2019 BMW 540I
The 2019 BMW 540I luxury sedan doesn’t skate on its past accomplishments. Two years removed from an overhaul for the mid-size sedan, this year’s version adds automatic emergency braking to its standard repertoire and deletes a diesel powertrain before it became even more of a leper in the States.
What’s left is a sedan that rates at 7.0 on our overall scale, a respectable score that’s tilted toward the more affordable end where luxury features like in-seat massagers, fire-breathing V-8s, and active driver assistants can’t reach
This year, the 5-Series is available in 530e, 530i, 540i, and M550i xDrive variants that climb the ladder of performance and price
Base models start around $54,000, but that’s not the whole story—the 530e qualifies for federal tax credits and some state rebates that could push the final price below $50,000.
The 5-Series hasn’t met an engine it doesn’t like yet. Base 530i and 530e models are fitted with a strong turbo-4 that makes 248 horsepower (the 530e pairs an electric motor and 9.2-kwh hybrid battery to make the same figure) and drive the rear or all four wheels. The 540i’s 335-hp turbo-6 is the next step up. Its power is more than ample with a 0-60-mph sprint of less than five seconds.
The M550i xDrive reminds us of M-powered cars of yore, except for one key difference. Its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 spins out more than 450 hp and rips off sub-four-second runs to 60 mph, but its standard all-wheel-drive system is a twist on those old, mean M machines.
In every case, the 5-Series gets a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and good, but sometimes light, steering.
The 2019 5-Series seats up to five adults, and it has a sizable trunk for their belongings. The cabin’s become more stylish and more comfortable; no 5-Series looks thrifty, though dark cabin colors can get busy with optional stitching and ambient lighting.
The IIHS called the 5-Series a Top Safety Pick+ last year and our opinion only improves this year: Automatic emergency braking is now standard.
A suite of driver assistance features is a spend-up extra ($1,700) and they’re helpful; the 5-Series can stay centered in its lane for nearly a minute without driver input.
That misses the point, though. Like other features in the 5-Series, the semi-autonomous drive feature complements the driver that’s already there. Likewise with the standard 16-way adjustable seats, two USB charge ports, 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay compatibility (free for the first year, but $80 for following years).