BMW models start from the smallest offering, the 2 Series in North America and 1 Series in Europe–and progressing upwards towards using numeric model designations. One would be correct in thinking as the model numbers get bigger, the vehicles do as well. With that train of thought, then it’s safe to say the BMW 3 series would then just be a bigger and more upscale version of the 2 series right? Ironically, it would be incorrect to think that the formidable 5 series is just a larger and more upscale 3 series. After having driven this 2021 BMW 540i, I am more inclined to think of this model as a smaller 7 series.
It’s Good Looks
Even though the current 5 series generation has only been out for a couple of years, the LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) is a mild refresh before an all-new 5 series hits the market sometime in 2023. It has received a new front fascia with a slightly larger grill and redesigned front light–and also gets a brush over on the rear end with a new bold lighting design.
Under the Hood
The 3 litre inline 6 cylinder B58 engine is carried over from the 2020 model but with a new and exciting little twist. It is now piggy-backed by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, but we’ll discuss more on that further. Output for this silky smooth turbo 6 is 335hp. That’s good enough to churn out a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds as per BMW, which is notorious for underreporting their performance numbers.
An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is the only transmission available and does an excellent job of ensuring you are always in the right gear, no matter the road conditions. You also get ride settings to choose from and they vary from eco mode, comfort mode, sport and sport plus.
Fuel economy numbers are 23 mpg city, 31 highway. We were able to achieve a combined score of 27 mpg. But you might say why not a better return on fuel economy, aren’t hybrids and hybrid assisted vehicles supposed to return much better numbers than their non-hybrid counterparts. In almost all cases you’d be correct to think that. Queue the circle back on the mild hybrid system.
Hybrid and mild hybrid systems usually help with fuel economy during slower speeds and also city driving situations. And then there is BMW and their promise to deliver the ultimate driving machine. With stifling government policies and regulations of emission restrictions and greener global goals, it is becoming more challenging for manufacturers to churn out exciting gas-powered vehicles.
This particular hybrid assist system is not in place to help you achieve higher mpg than its non-hybrid B58 counterparts, even though it can do so, but rather to help deliver more instantaneous power. And that it does. Peak torque of 365 lb-ft kicks in at around 1,500 RPM and carries at full spike all the way up to 6,200 RPM. However, to keep things fair, if you are not launching this car at every red light, you will undoubtedly achieve slightly higher mpg than your standard non-electric-assisted B58 engine.
How do you know if the BMW 5 Series right for you?
You have a lot of choices at your fingertips that stretch across a vast area of budget and performance offered from the 5 series’ model lineup. Starting from the gas-powered 530i coming in at $66,754. You’ll pay a small premium to step into the plug-in hybrid 530e at $71,254. The next model up is our test vehicle 540i $76,204, and our editor’s favourite M550i for $90,554. For the Canadian market, all 5 series vehicles are equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.
If that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can move up to the BMW M car lineup where you’ll have the BMW M5 Competition from $125,254 and M5 CS from $169,154.
As the SUV and electric vehicle take over is still in full swing without any signs of slowing down, most households’ purchase criteria no longer include a gas-powered sedan. I remember when the sedan market was as populated as the current SUV craze was and manufacturers couldn’t pump out new models fast enough to keep up with demand.
Now when I see a cool sports sedan drive-by, I make sure to make eye contact with the driver to give him/her a nod or a thumbs up to show my appreciation and respect for keeping the trend alive of owning and supporting the sports sedan market, because who knows how much longer we can have the opportunity to do so.
Review: 2021 BMW 540i xDrive2021 BMW 540i xDrive
- Exterior4/5 Good
- Interior Design4/5 Good
- Ride + Comfort4/5 Good
- Fuel Economy4/5 Good
- Value3/5 Neutral
- Residual4/5 Good
- VIBE Drip Factor4/5 Good
- Undated exterior design is a winner.
- Great colour and wheel options.
- Can get pricy if heavy on options.
- Sport plus mode exhaust note too quiet for our liking.