rated at 29 MPG combined, with 16 miles of electric range. The efficient and staggeringly fast 530e features a turbocharged inline-four engine with a 9.2 kWh lithium-ion battery for a combined 248 hp. An eDrive button allows you to operate the 530e in three modes that manage the battery. This feature enables the driver to determine how much battery should be saved for later.

The seventh generation 5 Series offers several versions that are now rare and will likely retain some value in the eyes of collectors. In 2018, for one year and one year only, BMW released the diesel-powered 540d. That same year, the brand discontinued the 5 Series Gran Turismo and replaced it with the M550i, which houses a powerful 456 hp twin-turbo V8.

What’s Next?

If you’ve been convinced of the value of a used 5 Series, it’s time to start hunting. Whether snagging a Certified Pre-Owned model from the latest seventh generation or scouring automotive land for a vintage beauty, scoring a used BMW 5 Series is the smartest way to get one of the hottest cars. BMW’s evolving technology inside the cabin and under the hood makes for a model that captivates its drivers and keeps them coming back for more. Regardless of the year, any BMW 5 Series is a beautiful addition to any garage for any driver.

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