Vehicle Overview
BMW adds new base versions to its 5 Series lineup, introduces two new six-cylinder engines and freshens the appearance of all models.

The 5 Series returns in sedan and station wagon body styles, and with the new engines, model nomenclature changes. Base models are now called 525i. What was the 528i sedan last year is now the 530i. The 540i sedan returns with the same 4.4-liter V-8 engine.

With a base price of $35,970, including the destination charge, the 525i sedan is $3,500 less than last year’s cheapest 5 Series model. Also returning from last year is the high-performance M5 sedan.

Styling changes include a reshaped twin-kidney grille, body-color side moldings, and new headlights, turn signals and front fascia. The taillights get new LED lights. At 188 inches overall, the 5 Series sedan is about an inch shorter than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and nearly 9 inches shorter than the Lexus LS 430. The 111.4-inch wheelbase, however, places the 5 Series among the full-size cars.

All models come with front bucket seats with 10-way power adjustments for the driver’s side, remote keyless entry, a 10-speaker audio system and a power tilt/telescopic steering column. Leather upholstery is standard on the 540i and optional on the 525i and 530i. A split, folding rear seatback is optional on all models.

Under the Hood
The 525i uses a new 184-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine, and the 530i has a new 225-hp 3.0-liter inline-six. The 540i’s 4.4-liter V-8 generates 282 hp. The inline-six-cylinder models are available with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, and the 540i comes with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

In a switch from usual pricing practices, the 540i costs more with the manual than the automatic transmission: $54,470 versus $51,670. All-wheel drive is optional on the smaller 3 Series sedan and wagon, but the 5 Series remains rear-drive only.

All models have two-stage front airbags whose deployment force depends on crash severity and whether the occupants are buckled up. In addition, side-impact airbags for the front seats and the Head Protection System, which consists of a curtain-type airbag that deploys to protect front-seat occupants, also are available. Rear side-impact airbags are optional, and this year they include head-protection curtains for the rear seats.

Traction control, a lateral-skid control system called Dynamic Stability Control and antilock brakes are standard across the board.

Reported by Rick Popely  for
From the 2001 Buying Guide