Car Review: BMW 530e is a plug-in hybrid that’s still fun to drive

When you think of luxury mid-size sedans, the BMW 5 series usually comes to mind. There are many BMW 5 series variants. There is the wild 600hp M5, which we looked at before. This time, it is the sensible BMW 530e plug-in hybrid, which allows for 22 miles of electric operation.

The car has added power for this year when you choose the 530e version. You get a 30hp bump over the gas only 530i. This plug-in feels quick using the sport mode when both the gas engine and electric motor come to play. On the other hand, it is a quiet cruiser, knocking out the daily commute on all electric power. The 530e was a comfortable highway cruiser averaging about 45 mpg, running on a mix of gas and electric power, on a trip to West Virginia and back. Run battery control to allow recharging on the highway, allowing for electric operation on slower roads.

The 2021 5 series received a front-end makeover this year. Those kidney grills are bigger, but luckily, they stay above the bumper and do not follow the style of the smaller BMW 3-and 4-series models. The 5 series has the classic, if not more conservative, look than some others do in the luxury market. The 19” M sport wheels and the optional M sport package add a sportier styling than you think a hybrid would have.

Inside, the 530e comes nicely equipped before you add the options. A larger 12.3” touch screen display and the iDrive control is easier to use than I remember. Live Cockpit Pro replaces the normal gauge cluster with a virtual instrumentation. I would suggest spending some extra money on the Luxury seating package that adds great multi-contour seats that makes long trips easier.


Cost: $57,200; as tested $70,485

MPG: 64 MPGe;  26 MPG, I managed 39.8 mpg in 673 miles of mixed driving with 159 miles electric

Safety: Active cruise control with braking function; dynamic stability control; active driving assistant pro with active blind spot detection; active park distance control & parking assistant plus; head-up display; Adaptive full LED lighting & auto high beams; surround view with 3D view; extended traffic jam assistant; drive recorder; front & rear head protection system.

Options: $550 Phytonic blue metallic; $2,500 Ivory white nappa leather; $1,700 driving assistance package; $550 shadowline package; $1,000 luxury seating package; $2,500 M sport package; $800 parking assistance package; $1,850 premium package; $650 M sport brakes with blue calipers; $190 heated steering wheel.

Things to know: The 2021 BMW 530e helps you baby step toward an electric future. The Active Driving Pro helps change lanes when using the cruise control.


  • A power boost for the 530e makes this a quick plug-in hybrid
  • Comfortable interior with large touch screen and virtual instruments
  • Classic styling with a fresh front-end design


  • You give up a little of the large trunk space for battery storage
  • Gets pricey quickly when you add the options
  • Some might find the classic styling lost in a sea of luxury sedans

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