2018 BMW 530e

Style

The looks of the 2020 BMW 530e plug-in hybrid match the gas-powered versions of the 5-Series. The entire lineup went through a mid-cycle design refresh for 2020. The visual changes are minor—slightly modified headlights, a more aggressive lower grille opening, and a sportier mesh-grille insert. (A full 5-Series redesign is planned for 2021.)

The plug-in is distinguished from the rest of the 5-Series lineup mostly by the charging-port door on the driver-side front fender. On the inside, drivers will also find an eDrive button next to the gear selector and slightly different graphics on the digital instrument display.

Performance

The 530e uses BMW’s eDrive system, combining a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-four with an electric motor and a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. (The bump to the bigger 12-kWh battery is found in all the BMW plug-in sedans.) Reviewers praise BMW plug-in hybrids for smooth transitions between gas and electric propulsion.

The 530e is available as a rear-wheel-drive model or as the all-wheel-drive 530e xDrive iPerformance. Both systems output 252 horsepower through a combination of the 184-hp two-liter engine and a 113-hp electric motor—integrated into an 8-speed Steptronic transmission. The top speed while traveling purely on electrons is 87 miles per hour. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour occurs in just under six seconds in both models.

There are three different hybrid modes. In AUTO eDrive, the car decides the most efficient settings between battery power and gasoline-derived motivation, depending on the driving conditions. Select MAX eDrive to emphasize the electric side of the powertrain—forcing the gasoline engine to stay off until the battery is depleted or if speeds exceed the electric limit. Drivers can save energy in the battery for later use by selecting the Save Battery mode. These hybrid modes are in addition to BMW settings that alter the responsiveness of the gas engine—from Eco Pro for maximum efficiency to Comfort and Sport options.

The hybrid’s battery pack is positioned low and to the rear, providing a weight distribution that improves upon the already excellent handling of 5-Series variants. The battery contributes to a low center of gravity.

Efficiency/Range

The BMW 530e iPerformance’s 12-kWh pack is good for about 21 miles of all-electric driving in the rear-wheel-drive version. Go for the improved traction of all-wheel-drive, and the all-electric range drops to 19 miles.

When there is enough charge in the battery to allow for a combination of gas and electricity, the EPA fuel economy rating is 69 MPGe. The AWD version is slightly less efficient at 27 MPGe. After the battery is depleted, the rating drops to a respectable 27 and 25 mpg, respectively for RWD and AWD versions. Similarly, the total range is 350 and 330 miles respectively.

2018 BMW 530e

Passenger/Cargo Room

The 530e’s big battery pack slightly encroaches into the sedan’s trunk space, reducing cargo volume from 19 cubic feet (in gas versions) to 15 cubes in the plug-in hybrid. (The gas tank is also smaller—dropping from 18 to 12 gallons.)

The 530e has a flat-load trunk floor and retains split fold-down rear seats. Tall front-row passengers who push their seat back have a minor impact on back seat legroom. The trunk has room for about eight bags of groceries.

Reviewers give the 530e high praise for a gorgeous interior and dashboard controls that are well designed. Like other 5-Series vehicles, the car’s interior feels luxurious with rich materials. That is matched by abundant high-tech features, including a self-driving tech package (that adds about $1,700 to the sticker.)

Charging

Charging times are standard for plug-in hybrids at 3.7 kilowatts. It takes about 3.5 hours from a 240-volt charging station to fully replenish the 12-kWh pack after being fully depleted.

For a select group of customers who sign up, BMW will add a quasi-experimental wireless inductive charging pad to the mix, making it easy to roll into your garage or driveway and automatically charge without having to plug in. It modestly reduces the charging rate to 3.2 kilowatts—perhaps adding another 30 minutes to a full charge. This wireless option might be available only in certain states.

2018 BMW 530e

Price

The 530e iPerformance, as well as the all-wheel-drive 530e xDrive variant, are among the rare battery-powered vehicles that are significantly less expensive than its gas-powered sibling. That’s right. The ability to go electric for the first 20 or so miles reduces the price!

BMW’s website lists the rear-wheel-drive model at $54,895—a price that’s identical to the 530i sedan. The 530e X-Drive adds $2,300 for all-wheel performance, lifting the priced to $57,195. But you have to consider the impact of the $5,836 federal tax credit, as well as state rebates such as the $1,500 perk offered in California.

Standard features include Frontal Collision Warning w/ City Collision Mitigation, Active Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, In-Dash Navigation, Park Distance Control, Apple CarPlay Compatibility, Moonroof, Sport Seats, Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster, and Keyless Passive entry.

The long list of options includes massaging seats and a power trunk lid. Special colors, finishes, and wood grains can add several thousand dollars to the price. The cost gets even higher with the Premium package (with heads-up display and gesture control) and Executive features such as soft-close automatic doors, heated seats, and automatic high beams.

BMW 530e iPerformance specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $54900
Est. tax credit: $5800
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: Sedan
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 21 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 12 kWh
Charging rate: 3.7 kW

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