The BMW 530e is a plug-in hybrid, the first for the 5 Series, and the most fuel efficient BMW ever introduced. You can drive up to 31 miles with the electric engine; after that, the gas engine kicks in. Total range is 404 miles.
The 530e is available with rear-wheel-drive or BMW’s all-wheel-drive system, xDrive. Starting prices for the 530e range from $51,400 for rear-wheel-drive to $53,700 for the xDrive model. That’s just a couple hundred bucks more than the regular 530i. Factor in the tax credits and the 530e comes in well under 50-grand.
The BMW 530e is powered by a a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder with variable valve lift and an eDrive AC synchronous electric motor with a 9.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Total output is 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The powertrain is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The BMW 530e isn’t as much of an ultimate driving machine as its traditional 5-series siblings. But it’s still a nimble sports sedan that’s a pleasure to drive. Like most BMWs, it’s quick off the line. It can go from zero to 60 mph in 6 seconds. The eight-speed transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. At times, you’ll notice the transition between the electric motor and the gas-powered engine.
You can choose from several driving performance settings: Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro. There are also different driving modes: Auto eDrive is the default setting and automatically selects the electric or gas motor for maximum efficiency with a top speed of 56 mph for the electric motor. Max eDrive mode uses electric power on its own and can attain a top speed of 87mph. If you press hard on the accelerator, the gas engine will kick in if a boost of power is needed. Battery Control charges the battery. This decreases fuel efficiency but can be useful if you know that you’ll be driving later in urban areas and want to be on all-electric power.
If you use navigation to guide you to your destination, the system will figure out the most efficient way to get you from point A to point B, using the gas-powered engine on highways and the electric motor in city traffic.
The battery can be fully charged in less than seven hours from a normal 110/120V household plug, and in less than three hours on a 240-volt charging system. It can also be charged wirelessly via a charging station that sends electricity to a receiver on the bottom of the vehicle.
EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 67 MPGe with electricity and gasoline combined, and 28 mpg combined with gasoline only. I got 40 MPGe during my week with a mix of city and highway driving, including round trips on the freeway between Portland and Salem, and Portland and the Seattle area.
The interior is modern, elegant and beautifully finished, just as you’d expect in a 5 Series. Seats are comfortable and supportive. The standard16-way or optional 20-way power-adjustable front seats let you find the perfect position. Adults will have plenty of leg- and headroom in both rows of seating. The cabin is very quiet.
There’s tons of tech including a standard navigation system and a user-friendly infotainment system. You can operate it via the customizable 10.25-inch touch screen, with voice commands or the control knob located between the two front seats.
One cool feature is BMW’s “gesture control.” You can make gestures to communicate with the infotainment system. Turn up the volume by circling a finger clockwise. Turn down the volume by circling a finger counter-clockwise. Accept a phone call by pointing at the touchscreen. And you can reject a call by swiping your hand to the right. There’s something extremely satisfying about doing that when you get a call from someone you really don’t want to talk to at that moment! You can also change the camera angle of the multi-camera view by creating a circle with your thumb and finger. And you can program a two-finger point to the screen to do another command, such as to navigate to your home from your current location.
The dash has the usual speedometer as well as an eDrive display which provides info on range, battery charge, power usage, etc. The full slate of BMW 5 Series Advanced Driver assistance systems are available including blind spot detection system, active lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance, and dynamic cruise control.
Since the battery is located under the rear seat, trunk space isn’t compromised. There are 14.5 cubic feet of storage and the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats give you flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo.
Priced at only about $200 more than the traditional 5 Series making it a heck of a buy.
Tons of tech including “gesture control.”
Doesn’t handle quite as well as the traditional BMW 5 Series
Price rises in a hurry with options
My tester starts at $53,700. Bluestone metallic paint is $550. Cold weather package is $800 and includes heating steering wheel and front and rear heated seats. Driving Assistance Package is $1,700 and adds a head-up display. Driving Assistance Plus Package is $1,700 and adds the Active Driving Assistant Plus. Lighting Package is $1,050 and adds adaptive full LED lights and automatic high beams. Parking Assistance Package is $1,300 and adds Parking Assistant Plus, active park distance control, rear view camera, surround view with 3D view. Premium Package is $2,700 and includes power tailgate, keyless entry, satellite radio, wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot and enhanced USB and Bluetooth. Dynamic damper control is $1,000. Soft-close automatic doors are $600. Ceramic controls are $650. Apple CarPlay compatibility is $300. Gesture control is $190. Harman Kardon surround sound is $875. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $68,760.
Want a BMW badge and access to all of the 5 Series bells and whistles on a more environmentally friendly vehicle? The 530e is worth a look.