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BMW used the same philosophy on most of its car lines: Design a sophisticated front-engine/rear-drive car, then fit it with a variety of drivelines to create different models across a broad price range. It had done this with the compact 3-series, the large 7-series and the midsize 5-Series as well (since 1972).

Competitors for these BMWs ranged from Chrysler's LHS to Mercedes' E420, including such mid-price luxury models as the Lexus GS 300 and the Infiniti J30.

At the beginning of the E28 generation (1983-1988), there were two engine sizes: 528e and 533i, the latter being replaced by a 535i in 1985, when a new 524td engine was also introduced for only two model years.

In 1987, a new 535is was released, followed by the M5 in 1988.

The E34 generation began in 1989. The 528e was replaced by a new 525i, while the 535i and 535is merged to one engine size (535i), and the M5 was dropped.

Year-to-year changes[]

1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Discontinued
525i 4DR Sedan 528i 4DR Sedan 2000
535i 4DR Sedan 530i 4DR Sedan
N/A 525i 4DR Wagon N/A 528i 4DR Wagon 2000
N/A 530i 4DR Wagon
M5 4DR Sedan 540i 4DR Sedan 2001
N/A 540i 4DR Wagon 1999

1991[]

The entry-level 5-series sedan, the 525i, shared its 189-hp 2.5-liter inline Six and 5-speed gearbox with the smaller 325i. The 535i had a 3.4-liter I6 engine with 208 horsepower. The M5 was brought back this model year with an even bigger 3.5-liter I6 engine with 310 horsepower.

1993[]

A station wagon version of the 525i was released, but BMW preferred to call it a "Touring" model.

1994[]

In 1994, two new trim levels replaced the old 535i and M5. The 530i, available in both sedan and wagon body styles for the first time, had a torquey 215-hp 3.0-liter V8; while the top-line 540i, available only as a 4-door sedan, had a 282-hp 4.0-liter version of this same engine. A 6-speed manual transmission was optional on the 540i.

The 540i was a high-performance sport sedan in the $50,000 range. It was fast, had superb handling, excellent brakes and was as comfortable as any other midsize luxury sedan. Comfort is something you don't always get when a car's emphasis is on "sport" rather than "luxury."

BMW's AST computerized traction control was standard on the 530i Touring station wagon and available on all other 5-series models. The 530i Touring wagon also included a unique dual sunroof as standard, optional on the less expensive 525i Touring.

1996[]

During this model year, the 1995 models -- 525i, 530i, 540i, 540i Sport and their Touring (wagon) counterparts -- continued into '96 until the new 1997 models were ready for the showroom.

1997[]

BMW introduced an all-new 5-series line for 1997, consisting of just two sedans: the 528i, powered by a 190-hp 2.8-liter inline 6-cylinder engine, and the 540i, powered by the new 282-hp 4.4-liter V8.

Transmission choices for the new 5-series included a standard 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic on the 528i. On the 540i was a 5-speed automatic unless the option sheet was checked for the available 6-speed manual gearbox. Four-wheel disc antilock brakes transmitted stopping forces through a front strut/rear multilink suspension riding on the 528i's 15-inch or the 540i's 16-inch or optional 17-inch wheels. Other safety features included dual airbags, with front-seat door-mounted side airbags arriving later. In 1997, the 5-series faced installation of hose-shaped airbags mounted in the roof frame at head level.

Notable interior amenities included three choices of fabric or leather, automatic dual-zone climate control and height- and depth-adjustable lumbar supports for the front seats. As with all 1996 BMWs, the 5-series cars received Coded Driveaway Protection as standard equipment. Each time the key was removed from the ignition, the engine electronics would be disabled and the key code changed, making theft possible only with the key or by towing the car.

Retail prices[]

4DR Sedan[]

Model year(s) Engine size List price Destination charge Effective date
1991 2.5L $34,500 $375 February 10, 1991
1991 3.5L $42,600 $375 February 10, 1991
1991 3.5L (M5) $56,600 $375 February 10, 1991
1992 2.5L $35,600 $375 October 13, 1991
1992 3.5L $44,350 $375 October 13, 1991
1992 3.5L (M5) $58,600 $375 March 1, 1992
1993 2.5L $37,100 $405 December 1992
1993 3.5L $44,350 $405 December 1992
1993 3.5L (M5) $60,700 $405 December 1992
1994 2.5L $34,900 $450 Q1 1994
1994 3.0L $41,500 $450 Q1 1994
1994 4.0L $47,500 $450 Q1 1994
1995 2.5L $35,300 $470 October 1994
1995 3.0L $41,750 $470 October 1994
1995 4.0L $47,950 $470 October 1994
1995-1996 2.5L $36,500 $570 May 22, 1995
1995-1996 3.0L $44,400 $570 May 22, 1995
1995-1996 4.0L $49,000 $570 May 22, 1995
1997 2.8L $37,900 $570 April 29, 1996
1997 4.4L $49,900 $570 April 29, 1996
1997 2.8L $38,900 $570 July 27, 1997
1997 4.4L (540iA) $49,900 $570 July 27, 1997
1997 4.4L (540i 6M) $52,350 $570 July 27, 1997

As of 2017, a modern-day BMW 3-Series costs as much as an early 90's BMW 5-Series.

4DR Wagon[]

Model year(s) Engine size List price Destination charge Effective date
1992 2.5L $38,600 $375 March 1, 1992
1993 2.5L $39,800 $405 December 1992
1994 2.5L $37,300 $450 Q1 1994
1994 3.0L $45,800 $450 Q1 1994
1995 2.5L $37,700 $470 October 1994
1995 3.0L $47,050 $470 October 1994
1995.5 2.5L $38,900 $570 May 22, 1995
1995.5 3.0L $48,600 $570 May 22, 1995
1999 2.8L $40,700 $570 Q3 1998
1999 4.4L $53,480 $570 Q3 1998

Gallery[]

Video Clips[]

BMW_525i_4DR_Wagon

BMW 525i 4DR Wagon

BMW_540i_4DR_Sedan

BMW 540i 4DR Sedan