2003 BMW 525

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Key Specs

of the 2003 BMW 525. Base trim shown.

2003 BMW 525 Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
BMW’s midlevel rear-wheel-drive (RWD) 525 sedan and wagon, which fit between the smaller 3 Series models and the flagship 7 Series cars, get several modifications for the 2003 model year. A moonroof is now standard on the base-model 525i, which holds a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. BMW’s Head Protection System for rear passengers has been added, and the available navigation system switches to DVD-based operation.

A rain sensor is now included with the optional Premium Package. The German automaker also offers a 530i sedan with a larger six-cylinder engine, as well as a 540i sedan with V-8 power and a high-performance M5 sedan.

BMW’s midlevel six-cylinder 525 sport wagon competes primarily against other European-brand luxury wagons from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and Volvo. The German automaker also offers a 540 wagon with V-8 power but no equivalent to the 530i sedan. Unlike BMW’s 325xi wagon, which has the option of all-wheel drive, the 5 Series is rear-wheel drive only.

A moonroof is now standard on the base-model 525i wagon, which holds a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. BMW’s Head Protection System for the rear passengers has been added, and the available navigation system switches to DVD-based operation. Rain-sensing wipers are now included with the optional Premium Package.

Exterior
Riding a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the 525i falls into the compact category according to interior-volume standards by the Environmental Pro...
Vehicle Overview
BMW’s midlevel rear-wheel-drive (RWD) 525 sedan and wagon, which fit between the smaller 3 Series models and the flagship 7 Series cars, get several modifications for the 2003 model year. A moonroof is now standard on the base-model 525i, which holds a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. BMW’s Head Protection System for rear passengers has been added, and the available navigation system switches to DVD-based operation.

A rain sensor is now included with the optional Premium Package. The German automaker also offers a 530i sedan with a larger six-cylinder engine, as well as a 540i sedan with V-8 power and a high-performance M5 sedan.

BMW’s midlevel six-cylinder 525 sport wagon competes primarily against other European-brand luxury wagons from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and Volvo. The German automaker also offers a 540 wagon with V-8 power but no equivalent to the 530i sedan. Unlike BMW’s 325xi wagon, which has the option of all-wheel drive, the 5 Series is rear-wheel drive only.

A moonroof is now standard on the base-model 525i wagon, which holds a 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine. BMW’s Head Protection System for the rear passengers has been added, and the available navigation system switches to DVD-based operation. Rain-sensing wipers are now included with the optional Premium Package.

Exterior
Riding a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the 525i falls into the compact category according to interior-volume standards by the Environmental Protection Agency, but cars.com considers it a midsize model. At 188 inches long overall, the 525i is a little shorter than the Lexus GS 300. In appearance, the 5 Series sedans closely resemble their smaller and larger counterparts, all of which sport BMW’s familiar twin-kidney grille.

From the front doors forward, the wagon’s styling is identical to BMW’s 5 Series sedans. Its overall appearance also resembles the smaller 3 Series and larger 7 Series, including the familiar twin-kidney grille. Even though the 525i is often considered a midsize model, it falls into the compact category according to interior-volume standards by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fog lights and cross-spoke 16-inch wheels are standard. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are optional. A Sport Package for the 525i wagon includes a sport suspension, sport-style seats and 17-inch tires on star-spoke wheels.

Interior
Seating for five occupants is standard on all 5 series models. The front bucket seats have 10-way power adjustment for the driver. Standard equipment on all models includes remote keyless entry, a 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, heated power mirrors and an alarm. Leather upholstery is optional. Sedans can be equipped with an optional split, folding rear seatback.

The wagons include a split, folding rear seat and a retractable rear cargo cover. The powered front bucket seats have a 10-way adjustment, and they feature standard leatherette upholstery; leather is offered as an option. The 525 wagon also includes dual-zone automatic air conditioning, heated power mirrors with a memory feature, a CD stereo, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, an alarm, and a central locking system that can lock the doors and close the windows via remote control.

Cargo volume behind the rear seat totals 32.7 cubic feet, but folding the backseat increases space to 65.2 cubic feet. BMW’s navigation system is optional, and Sport and Premium option groups are offered.

Under the Hood
The 525i uses a 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine, which teams with either a five-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. All 5 Series models are RWD only, unlike the smaller 3 Series, which offers all-wheel drive as an option.

The automatic gearbox in the 525i wagon incorporates a Steptronic mode that permits manually selected gear changes by tipping the shift lever fore and aft.

Safety
Dual-stage front airbags deploy according to crash severity and whether occupants are buckled up. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and BMW’s Head Protection System — which consists of curtain-type airbags that deploy to protect front-seat occupants — are standard on all series models. Side-impact airbags are optional for the rear seats. Safety features include antilock brakes, traction control and BMW’s electronic stability system, called Dynamic Stability Control. The optional Park Distance Control detects obstacles to the front and rear of the car while parking.

Driving Impressions
BMW mixes big doses of both sport and luxury in all 5 Series models, starting with the 525i. Drivers can expect the precise maneuverability and control of a smaller 3 Series sedan, coupled with quite a few luxuries. The suspensions are undeniably firm, but ride comfort remains pleasant over most pavement surfaces.

Performance is reasonably energetic even with the 2.5-liter inline-six. BMW appears to strive for symmetry in each of its models, so the dashboard and its easy-to-read gauges look about the same, regardless of the size of the sedan. The ride and handling qualities differ little between the 5 Series sedans and wagons. Even with its inline-six-cylinder engine, the 525i wagon’s performance is reasonably energetic.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 12/18/02

Latest 2003 525 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Handles great but pricey

by bdl89 from Plano, TX on June 2, 2018

I love the car, it drives great and handles really good. Very smooth on the highway. Things just break easy and takes money to replace a lot of parts Read full review

(5.0)

A beautiful workhorse!

by GBob from Davidson NC on April 20, 2018

It’s got it all! We have beauty, performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. This is, in-fact, the best car I’ve owned in 40 years! My comments are honest and sincere. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2003 BMW 525 currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2003 BMW 525 has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The 525 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker