BMW E60 5 Series: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a journey through the beautiful, polarizing, and downright thrilling world of the BMW E60 5 Series. Today we’re diving into the nuances of this beautiful Bavarian beast, breaking down what you need to know if you want to make one of these gems your own.

A Brief History: The Evolution of a Legend

The BMW E60 5 Series, launched in 2003, marked the fifth generation of BMW’s executive midsize sedan, following the highly successful E39 model. While the E39 was lauded for its balance of performance, luxury, and styling, the E60 took a bold new direction in both design and technology, creating a generation of 5 Series that stood out from its predecessors and contemporaries alike.

Designer Chris Bangle was responsible for the E60’s striking appearance, introducing his “flame surfacing” design language that sparked heated debates among BMW enthusiasts. The E60’s unique headlight and taillight designs, along with its unconventional character lines, made it instantly recognizable on the road. This polarizing look proved influential, as it set the tone for the brand’s future design direction.

The E60 was more than just a pretty (or controversial) face; it was a showcase for BMW’s latest advancements in automotive technology. The 5 Series introduced new features like Active Steering, which adjusted the steering ratio based on speed, and the Head-Up Display (HUD), projecting vital information onto the windshield. Other innovations included night vision, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning systems.

Underneath the E60’s avant-garde sheet metal, BMW continued to deliver the driving dynamics and performance that built its reputation. The E60 was engineered to offer a range of engine options, from fuel-efficient diesels to the heart-stopping, naturally aspirated V10 found in the M5. The chassis was composed of a mix of steel, aluminum, and magnesium, which made the E60 lighter and more rigid than its predecessor. This focus on weight reduction and chassis rigidity translated to a more engaging and responsive driving experience.

Over its seven-year production run, the E60 5 Series gained a loyal following and found homes in driveways around the globe. Despite its controversial design, it remains an essential chapter in BMW’s history, a testament to the brand’s willingness to push boundaries and innovate. And, as we’ll explore in this buyer’s guide, the E60 is a fascinating choice for those seeking a used BMW that offers performance, luxury, and a little bit of quirkiness.

Engines: From Silky Smooth to Brutal Beasts – A Symphony of Bavarian Power

The heart of any BMW lies beneath the hood, and the E60 5 Series offered a diverse array of engines to suit every driver’s taste. From smooth inline sixes to powerful V8s and the monstrous V10, there’s an E60 engine that’s bound to stir your soul.

Inline-Six Engines: The Sweet Spot

The E60 5 Series offered a range of inline-six engines, each showcasing the unique characteristics and engineering prowess that have made BMW’s six-cylinders synonymous with the brand. These engines balance performance, efficiency, and refinement, making them the perfect choice for those seeking an enjoyable and versatile daily driver. Let’s take a closer look at the various inline-six engines found in the E60 lineup.

M54: The Classic

The M54 engine, offered in the early E60 525i and 530i models, is naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter (184 horsepower) and 3.0-liter (228 horsepower) inline-six, respectively. This engine, which made its debut in the previous E39 5 Series, is renowned for its smoothness and responsiveness, providing a linear power delivery and a satisfying soundtrack. While it lacks the advanced technology of its successors, the M54’s simplicity makes it an attractive choice for those seeking a more traditional BMW driving experience.

N52: The Game Changer

Replacing the M54 in later 525i, 528i, and 530i models, the N52 engine marked a significant leap forward in technology and efficiency. This naturally aspirated, 3.0-liter inline-six introduced BMW’s Valvetronic system, which continuously adjusts valve lift and timing for improved performance and fuel economy. The N52 is also lighter, thanks to its magnesium-aluminum composite construction. With power outputs ranging from 215 to 268 horsepower, the N52 offers a blend of performance and efficiency that’s hard to beat.

N53: The European Exclusive

Available only in European markets, the N53 engine is a direct-injection evolution of the N52. The 3.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-six features BMW’s High Precision Injection technology, which improves combustion efficiency and reduces emissions. Offered in the 523i, 528i, and 530i, the N53 produces between 201 and 268 horsepower. Unfortunately, due to its incompatibility with high-sulfur fuels found in some regions, the N53 was never offered in North America.

An in-depth guide on N54 engine

N54: The Twin-Turbo Powerhouse

Debuting in the E60 535i, the N54 engine was BMW’s first production twin-turbocharged inline-six. This 3.0-liter engine produced an impressive 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, delivering the performance that rivaled the naturally aspirated V8s of its time. The N54’s low-end torque and smooth power delivery make it a thrilling companion, whether on a spirited backroad drive or a relaxed highway cruise. While the N54 has gained a reputation for certain reliability issues, such as the high-pressure fuel pump and turbocharger failures, many enthusiasts consider the engine’s performance worth the extra maintenance attention.

Each of these inline-six engines offers a unique driving experience, capturing the essence of BMW’s engineering and performance heritage. Whether you choose the simplicity of the M54, the technological advances of the N52 and N53, or the exhilarating twin-turbocharged N54, you’ll be rewarded with a smooth, responsive engine that’s truly worthy of the BMW badge.

Here’s a spec table for the BMW E60 5 Series inline-six engines:

Engine CodeModelDisplacementConfigurationAspirationPower (hp)Torque (lb-ft)Production Years
M54B25525i2.5LInline-6Naturally aspirated1841752003-2005
M54B30530i3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2282212003-2005
N52B25525i (later)2.5LInline-6Naturally aspirated2151852006-2010
N52B30528i3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2312002005-2010
N52B30530i (later)3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2682322006-2010
N53B30523i (Europe)3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2011992007-2010
N53B30528i (Europe)3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2552282007-2010
N53B30530i (Europe)3.0LInline-6Naturally aspirated2682362007-2010
Please note that the power and torque figures may vary slightly depending on the market and the specific model year.

V8 Engines: Power and Presence – Unleashing the Bavarian Brawn

For those who desire an E60 with an extra dose of power and a captivating exhaust note, the V8 engines offered in the 545i and 550i models are a force to be reckoned with. These engines bring performance and presence to the 5 Series lineup, making every drive exhilarating and memorable. Let’s delve into the details of the E60’s V8 offerings.

N62B44: The 545i’s Powerplant

The 545i’s 4.4-liter V8 engine, known as the N62B44, is a naturally aspirated powerhouse that produces 333 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. This engine features BMW’s Double VANOS variable valve timing system and Valvetronic variable valve lift, which work together to optimize power delivery and efficiency. The N62B44 provides the 545i with brisk acceleration, taking the car from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.

While the N62B44 delivers impressive performance, it’s essential to be aware of some common issues, such as coolant leaks from the valley pan gasket and oil leaks from the alternator bracket seal. Regular maintenance and inspection can help keep the engine running smoothly and ensure a satisfying driving experience.

N62B48: The Mighty 550i

In 2006, BMW introduced the 550i, which featured an updated 4.8-liter N62B48 V8 engine. This beast of an engine generates 367 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque, propelling the 550i from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.2 seconds. Like the 545i, the 550i’s engine utilizes Double VANOS and Valvetronic technologies for improved performance and efficiency.

While the N62B48 shares some of the 545i’s engine issues, including coolant and oil leaks, it also faces additional concerns, such as worn timing chain guides and VANOS solenoid failures. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to any issues can help ensure a long and enjoyable life for the engine.

Both the 545i and 550i V8 engines offer an intoxicating blend of power and presence, elevating the E60 driving experience to new heights. The combination of robust acceleration and a thrilling exhaust note makes these models an enticing choice for enthusiasts craving more muscle from their BMW. However, it’s essential to be prepared for the higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs that come with V8 ownership. For those who are willing to invest in proper care and upkeep, the E60’s V8 models promise a driving experience that’s nothing short of exhilarating.

Here’s a spec table for the BMW E60 5 Series V8 engines:

Engine CodeModelDisplacementConfigurationAspirationPower (hp)Torque (lb-ft)Production Years
N62B44545i4.4LV8Naturally aspirated3333322003-2005
N62B48550i4.8LV8Naturally aspirated3673612006-2010
Please note that the power and torque figures may vary slightly depending on the market and the specific model year.

Diesel Engines: Torque and Efficiency – The Efficient Thrill-Seekers

The E60 5 Series’ diesel engines offer a compelling blend of performance and fuel efficiency, making them an attractive choice for those who want an eco-friendly option without sacrificing driving pleasure. With a range of four-cylinder and inline-six diesel engines, there’s a diesel-powered E60 for every taste. Let’s explore these torque-rich, fuel-sipping options.

M47D20: The Entry-Level Diesel

The E60 520d is powered by a 2.0-liter M47D20 four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, which produces 161 horsepower and a robust 251 lb-ft of torque. While it may not have the outright power of its larger-displacement siblings, the 520d’s engine offers plenty of low-end torque, providing swift acceleration and impressive fuel economy. The 520d is an excellent choice for those seeking efficiency without compromising on driving dynamics.

The N47D20 is another 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that was introduced in the E60 520d in 2007, replacing the M47D20. The N47 engine features a more advanced design and improved performance, as well as enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

M57D25: The Balanced Performer

The 525d features a 2.5-liter M57D25 inline-six turbocharged diesel engine, which generates 197 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This engine strikes a great balance between performance and efficiency, offering brisk acceleration and a satisfying driving experience while maintaining commendable fuel economy. The 525d is an ideal choice for those who want a touch more power without a significant impact on fuel consumption.

M57D30: The Torque Masters

The E60 530d and 535d are powered by variations of the 3.0-liter M57D30 inline-six turbocharged diesel engine. In the 530d, the engine produces 231 horsepower and a mighty 369 lb-ft of torque. The 535d, equipped with twin turbochargers, delivers an even more impressive 286 horsepower and a staggering 413 lb-ft of torque.

These engines are renowned for their low-end torque, providing effortless acceleration and highway passing ability. Despite their potent performance, both the 530d and 535d achieve remarkable fuel efficiency, making them an enticing choice for long-distance driving or daily commutes.

The diesel engines offered in the E60 5 Series showcase the potential of diesel technology, providing an enticing combination of performance and efficiency. With their abundant torque and impressive fuel economy, these engines are a smart choice for drivers seeking a more environmentally friendly alternative without sacrificing the driving enjoyment that BMW is known for.

Here’s a spec table for the BMW E60 5 Series diesel engines:

Engine CodeModelDisplacementConfigurationAspirationPower (hp)Torque (lb-ft)Production Years
N47D20520d (later)2.0LInline-4Turbocharged1772582007-2010
Please note that the power and torque figures may vary slightly depending on the market and the specific model year.

Drivetrain: The Choice is Yours – RWD or AWD, Manual or Automatic

The BMW E60 5 Series offers a variety of drivetrain options, allowing you to choose the perfect setup to suit your driving preferences and needs. Whether you prioritize a traditional rear-wheel-drive configuration or desire the added traction of all-wheel drive, the E60 lineup has something for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at the drivetrain options available in the E60 5 Series.

  1. Rear-Wheel Drive: The Classic BMW Experience

The E60 5 Series, like most BMWs, is primarily a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle. This classic configuration offers a well-balanced and engaging driving experience, with excellent handling characteristics and precise steering feedback. The RWD setup allows the E60 to deliver that distinct BMW driving feel that enthusiasts have come to love.

  1. xDrive: All-Weather Confidence

For drivers who live in regions with challenging weather conditions or simply prefer the added security of all-wheel drive, the E60 5 Series offers BMW’s xDrive system. Available on select models, such as the 525xi, 528xi, 530xi, and 535xi, the xDrive system intelligently distributes power between the front and rear wheels, providing enhanced traction and stability in various road conditions. While xDrive models may not offer the same level of driving purity as their RWD counterparts, they deliver confidence-inspiring performance and control, especially in wet or snowy conditions.

  1. Manual Transmission: The Driver’s Choice

A manual transmission has long been the gearbox of choice for driving enthusiasts, and the E60 5 Series delivers in this regard. Offered on select models, such as the 525i, 528i, 530i, 535i, and even the M5, the manual transmission allows drivers to have full control over gear changes, adding an extra layer of engagement and enjoyment to the driving experience. With precise shifts and a satisfying clutch feel, the manual transmission in the E60 is a true delight for those who prefer to row their own gears.

  1. Automatic Transmission: Convenience and Adaptability

For those who prioritize convenience and ease of use, the E60 5 Series offers a range of automatic transmissions. Early models were equipped with a 6-speed automatic, while later models featured a more advanced 8-speed automatic with faster, smoother shifts. The automatic transmissions in the E60 offer multiple driving modes, allowing drivers to adapt the gearbox’s behavior to their preferences, from a relaxed, comfort-oriented setup to a more dynamic, sporty driving experience.

The BMW E60 5 Series provides a range of drivetrain options to cater to various driving styles and preferences. Whether you choose the classic rear-wheel-drive setup or opt for the confidence of xDrive, and whether you prefer the driver-focused engagement of a manual transmission or the convenience of an automatic, the E60 offers a driving experience that’s tailored to your desires.

ModelEnginePower (hp)Torque (lb-ft)0-60 mph (seconds)Top Speed (mph)
520i2.2L Inline-61701559.0140
525i2.5L Inline-62181847.3152
530i3.0L Inline-62552206.3155*
535i (N54)3.0L Twin-Turbo Inline-63003005.5155*
545i4.4L V83333245.4155*
550i4.8L V83623615.0155*
M55.0L V105073834.1155* (limited)
520d2.0L Inline-4 Diesel1772588.1141
525d2.5L Inline-6 Diesel1972957.3146
530d3.0L Inline-6 Diesel2313696.5155
535d3.0L Twin-Turbo Inline-6 Diesel2864135.9155
Please note that these performance figures are approximate and may vary depending on the specific model year, optional equipment, and market. The top speed marked with an asterisk (*) is electronically limited.

Keep in mind that the acceleration times and top speeds can be influenced by factors such as the transmission type, drivetrain (RWD or AWD), and even tire choice. As such, actual performance may vary slightly from the figures provided here.

Suspension: Adaptive Excellence – Versatility and Precision

The BMW E60 5 Series’ suspension is designed to deliver a harmonious balance between comfort and performance, offering a refined driving experience that can adapt to various road conditions and driving preferences. With the optional Dynamic Drive and Adaptive Drive systems, the E60’s suspension takes versatility and precision to a whole new level. Let’s explore the features that make the E60’s suspension stand out.

  1. Standard Suspension: Comfort Meets Agility

The E60 5 Series’ standard suspension setup consists of a double-pivot MacPherson strut design in the front and a multi-link design in the rear. This configuration delivers a comfortable ride that soaks up road imperfections while maintaining the agility and responsiveness expected from a BMW. With its well-tuned balance of comfort and sportiness, the standard suspension is ideal for drivers who want a composed ride without compromising handling capabilities.

  1. Dynamic Drive: Active Roll Stabilization

For those who want to enhance the E60’s handling prowess, the optional Dynamic Drive system is a game-changer. Featuring Active Roll Stabilization (ARS), the Dynamic Drive system actively counteracts body roll during cornering, ensuring a flatter and more stable ride. ARS utilizes hydraulic actuators integrated into the anti-roll bars, adjusting their stiffness in real-time to minimize body roll and improve handling precision. The result is a more agile and controlled driving experience, especially during spirited cornering.

  1. Adaptive Drive: Ultimate Versatility

The Adaptive Drive system takes the E60’s suspension technology a step further by combining Dynamic Drive with the innovative Electronic Damper Control (EDC). EDC continuously adjusts the damping force of each shock absorber, adapting to road conditions and driving style. With Adaptive Drive, drivers can select between multiple driving modes, such as Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+, to tailor the suspension’s behavior to their preferences.

In Comfort mode, the suspension provides a plush and smooth ride, isolating occupants from road imperfections. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the suspension tightens up, delivering a more connected and dynamic driving experience. The Adaptive Drive system allows the E60 to offer the best of both worlds: a comfortable cruiser when needed and a capable sports sedan when desired.

The BMW E60 5 Series’ suspension is a testament to the brand’s dedication to delivering a well-rounded driving experience. From the standard suspension’s balance of comfort and agility to the advanced Dynamic Drive and Adaptive Drive systems’ versatility and precision, the E60’s suspension offers an engaging and adaptable ride that caters to a wide range of driving styles and preferences.

Common Issues: Look Before You Leap – Addressing E60 Quirks

As with any used vehicle, the BMW E60 5 Series can be prone to certain issues that potential buyers should be aware of before making a purchase. By understanding these common problems and addressing them proactively, you can ensure a more enjoyable and reliable ownership experience. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent issues in the E60 lineup.

Cooling System: Keep It Cool

One of the most common issues with the E60 5 Series is related to the cooling system. Components such as the water pump, thermostat, and radiator may fail over time, leading to overheating and potential engine damage. It’s crucial to inspect the cooling system components and replace them as needed, ideally following a preventative maintenance schedule.

Electronic Issues: The Gremlins Within – Taming the High-Tech Beasts

The BMW E60 5 Series is renowned for its advanced electronics and cutting-edge features, which contribute to its reputation as a sophisticated luxury sedan. However, these high-tech systems can sometimes be prone to failure, causing headaches for owners. Let’s dive deeper into some of the electronic issues that may affect the E60 and how to address them.

  1. iDrive System: The Control Center

The iDrive system serves as the E60’s central control interface, managing functions such as navigation, entertainment, and vehicle settings. Some owners have reported problems with the iDrive system, including freezing, slow response times, and complete failure. In many cases, a software update can resolve these issues. For more severe cases, it might be necessary to replace the iDrive control unit.

  1. Instrument Cluster: The Driver’s View

The E60’s instrument cluster features a combination of analog gauges and digital displays, providing the driver with essential information about the vehicle’s operation. Some owners have experienced issues with the instrument cluster, such as pixelation, flickering, or total failure. Repairing or replacing the instrument cluster is typically the solution in these cases.

  1. Electronic Control Modules: The Hidden Brain

Various electronic control modules (ECMs) manage the E60’s numerous systems, including the engine, transmission, and various convenience features. Faulty ECMs can lead to a variety of issues, ranging from minor annoyances to significant performance problems. Diagnosing and addressing ECM problems often requires specialized equipment and knowledge. In some cases, a simple software update can resolve the issue, while in others, the affected module may need to be replaced.

  1. Battery and Alternator: Powering the Electronics

A weak battery or faulty alternator can cause a myriad of electronic issues in the E60, as many systems rely on a consistent voltage supply to function correctly. Symptoms of a weak battery or alternator can include flickering lights, intermittent electronic failures, and a sluggish engine start. It’s essential to regularly inspect and maintain the charging system to prevent such issues.

  1. Wiring and Connectors: The Electronic Lifelines

The complex wiring and connectors found in the E60 can sometimes be the source of electronic problems. Corrosion, damaged wiring, or loose connections can cause intermittent or complete system failures. It’s crucial to inspect wiring and connectors as part of regular maintenance and address any issues promptly to avoid more significant problems.

By being proactive and addressing electronic issues in the BMW E60 5 Series, you can minimize the impact of these “gremlins” on your ownership experience. Regular maintenance, software updates, and timely repairs will help ensure that the E60’s high-tech systems continue to enhance your driving enjoyment, rather than detract from it.

Suspension Components: Wear and Tear

As the E60 ages, its suspension components may begin to wear out, resulting in degraded ride quality and handling. Bushings, ball joints, and control arms are among the parts that may need replacement. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify worn suspension components before they cause more significant issues.

Engine-Specific Problems

As discussed earlier, certain engines in the E60 lineup are prone to specific issues. For example, the N54 engine in the 535i is known for the high-pressure fuel pump and fuel injector failures, while the N62 V8 engines in the 545i and 550i may experience coolant and oil leaks. Being aware of these issues and addressing them proactively can help ensure a smooth and reliable driving experience.

VANOS System: Variable Valve Timing

Some E60 models are equipped with BMW’s VANOS variable valve timing system, which can suffer from issues like VANOS solenoid failures and worn timing chain guides. Regular maintenance, including oil changes with the correct grade of oil, can help prevent VANOS-related problems.

By understanding the common issues that may affect the BMW E60 5 Series and addressing them in a timely manner, you can enjoy the full potential of this outstanding sedan. Proper care and maintenance, combined with the occasional repair, will ensure a satisfying and reliable ownership experience, allowing you to fully appreciate the E60’s blend of performance, comfort, and style.

What are the Best Years to Buy?

The best years to buy a BMW E60 5 Series largely depend on your preferences and priorities, but generally, the later years of production are considered better due to improved reliability and the availability of more advanced features. The E60 was produced from 2004 to 2010, with a mid-cycle refresh (also known as a facelift or LCI) occurring in 2007.

Here are some guidelines to help you decide on the best years to buy:

2004-2006: Early Production Models

The early production models of the E60 come with a lower price tag but may have more issues compared to the later years. These models are equipped with the M54 and early N52 engines (for inline-six models) and the N62 engine (for V8 models). If you are on a tight budget and are willing to invest time and money in addressing potential issues, these years might be a good option.

2007-2010: Facelifted (LCI) Models

The facelifted E60 models, produced from 2007 to 2010, are generally considered a better choice due to several improvements and updates. These models feature updated styling, more advanced engines (such as the N54 twin-turbo inline-six and the updated N52), and improved iDrive systems. The facelifted models also tend to have fewer issues and better overall reliability, making them a more appealing option for many buyers.

2008-2010: The Sweet Spot

Many enthusiasts consider the 2008-2010 E60 models to be the sweet spot in terms of reliability, features, and value. By this time, BMW had addressed many of the initial issues with the E60, and the cars were equipped with more advanced engines and updated technology. Additionally, the 2008-2010 models are likely to have lower mileage and fewer wear-related issues compared to the earlier years.

Ultimately, the best years to buy a BMW E60 5 Series depend on your individual preferences, budget, and priorities. If you prioritize reliability and advanced features, the later years (2008-2010) are likely the better choice. However, if you are willing to invest in addressing potential issues and are seeking a lower initial cost, the early production models (2004-2006) might be a suitable option.

E60’s Practicality

When it comes to practicality, the BMW E60 5 Series offers a solid balance between performance, comfort, and everyday usability. Here are some key aspects that contribute to the E60’s practicality:

  1. Interior Space: The E60 provides ample space for both front and rear passengers, with comfortable seating for up to five occupants. The increase in size compared to the previous E39 generation translates to more legroom and headroom, ensuring a comfortable ride for passengers of all sizes.
  2. Trunk Space: With a trunk capacity of 14 cubic feet, the E60 offers sufficient storage for luggage, groceries, or other cargo. This makes the sedan a suitable option for road trips or daily errands. Additionally, a wagon (Touring) version was available in some markets, offering even more cargo space and practicality.
  3. Fuel Efficiency: While the high-performance M5 and V8 models may not be the most fuel-efficient choices, the inline-six and diesel variants offer respectable fuel efficiency for a luxury sedan. This makes the E60 a more practical option for daily driving and longer journeys.
  4. All-Wheel Drive (xDrive) Options: BMW introduced xDrive, their all-wheel-drive system, to the E60 lineup. The xDrive-equipped models offer better traction and handling in inclement weather and on slippery surfaces, making them a practical choice for those living in areas with harsher climates or more challenging driving conditions.
  5. Advanced Technology and Safety Features: The E60 is equipped with numerous advanced technology and safety features, such as the iDrive infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, head-up display, and various driver-assistance systems. These features contribute to a more comfortable, convenient, and safer driving experience, adding to the car’s practicality.
  6. Maintenance and Reliability: While the E60 can be more expensive to maintain compared to some of its competitors, regular maintenance and addressing known issues can help ensure a reliable ownership experience. As a luxury vehicle, the E60 does have higher maintenance costs, but proper care can mitigate many issues and make the car more practical for everyday use.

In summary, the BMW E60 5 Series offers a good balance of performance, comfort, and practicality for a luxury sedan. By choosing the right model and options to suit your needs, the E60 can be a versatile and enjoyable vehicle for various driving scenarios and lifestyles.

Here is a comparison table with dimensions and trunk space for the BMW E39, E60, and F10 5 Series:

GenerationProduction YearsLength (in)Width (in)Height (in)Wheelbase (in)Trunk Space (cu ft)
Please note that these dimensions and trunk space figures are approximate and may vary slightly depending on the specific model, optional equipment, and market. These figures are for the sedan versions of each generation; wagon versions will have different dimensions and trunk space capacities.

The table shows a gradual increase in size and wheelbase as the 5 Series evolved from the E39 to the F10 generation, which translates to more interior space and a more spacious feel for passengers. The trunk space also increased between the E39 and E60 generations, while remaining the same for the F10 generation. This progression reflects the general trend in the automotive industry towards larger and more spacious vehicles.

E60’s iDrive Versions

The iDrive system in the BMW E60 5 Series underwent several revisions throughout its production cycle, reflecting the evolution of automotive infotainment technology. Here’s an overview of the iDrive Professional versions found in the E60:

  1. First-Generation iDrive (2004-2006): The first-generation iDrive system, also known as the CCC (Car Communication Computer), debuted with the E60 in 2004. This version featured an 8.8-inch display, a single-disc CD player, and a DVD-based navigation system. Users interacted with the system using a rotary controller located on the center console. While the first-generation iDrive was an ambitious leap into the world of infotainment, it faced criticism for its slow response times, unintuitive menus, and steep learning curve.
  2. Second-Generation iDrive (2007-2008): In 2007, coinciding with the E60’s facelift (LCI), BMW introduced a revised version of the iDrive system. This iteration, still part of the CCC family, featured an updated interface with more straightforward menus and improved graphics. Additionally, BMW increased the system’s processing power, resulting in faster response times and smoother operation.
  3. Third-Generation iDrive (2009-2010): The third-generation iDrive, known as the CIC (Car Information Computer), debuted in the E60 in 2009. This version marked a significant improvement over its predecessors, with a larger, higher-resolution 8.8-inch display, a redesigned controller with shortcut buttons, a faster processor, and a hard-drive-based navigation system. The CIC iDrive also introduced enhanced connectivity options, including Bluetooth audio streaming, USB input, and voice control. The updated interface, improved performance, and expanded features made the third-generation iDrive more user-friendly and enjoyable to use.

In summary, the iDrive system in the BMW E60 5 Series evolved from an ambitious but criticized first-generation version to a more refined, user-friendly system with the third-generation CIC. If iDrive functionality and features are important to you, it’s advisable to consider an E60 from 2009 or 2010, as these models are equipped with the most advanced and user-friendly version of iDrive available in the E60 generation.

What About Sound System Options?

The BMW E60 5 Series was offered with several sound system options throughout its production run, providing buyers with a choice of audio experiences tailored to their preferences. Here’s an overview of the main sound system options available in the E60:

  1. Standard Audio System: The base audio system in the E60 featured an AM/FM radio, a single-disc CD player, and six to eight speakers, depending on the specific model and market. This system provided decent sound quality for casual listening but may not satisfy audiophiles or those seeking a more immersive audio experience.
  2. BMW Business Radio: The BMW Business Radio was an optional upgrade from the base audio system. It added a few features like a more powerful amplifier and additional speakers, improving overall sound quality. In some markets, the Business Radio system also came with a 6-disc CD changer and enhanced audio controls.
  3. Logic7 Surround Sound System (also known as Harman Kardon or BMW Professional): The premium audio option for the E60 was the Logic7 Surround Sound System, which was developed by Harman Kardon. This system featured a 13-speaker setup, including two subwoofers located under the front seats, and a powerful 420-watt multi-channel digital amplifier. The Logic7 system utilized advanced processing algorithms to deliver an immersive surround sound experience and crystal-clear audio quality. The system was later renamed BMW Professional for certain markets.

When shopping for a used E60 5 Series, it’s essential to consider your audio preferences and requirements. If you’re an audiophile or enjoy a high-quality audio experience, look for a model equipped with the Logic7 Surround Sound System (also known as Harman Kardon or BMW Professional). If you’re content with a more basic audio setup, the standard audio system or BMW Business Radio may suffice.

What Are the E60 Must-Have Options

When shopping for a used BMW E60 5 Series, certain options and features can make the car more enjoyable and enhance the overall ownership experience. While preferences may vary, here are some must-have options to consider:

  1. Sport Package: This package typically includes sport seats, a sport-tuned suspension, and larger wheels, resulting in improved handling, performance, and overall driving dynamics. Some versions also come with a sport steering wheel and aesthetic upgrades, such as shadowline exterior trim.
  2. Premium Package: The Premium Package offers luxury and convenience features, such as a power-adjustable steering column, leather upholstery, and auto-dimming mirrors. Depending on the model year and market, this package may also include a universal garage door opener, ambient lighting, and Bluetooth connectivity.
  3. Cold Weather Package: For those living in colder climates, the Cold Weather Package is a must-have. This package usually includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and headlight washers. Some models also come with heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers.
  4. Navigation System: The iDrive system with navigation adds convenience and functionality to the E60’s infotainment system. Ideally, look for models equipped with the third-generation iDrive (CIC) from 2009-2010, as it offers significant improvements in user interface and performance.
  5. Logic7 Surround Sound System (also known as Harman Kardon or BMW Professional): This premium audio option provides an immersive listening experience with 13 speakers, a powerful amplifier, and advanced audio processing.
  6. Adaptive Headlights: This feature adjusts the direction of the headlights based on the steering angle and vehicle speed, improving visibility during nighttime driving and cornering.
  7. Parking Sensors (PDC): Parking Distance Control (PDC) uses sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect obstacles and provide audio and visual cues to assist with parking maneuvers.
  8. Comfort Access: This option allows for keyless entry and start, making it easier to unlock and start the car without having to take the key fob out of your pocket or purse.
  9. Active Steering: Active Steering adjusts the steering ratio based on vehicle speed and driving conditions, making the E60 more agile at low speeds and more stable at high speeds.
  10. Sunroof or Panoramic Moonroof: A sunroof or panoramic moonroof adds light and a sense of openness to the cabin, enhancing the overall driving experience.

Ultimately, the must-have options depend on your personal preferences and needs. Consider which features are most important to you and prioritize those when searching for a used E60 5 Series.

In the ever-evolving automotive landscape, technological advancements have led to a plethora of features and options designed to enhance driving comfort, safety, and performance. While these innovations have undoubtedly transformed our driving experiences, they also bring forth a thought-provoking question: Are older cars better off with less equipment?

When considering used vehicles like the BMW E60 5 Series, this question becomes particularly relevant. Features such as adaptive headlights, dynamic drive, active steering, and others undoubtedly contribute to an elevated driving experience. However, they also add complexity to the vehicle, leading to potential maintenance and repair challenges.

As cars age and accumulate miles, the likelihood of encountering issues with advanced systems increases. In some cases, the repair costs associated with these features can be prohibitively expensive, especially when compared to the car’s overall value. Additionally, older vehicles may lack the widespread availability of replacement parts and specialized knowledge required for servicing these advanced systems. This can lead to a frustrating and costly ownership experience for those who prioritize cutting-edge technology in their older vehicles.

Finding the right balance between desirable features and long-term reliability is key when shopping for a used E60 or any older car. This may involve weighing the benefits of advanced features against their potential repair costs and the complexity they add to the vehicle. It’s essential to consider which features truly enhance the driving experience and which may become a liability over time.

In many cases, older cars with simpler, more traditional equipment can offer a more satisfying and cost-effective ownership experience. Their reduced complexity often translates to lower maintenance costs and fewer potential issues, enabling owners to focus on the joy of driving rather than the stress of unexpected repairs. The charm of these older vehicles lies in their analog, visceral connection to the road—a quality that can sometimes be overshadowed by the abundance of modern technology.

Ultimately, the decision to prioritize advanced features or simplicity in an older vehicle comes down to personal preference and priorities. By carefully considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of each approach, prospective owners can make an informed choice and find the right balance for their unique automotive needs.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996, began his automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership located in Munich. With years of experience and dedication under his belt, Georg has garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW vehicles. His profound love for the brand led him to found BIMMERIST website, where he now shares his expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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