Premium midsize car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,500 – $55,500*

2004 BMW 5-Series

2004 BMW 5-Series

2004 BMW 5-Series

2004 BMW 5-Series

2004 BMW 5-Series

  • Build quality
  • Interior materials
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
  • Control layout
  • Fuel economy

Overall, the 5-Series delivers a formidable blend of luxury, sport, and engineering. Prices were steep when new, iDrive confounds, and six-cylinder engines feel underpowered–outperformed by those of several rivals. Still, with the addition of available Active Steering and Active Roll Stabilization, BMW improved upon the 5-Series’ world-class handling–without compromising its admirable ride quality. Each 5-Series bristles with technology, but not all of it is beneficial. Active Steering, for instance, is a love/hate item. High resale values keep secondhand prices on the hefty side.


New styling and features, plus more V8 power, highlighted BMW’s redesigned 5-Series for 2004. Gone was the wagon body style, leaving sedans that were slightly larger than the 1997-2003 models. BMW competed against the Audi A6, Lexus LS 430, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans, along with the Acura TL/RL and Infiniti M.

Four models were offered: 525i, 530i, 545i, and 545i 6-Speed. The 525i retained a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine; the 530i carried over a 225-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six. Both 545i models used a 4.4-liter V8 that produced 325 horsepower, up from 290 in the 2003 540i. The 525i, 530i, and 545i 6-Speed came with a six-speed manual transmission. Standard on the 545i and optional for the 525i and 530i was a six-speed automatic with manual shift gate.

All 5s had BMW’s iDrive, which used a console “joystick” to control entertainment, navigation, communication, and climate functions. Antilock braking, BMW Assist emergency and concierge service, a tire-pressure monitor, and traction/antiskid control were standard. Front side airbags and front/rear head-protecting tubular side airbags also were standard. Rear torso side airbags were optional.

The 545i 6-Speed had a sport suspension, run-flat tires, and BMW’s Active Steering that electronically varied both steering ratio and assist. BMW’s Active Roll Stabilization was designed to counteract body lean. With the optional sport suspension, the 525i, 530i, and 545i added Active Roll Stabilization, run-flat tires, and Active Steering.

Options included DVD entertainment, a navigation system, front and rear park assist, heated front and rear seats, and adaptive cruise control designed to maintain a set following distance. Later in the model year came an optional head-up instrument display and satellite radio, plus, for all but the 545i, a Sequential Manual Transmission (SMT). Essentially a clutchless manual operated via a console lever or steering-wheel paddles, the sequential manual could also be set to shift like an automatic.

Yearly Updates

2005 5-Series
Minor equipment shuffling highlighted the 2005 model year. The 545i joined other models with a standard six-speed manual transmission. Six-speed automatic was optional for all, and the 530i and 545i could have BMW’s Sequential Manual Transmission. All 5-Series models except the 525i had 17-inch tires.
2006 5-series
Wagons rejoined the 5-Series lineup. All-wheel drive became available this year, on the 530xi sedan and wagon and the 525xi sedan. BMW’s rear-wheel-drive sedan lineup included the 525i, 530i, and 550i. Engines gained power. The 525i exchanged its former 184-hp 2.5-liter engine for a 215-horsepower 3.0-liter. In 530i models, the 3.0-liter engine gained 30 horsepower (now 255). A new 360-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 for top models prompted a name change from 545i to 550i. BMW also revived the high-performance M5 sedan, with a seven-speed SMT, unique sport suspension tuning, 19-inch tires, and a 500-horsepower V10 engine.
2007 5-Series
5-Series carried over unchanged.
2008 5-Series
Freshened styling and new 6-cylinder engines marked the 2008 BMW 5-Series. The lineup started with 528i and all-wheel-drive 528xi sedans, which replaced the 525i and 525xi. One step up were the 535i sedan and AWD 535xi sedans and wagons, which replaced the 530i and 530xi. The 528 and 535 got a new 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine; it made 230 horsepower in 528s, 300 in the turbocharged 535s .
2009 5-Series
The 2009 BMW 5-Series was largely unchanged following its freshening for the 2008 model year.
2010 5-Series
The 2010 BMW 5-Series saw no major changes pending a redesign due in calendar 2010 as a 2011 model.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

BMW’s 5-Series sedan comes with quite a choice of powertrains. A 184-horsepower 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine goes into the 2004-05 525i, mated to six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The 530i holds a 225-horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, with the same transmission choices plus a sequential manual transmission (SMT). A 4.4-liter V8 rated at 325 horsepower goes into the 545i, with a six-speed manual or SMT, or a five-speed automatic. For 2006, a 215-hp 3.0-liter six replaced the 2.5-liter in the 525i, and the 3.0 in the 530i gained 30 horsepower. A new 4.8-liter V8 went into the 550i (formerly 545i). BMW also launched an M5 sedan with a V10 engine and seven-speed SMT. A Power button could switch the V10 between 400 and 500 horsepower. New 6-cylinder engines marked the 2008 BMW 5-Series. 528i and all-wheel-drive 528xi sedans replaced the 525i and 525xi. 535i sedan and AWD 535xi sedans and wagons replaced the 530i and 530xi. The 528 and 535 got a new 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine; it made 230 horsepower in 528s, 300 in the turbocharged 535s .

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/152
Engine HP 184
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 175
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 225-230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200-214
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
6-speed automatic

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 255-300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
SMT manual
6-speed automatic
dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.4/268
Engine HP 325
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
SMT manual
5-speed automatic


dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.8/293
Engine HP 360
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 360
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
SMT manual
6-speed automatic

Road Test

Neither six-cylinder engine has much low-rpm torque, but they keep pulling to provide adequate acceleration. The smooth 3.0-liter six provides fine performance, but does not feel as strong as BMW’s claimed 6.6-second 0-60 mph time with manual transmission, or 6.9 with automatic. A manual-shift 530i took 7.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, versus 7.7 seconds for an automatic 525i and 6.9 seconds for an AWD 530xi with automatic. The V8 is stronger at all speeds. An automatic 545i did 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Most rival six-cylinder engines have more horsepower than the 5-Series’ sixes. BMW’s manual transmission provides silky smooth action.

Automatic works well with the 3.0, but can be a bit tardy on downshifts. Performance reaches startling heights with the 500-horsepower M5, but its Sequential Manual Transmission delivers shockingly jarring shifts even in full-automatic mode.

Fuel economy is about as expected, with automatics slightly less frugal. A 525i with automatic averaged 18.4 mpg, while a manual-shift 530i averaged 19.7 to 20 mph, and a 545i with automatic achieved 17.7 mpg. All engines require premium fuel.

The 5-Series’ combination of ride and handling is among the world’s best. Ride quality is smooth and stable at any speed. The Sport package increases firmness and allows ruts to pound through, but the ride never becomes harsh.

Well-balanced and agile, a 5-Series is always composed, maintaining its reputation as the luxury sports sedan others strive to match. Active Steering is a boon to low-speed maneuverability, also reducing the need for high-speed steering correction. Very little body lean is evident in fast turns; almost none with Active Roll Stabilization, but its activation point is inconsistent. Braking is strong, stable, and straight.

Virtually no wind rush is noticeable. The only real road noise comes with Sport Package tires, and even those are hushed on most surfaces. Solid build quality translates to few creaks and rattles. The 3.0-liter six always is smooth, with a muted growl in aggressive acceleration.

Unfortunately, drivers must interact with the standard iDrive setup for anything other than the simplest audio and climate adjustments. That complicates most functions and diverts driver attention. Apart from iDrive, the control layout itself is simple and convenient. Elegant interior decor benefits from top-notch materials.

All but the very tall get good head and leg room up front on firm, supportive seats. Power seats and tilt/telescoping steering make it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Over-the-shoulder and aft visibility rank only average. Despite fine head room, leg and toe space are limited in the back seat. Taller riders may want more head clearance, but should have legroom problems only with front seats all the way back. Long, firm rear cushions provide fine comfort.

Decent trunk space is accessed by high liftover. Hinges are covered to prevent crushing packages, but they do gobble up space. Interior storage space is minimal.


Model Tested: 2005 BMW 5-Series 530i w/automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 8
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 8


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 63


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.7 189.6 72.7 58.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.0 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.7 37.9 41.5 36.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine stalling
Description: The engine may run rough or miss (the check engine light may also come on) due to problems with the original ignition coils and the carmaker is replacing them with Bosch coils. (2004 and prior)
Engine temperature
Description: Engine may overheat due to one or more problems with the electric water pump on the 6-cylinder engine. (2005-06)
Poor transmission shift
Description: The paddle shifters on the steering wheel may quit working due to loss of electrical signal often caused by loose connectors. (2004-07)
Spark plugs
Description: Due to casting porosity in some of the 2.5L engine cylinder heads, oil may leak and collect around the spark plug tube. (2004)
Trunk latch
Description: The pivot for the trunk hydraulic lift cylinder may work loose and/or its threads may rust requiring either reinstalling with Loctite or replacing the pivot. (2005)
Valve cover leaks
Description: The right side (cylinders 1-4) valve cover or oil filler cap on the 4.8L V8 may break in cold weather due to ice buildup in the vent hose or valve. (2004-06)
Description: Headlight modules were being replaced during a campaign in areas where the temperature may exceed 95 degrees F to replace the lamp module that allows power to remain on and drain the battery. (2004)
Description: The battery may die overnight if the key is left in the ignition on vehicles with electronic immobilizer system. (2004-06)
Description: Speedometer and/or tachometer needles may vibrate at idle requiring vehicle reprogramming. (2004-07)
Electrical problem
Description: The low oil warning light was coming on after the ignition was turned off. The sensor was being replaced under a recall. (2004)
Electrical problem
Description: The oil condition sensor on the 2.5L engine can short out internally causing intermittent no-starts. (2004)
Electrical problem
Description: The flat tire warning light may illuminate due to miscommunication between run-flat warning light and the electronic height control or if the flat tire monitor is not reset after tire replacement. (2005)
Electrical problem
Description: The electronic steering lock warning light may illuminate and/or the vehicle will not start if battery was low when starting. (2006)
Description: The universal garage door opener in the vehicle may not accept a code from a different (new transmitter or new owner) if the batteries in the transmitter are low. (2005-07)
Description: The hydraulic valve adjusters (lifters) may tick when the 3.0L 6-cylinder engine is first started due to oil drainback and may take up to 30 minutes of driving to quiet down. (2004-07)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate accompanied by rattling sound from front of engine due to leak in oil line for variable valve timing system. (2004-07)

Recall History

2004 5-Series V8
Description: On certain cars, engine stalling may occur after short period of operation; engine may be unable to restart.
2004 5-Series V8
Description: Retention clip along fuel supply line may have been omitted; in a severe frontal crash, the quick-release coupling could separate, causing fuel leakage.
2004 5-Series
Description: Heating mat in backrest’s side bolster of cars with front-seat heating could be damaged by excessive contact when entering/exiting the vehicle; overheating could melt a small hole in the seat cover and possibly burn the occupant.
2004-06 5-Series with the standard or sport seat options
Description: The airbag occupant-detection mat under the front passenger seat may fail, and will illuminate the airbag warning and passenger airbag “on/off” lamps. In the event of a crash, the passenger side airbags, with the exception of the head protection system, will not deploy. Dealers will rework the front passenger seat sensor mat so that external force application to the seat does not cause a crack to the mat.
2004-2010 5-Series
Description: A check valve of the brake vacuum pump may leak a small amount of lubricating oil. Over time this could result in contamination of the brake booster. Power assist braking performance could be adversely affected. In extreme cases there could be a complete loss of power assist braking. An unexpected reduction or loss in power braking assist may increase the risk of a crash.
2004-2010 5-Series and M5
Description: A battery cable may work loose and cause the cable connection to overheat, which could cause a fire.
2005-06 5-Series
Description: Incorrectly-manufactured automatic transmission parking pawl guide plate could cause parking lock system not to engage, with the lever in “P” position.
2006 5-Series
Description: Certain nuts may not have been tightened to specification. This could eventually result poor vehicle handling. Dealers will retighten the front axle control arm and tension strut nuts to the correct specifications free of charge.
2006-2007 550i with V8 engine
Description: The engine can stall in conditions of below-freezing temperatures combined with low humidity, due to electrostatic discharge. Dealers will attach two ground cables in the engine compartment.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.