BMW 5 Series Touring Review
The BMW 5 Series Touring has a lovely cabin, superb infotainment and is great to drive. A Mercedes E-Class is slightly comfier, though, and has a bigger boot.
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The BMW 5 Series Touring is a large luxury estate car that’s better to drive than a Mercedes E-Class Estate or Audi A6 Avant, while also being comfortable, high quality and spacious inside.
It’s a bit like buying a Louis Vuitton backpack – you enjoy the finer things in life, but you also like a dose of practicality.
The 5’s exterior is a little bland next to its alternatives, but its interior is excellent. While it doesn’t have the visual interest of a Mercedes E-Class or Volvo V90, the quality materials and clean design mean it feels very upmarket. It’s the same as the saloon version’s cabin, although it’s lighter inside as there’s more glass at the back.
In 2020 BMW updated the 5 Series with a larger 12.3-inch infotainment system, so it’s one of the best around. It’s controlled with a rotary dial on the centre console, and the menus are easy to navigate. It even comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now, too, plus there’s a digital display instead of traditional dials.
The BMW’s front seats have plenty of adjustment and are soft and comfortable, so the 5 Series is great for long trips. Lumbar support is now standard, where it was an option in previous years, so you can be sure you’ll find a good position. Visibility is good too, and a reversing camera means there’s no issue seeing out the back either.
Passengers will be glad to hear that the back seats are almost as spacious as those in the front. While the middle seat is a bit hard and narrow, the two outer seats have enough legroom and headroom for very tall adults to get comfortable even on a long drive. It almost feels like overkill for a family car, as kids have endless room in the back of a 5 Series.
If driving pleasure comes before outright boot space, then the 5 Series Touring will be more up your street than an E-Class Estate.
The Touring’s 570-litre boot is a better shape than the saloon’s, and its hatchback opening means it’s much easier to load up. You can easily fit a couple of large suitcases and extra soft bags inside, and there’s room under the floor to store valuables as well. There’s even a handy feature on the tailgate that lets you open up just the glass section, which is superb for grabbing items off the top without having to open the whole hatch.
A three-way (40:20:40) split on the rear seats means you can carry a mixture of luggage and passengers with ease, and folding them all down reveals a flat 1,700-litre load bay. It’s not quite as big as a Mercedes E-Class Estate, but it’s still big enough for a bike (or two if you get creative).
There are fewer versions of the 5 Series in Touring form than the saloon, but all the best engines are available. On the diesel side, there’s the excellent 520d, which is punchy and efficient, as well as the six-cylinder 530d. If you prefer petrol there’s the 520i and 540i, as well as the plug-in hybrid 530e model that also has an electric motor and battery pack. All non-plug-in cars now have mild-hybrid tech, too.
The 5 Series Touring is just as good to drive as the saloon version, which means it’s grippy and fun in the corners, yet smooth and comfortable on rough roads and motorways. It has a near-perfect balance of these attributes. It makes a brilliant long-distance cruiser, yet it’s also smooth around town and easy to drive.
So, if you’re after an executive or luxury car that can carry a whole family and their luggage on holidays and long trips, the 5 Series Touring should be near the top of your list. Head to our deals page to find the best prices.
The 5 Series Touring has generous space for passengers and a decent boot, although if you want the biggest boot going, you’ll need a Mercedes E-Class Estate.
There’s loads of adjustment to help you get comfy in the driver’s seat – even if you’re six-feet tall. Plus, adjustable lumbar support – to help reduce back ache on long journeys – is now standard on the 2020 5 Series.
The back seats are almost as spacious as those in front. There’s loads of leg room and the Touring’s flatter roof means there’s a touch more headroom than you’ll get in the saloon. You can get an optional panoramic glass roof to make the back seats feel even airier but it’s quite expensive.
The 5 Series Touring is better for carrying three in the back than an E-Class Estate but the rather hard central seat and large lump in the floor will make long journeys fairly uncomfortable for tall passengers in the middle.
Fitting a child seat is a breeze thanks to the 5 Series wide door openings and clearly marked Isofix anchor points. There aren’t any annoying removable covers to worry about and there’s plenty of space to lift in a bulky rear-facing seat, too.
You’ll find loads of handy cubby holes in the 5 Series Touring’s cabin. All four door bins are large enough to hold a large water bottle and you can squeeze a second smaller bottle in the front doors, too.
The glovebox is also big enough to hold a large bottle and you get a storage bin under the front armrest for storing a few valuables out of sight. The cupholders are reasonably generous and you can get a slot under the dashboard that’ll wirelessly charge your smartphone, although this is an optional extra.
The folding rear armrests come with two fold-out cupholders but they’ll struggle to hold anything larger than a can of pop. There’s also a small storage tray between the front seats and a pair of aeroplane-style folding seat pockets instead of the usual netted fabric items.
The 5 Series Touring can carry 570 litres of luggage in the boot with all five seats in place, which is 40 more than the 5 Series saloon but a Mercedes E-Class Estate is bigger overall. The 5 is still big enough to easily carry a baby stroller or a few large suitcases and some soft bags, however.
The BMW’s low boot lip and wide opening make it easy to load heavy or bulky items and you can flip the rear windscreen up to quickly chuck in a few small items without opening the boot. There’s also a removable divider behind the back seats, which is handy if you have a few boisterous dogs.
You get three-way (40:20:40) split rear seats as standard so you can carry two passengers in the back and some long luggage in the boot at once. All the seats down electrically using the switches in the boot to open up a completely flat 1,700-litre load bay. It’s smaller than the 1,820-litre boot in the E-Class Estate but bigger than both the 1,680-litre A6 Avant and 1,526-litre Volvo V90.
There’s more than enough room to carry a bike with its wheels attached and you get a few handy tether hooks to hold your luggage securely in place.
The BMW 5 Series Touring is more fun to drive than its alternatives, but if you value outright comfort, then an E-Class estate is slightly cushier over bumps.
You can get the 5 Series Touring with two diesel and two petrol engines, plus a new plug-in hybrid version. All versions come with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard and xDrive models get four-wheel drive, though we’d avoid these unless you live somewhere where it snows often.
The entry-level 520i model is quiet and smooth, and should return around 40mpg in the 5 Series Touring. It’s not the best choice, though, as it lacks the luxury of the larger engines yet isn’t as economical as the 520d diesel.
The 520d will be a better bet if you spend lots of time on the motorway. They’re reasonably quiet at speed and (officially) return over 52mpg. Pick an xDrive model with four-wheel drive and you’ll lose out by a few miles per gallon, however. New mild hybrid tech means all the engines are more efficient as of 2020, since there’s a small electric motor that recharges under braking and adds a small boost to the engine.
BMW’s six-cylinder models are well worth considering if you can stomach the extra cost. Both the 530d diesel and 540i petrol are smoother and more powerful than their four-cylinder counterparts, yet return only a little worse fuel economy. The 540i model is seriously fast, too – it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in a shade over five seconds.
The new 530e model is a plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of around 30 miles, so commuters with a short drive to work should be able to charge up at home and never have to use fuel to get to work. There’s still a petrol engine in case you need to do a longer trip, so it could work for some buyers, but not others.
The standard eight-speed automatic is excellent, and responds almost instantly to the steering-wheel-mounted paddles – unlike the slightly sluggish ‘box in a Volvo V90. It shifts smoothly too, so most of the time you won’t notice gear changes in auto mode.
The 5 Series Touring is a large car, so it won’t fit in every parking space, but as it’s easier to see out of than the saloon – thanks to its larger back windows and taller rear windscreen – it’s easy enough to drive.
You get front and rear parking sensors as standard so it’s not too tricky to manoeuvre into a tight space, and a reversing camera is standard on all cars now, too. You can also add a 3D surround view system that displays a rendered image of your car in its surroundings. It is pretty expensive but it makes it a breeze to slot your large estate into tight parking spaces.
Plus, the optional Smart Key comes with a feature that’ll let you remotely drive the car forwards and backwards over short distances – just like a giant radio-controlled toy. It’s especially handy if someone’s parked a little too close for you to climb in easily.
The 5 Series Touring is as good to drive as the saloon, which means it has a brilliantly balanced suspension set-up that irons out bumps in the road, yet the car still feels agile in corners. Adaptive suspension is available on the options list too, which lets you choose from softer or stiffer modes on the centre console.
M Sport models come with sportier suspension and large alloy wheels, which means they’re not quite as good at dealing with potholes. However all 5 Series models are great on the motorway, save for a bit of tyre roar on models with the biggest wheels.
The 5 Series saloon received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2017, and this rating can be reasonably applied to the Touring estate as well. The Driver Assistance plus pack is a pricey optional extra but it comes with adaptive cruise control that’ll even steer for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the wheel.
The 5 Series Touring has a high-quality cabin and one of the best infotainment systems on sale. a Mercedes E-Class has more flair to its design inside, mind you.