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2021 BMW 5-Series Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 BMW 5-Series Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: 530i vs 530e and 540i vs M550i

What 2021 BMW 5-Series Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

The 2021 BMW 5 Series showcases its class in so many ways. From its handsome interior to its stylish exterior, the BMW 5 Series looks like a luxury vehicle from any angle. BMW has made a number of powertrains available with the 5 Series, and this helps the sedan appeal to a wide range of customers.

BMW has continued to innovate and push boundaries. With the 2021 5 Series, the company has made the infotainment system bigger, included more driver-assist technologies, and freshened up a few aesthetic details. Those include more angular headlights, a grille that stands tall and almost sticks out of the front of the vehicle, and accent stitching in the interior.

As a mid-size sedan, the BMW 5 Series provides a comfortable ride. Generous leg room in the first row means that everyone will be fighting to be the front passenger. While it's not the most spacious of spaces, the second row still has over 36 inches of leg room. Three people can easily fit in the back and can settle in on a long road trip.

Most of the differences between the trims of the 5 Series are related to the powertrain. Other differences have to do with the number of upscale amenities found throughout the car. This guide will go over both types of differences in detail to better inform prospective customers as they decide which BMW 5 Series to choose.

Price Tip
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Compare the 2021 BMW 5 Series 530i vs 530e Trims. What is the Difference?

First of all, these trims can either have a rear-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive configuration. The all-wheel system is called xDrive, and it's always engaged. Under normal conditions, most of the power would be sent to the rear wheels, with the rest being delivered to the front wheels. When needed, that power can be redistributed. It takes a fraction of a second for the BMW to shift the way to sends power to the wheels, and it all depends on which tires have the most grip.

The 530i uses a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. As a TwinPower Turbo model, this engine is quite powerful for its size. It can output nearly 250 horsepower to give the car a lot of kick. Torque is a little more than 250 pound-feet.

Enhancing efficiency is the engine's automatic start/stop feature. This allows the engine to turn itself off when the car is stopped for at least a few seconds. When the driver takes pressure of the brakes and is ready to move again, the engine can start up by itself. The transition is seamless.

The 530i can achieve about 25 miles per gallon in the city and approximately 33 miles per gallon on the highway. With all-wheel drive, fuel efficiency drops by a few miles per gallon.

Though the 530e does have the same type of engine as the 530i, it's very different in terms of efficiency. This is because it uses an electric motor in conjunction with the gas-powered engine, and this cuts down significantly on gasoline consumption. It's estimated to have a MPGe of approximately 64. With this increase in fuel economy, there's no sacrifice in power. In fact, the 530e has more capability than the 530i, with 288 horsepower. The driver gets to control how the car balances efficiency with performance, as there is an AUTO eDrive mode, a MAX eDrive mode, and a mode in which the battery can be used more sparingly.

To charge the electric motor, one can simply hook up the car to any power outlet, using the cable that's provided with the 530e. Alternatively, there's the option to install a BMW i Wallbox if anyone wants to decrease the amount of time it takes to get a full charge. These next numbers are approximate but give a good idea of just how advantageous the special Wallbox is. By using a 240-volt system instead of a traditional 120-volt system, it could cut charging time from ten to three hours. Note that if the battery charge is depleted, the twin turbo engine can handle everything. People can still be travel off the beaten path into places where electric charging stations might not be abundantly available.

Both the trims have eight-speed automatic transmissions. To give the BMW more of a sports car feel, there is a sport shifting mode as well as a manual shift mode. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel are convenient to use. On the non-hybrid 5 Series, there is an ECO PRO drive mode that boosts efficiency. The other drive modes are Comfort and Sport.

On the exterior and interior of the 530i and 530e, things feel fairly similar. The seats are covered in a perforated SensaTec upholstery that looks like a premium material and feels soft to the touch. This material is paired with a sleek Anthracite headliner, and the wood trim adds an extra touch of elegance to the cabin. More luxurious components include a power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, and auto-dimming capability built into the rearview mirror, the exterior mirror on the driver's side, and cabin lights.

When five people are going on a long road trip together in the 530i, it might be a stretch to fit all of the luggage in the trunk, which has a volume of 14 cubic feet. However, trunk size shouldn't be an issue for most situations. The trunk is even smaller in the 530e because the car needs a place to hold all of its electrical components. Trunk volume in the 530e is ten cubic feet, which is honestly pretty minimal.

Compare the 2021 BMW 5 Series 530e vs 540i Trim Levels. What is the Difference?

The 540i is a step up from the 530e in several ways. Most importantly, it takes things up a notch in terms of performance. Rather than using the 2.0-liter engine as found in the 530e (and 530i), the 540i uses a 3.0-liter engine. It has the same type of twin turbo design, but it has six cylinders as opposed to the 530e's four cylinders. A result of being a larger engine is the ability to generate 335 horsepower. This engine provides the car with 331 pound-feet of torque.

An interesting note is that BMW has built some mild hybrid components into the 540i. Some energy can be captured by these components as the vehicle is braking. Fuel efficiency is estimated to be up to 32 miles per gallon when the BMW is traveling on the highway, and as seen before, it won't be as high if the 540i is equipped with xDrive.

For some people, accelerating is one of the best parts about driving. It can be a thrilling experience if someone is lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a performance vehicle. The 540i can better meet high expectations in this regard, as it can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds. While the 530e can hit that mark in less than six seconds, it's just not as quick off the line as the 540i is.

The other features of the 540i and 530e are very comparable, if not identical to each other. Both trims have Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The infotainment system can accept certain voice commands and can be connected to a mobile device through BMW Remote Services. This can be very convenient if, for example, someone forgets to lock the doors and is away from the vehicle. All it takes is a few clicks on a screen to lock them remotely.

The standard entertainment package on these 5 Series sedans comes with HD Radio and SiriusXM Radio to open up more choices for listeners. 12 speakers in the cabin provide a surround sound experience, and the 205-watt digital amplifier can really boost the sound quality.

Another area in which technology is heavily featured is in the Live Cockpit Professional system. This system consists of two 12.3-inch screens, through which users can control music playback, access directions through navigation, make phone calls, send and receive texts, and more.

Further, there are numerous safety systems incorporated into these BMW models. Frontal collision warning can make certain types of accidents much less likely, as can blind spot detection and a warning system that engages when the car starts to veer one way or another.

In the front of the cabin, there are sport seats that can move in 16 different ways. Side bolsters and lumbar support are power-adjustable, and the driver's seat can be programmed to remember a specific position. Likewise, the steering wheel has a memory function.

Compare the 2021 BMW 5 Series 540i vs M550i Trims. What is the Difference?

The M550i is the most premium trim out of this collection. The M550i is only available as an all-wheel drive model, which contrasts with all of the other trims. It's also the only trim that comes with the option to get Aventurin Red Metallic paint that can definitely stand out in a crowd.

That's not all that sets the M550i apart from the 540i. Under the hood is where the most differences can be seen. The M550i is powered by an engine even larger than the one in the 540i. It uses a 4.4-liter V8 that has a twin turbo design like the other versions. With this massive engine, torque is over 550 pound-feet, and horsepower is a very impressive 523.

As one would expect, the amount of time it takes to go from zero to 60 is cut down by quite a bit. The M version of the 5 Series can reach the 60-mph mark in 3.6 seconds. The downfall of the M model is its reduced fuel efficiency, as it can only travel up to 25 miles on one gallon, and that's on the highway. However, this probably won't bother too many people who are interested in the M550i since they're likely to mostly be concerned about performance.

Helping the M550i handle all of its capability are several premium components. The car has a special suspension with advanced dampers, sport brakes, and a sport differential.

The M version is unique in several other areas. Instead of using 18-inch wheels, it rides on 19-inch wheels, and they have a futuristic, dual-color design. The car has slightly different interior trim and accents than the 540i, and it has illuminated door sills and a rear spoiler.

In the cabin, it features Dakota Leather. The SensaTec material found on the 540i's seats is also used in the M550i, but on the dashboard. The seats on the M version are enhanced by having adjustable shoulder and thigh support, as if being able to be adjusted in 16 other ways wasn't enough. The M550i has a memory function for the front seat like the 540i has, but the front passenger in the M550i also gets to take advantage of this function. Plus, the front seats in the M model are heated.

From a technology standpoint, the M550i has a key upgrade. Rather than having the same sound system that the 540i has, it has 16 speakers and a 464-watt amplifier to make music really sound crisp and clear.

Buying Tip: To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals,   Edmunds,   CarsDirect,   NADAguides  &  Motortrend. These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.

Which Trim to Choose?

When choosing which of the 2021 BMW 5 Series vehicles would suit one best, the factor that matters most is performance. If having over 500 horsepower is preferred by someone, obviously the only choice would be the M550i. However, since most consumers aren't planning on heading to the race track anytime soon, the M550i wouldn't exactly make for a practical vehicle. Its price, which is over $76,000, can't be ignored either.

That leaves the 530i, 540i, and 530e. Given the growing demand for fuel efficient vehicles, the 530e is poised to be very successful in today's market.

The 530e is only a few thousand dollars more than the 530i and is priced lower than the 540i. In addition, it has more horsepower than the 530i. While it doesn't have the same capability that the 540i has, it does come somewhat close. Being able to drive a sedan with more than 250 horsepower is a treat. The 530e, as a plug-in, can be convenient to charge, and it's practical because it can run on regular gasoline just as easily as electric power.

For all of these reasons, the 530e is an intriguing choice. It blends a lot of different qualities together, and it's a car that people can truly enjoy driving.

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Previous BMW 5-Series Trim Configurations:

Compare the 2020 BMW 5-Series Trim Levels
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