2024 BMW i5 Review and Test Drive

The legendary sport sedan goes electric.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 M60Perry Stern


Is it an electric vehicle or not? That's the first question that comes to mind when approaching the new 2024 BMW 5 Series. This iconic sport sedan gets a complete redesign for the 2024 model year, and for the first time since its introduction in 1973, there's a choice of gas or electric powertrains.

Unlike how other car companies try to differentiate their electric vehicles (EVs) visually, the electric 2024 BMW i5 looks almost identical to its gas-powered sibling. That is BMW's approach to building EVs, and not only do the electrics share the same design as the gas-powered variants, they also roll off the same assembly line.

While the styling inside and out is practically identical between the 5 Series and i5, the powertrain choice is evident once you hit the start button. The electric i5 comes to life with high-tech sounds and exclusive animation on the wide display screen. As you set off, the electric motor (or motors) provides smooth and quiet power in a way that an internal combustion engine just can't replicate. Better yet, I'm pleased to confirm that the i5 still feels and performs like a BMW 5 Series, even with its new electric powertrain. And that's a good thing.

The i5 is the latest BMW model to move the company towards its goal of making half its global deliveries fully electric by 2030. The German company now offers a full range of battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), with the i5 joining the i4 and i7 in the electric luxury sedan lineup. BMW is already having success with its electric models, reporting that 15.1% of global sales for the BMW Group (including BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce) so far this year are battery electric vehicles.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 M60Perry Stern

2024 BMW i5 Prices Go High Not Low

The 2024 BMW i5 comes in two trim levels: eDrive40 and M60. Base prices range from the high $60,000s to the mid-$80,000s, including the destination charge to ship the car from the Dingolfing, Germany, factory that builds it to your local dealership. The i5 is not eligible for federal tax credits as it does not meet the made-in-the-United-States requirement.

For this BMW i5 review, I test-drove the M60 in Greenville, South Carolina, just outside the BMW manufacturing facility in Spartanburg. This electric sedan came with extra-cost paint, the Driving Assistance Pro, Premium, and M Sport Package Pro option packages, a Sky Lounge Roof, and 21-inch Aero Bi-Color wheels. These extras brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $94,995, including the $995 destination charge. BMW provided the vehicle for this i5 review and paid for airfare, lodging, and meals during the evaluation period.

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40Perry Stern

Designed to Be Electric

Though the new 5 Series and i5 share a platform, exterior styling, and interior design, BMW engineered the car from the start to be electric. As a result, the new 5 Series and the i5 are taller, longer, and broader than the previous-generation model, but they retain the proper sport-sedan proportions.

The familiar BMW kidney grille is more prominent, too, and available with illumination. The grille flows nicely into the sculpted hood, while the expressive LED headlights with vertical daytime running lights sweep back around the front corners. Slim LED taillights and a new rear fascia with an integrated diffuser provide a clean look at the rear. The i5's charge port is in the same location as the fuel filler in the gas-powered 530i.

Inside, you'll find the BMW Curved Display that is making its way throughout the automaker's lineup. The display includes a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel and a 14.9-inch central infotainment display. With most physical controls eliminated from the interior, the i5 features a clean, high-tech vibe, further enhanced by the illuminated Interaction Bar that flows around the cabin.

While I prefer old-school buttons and knobs for adjusting the climate control and other frequently used functions, the infotainment system is intuitive and easy to use. The cabin temperature controls are always on display and provide quick access to various functions, and you'll find the front and rear defrosters have separate controls in the Interaction Bar.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 back seatPerry Stern

The BMW i5 Has Veganza, but It's Not a Mash-Up Between Chevrolet and Daewoo

High-quality materials are evident throughout the i5's interior, with standard Veganza trimming the seats, door panels, dashboard, and steering wheel. Veganza is BMW's newest vegan leather alternative, and it has perforations and a quilted look just like genuine leather. If you want the real thing, BMW offers the i5 with Extended Merino leather. In addition, the multiple trim options include high-gloss carbon fiber, aluminum, and open-pore wood.

My BMW i5 M60 had standard sport seats trimmed in Veganza. It may not be natural leather, but it is soft and flexible. The front sport seats have good bolstering without feeling too snug, and they offer multiple adjustments. After several hours behind the wheel, the seat was still quite satisfying.

The rear seat is spacious, with plenty of legroom and headroom, making it a comfortable spot for two adults. Multiple USB ports and heated outboard seats add to the overall passenger satisfaction.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 cargo spacePerry Stern

Good Car Storage, but There Are Compromises

The i5 provides reasonable cabin storage space, including a wireless charging pad. One of the downsides of sharing a vehicle platform with the gas-powered 5 Series is the lack of open space below the center console that many EVs offer. While the i5 is a fully electric car, its platform must still dedicate space to the traditional driveline running from the 530i's internal combustion engine to the rear wheels.

It may not have the interior or cargo space, but the BMW i5 can handle a few pieces of luggage or a week's worth of groceries in its trunk. The i5 supplies 17.3 cubic-feet of cargo space, almost 1 cu-ft less than its gas-powered sibling. The rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, with release levers in the trunk to conveniently expand the available space.

2024 BMW i5 infotainmentPerry Stern

2024 BMW i5 iDrive 8.5 Sports an Intuitive Display and Interface

The 2024 BMW i5 gets the latest version of BMW's infotainment system, called iDrive 8.5. It uses the same large display as in other BMW models, and you can interact with it through the touchscreen, the familiar controller on the center console, and by voice. Thanks to a main home screen redesign and a new operating system, this version of iDrive gets the 8.5 upgrade.

Features of this advanced system include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Wireless Android Auto
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Navigation
  • Access to a 5G Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Natural voice recognition via Intelligent Personal Assistant

The new infotainment system puts scrollable information tiles on the left, overlaid on top of the navigation screen or a vehicle information page. After first use, it seems user friendly.

I quickly connected my Samsung Galaxy S23+ via Bluetooth and immediately received a prompt to launch Android Auto. From that point, Android Auto loaded every time I started up the i5. Most of the time, Android Auto worked fine, but there were a few occasions when it stopped responding. Turning the car off and on again would reset the system and solve the issue.

As with other BMWs I've driven, the natural voice technology proved itself one of the better systems on the market. You activate it via a button on the steering wheel or by saying, "Hey, BMW." Then, you can request directions, cabin temperature changes, radio stations, and more. For example, if you ask, the assistant can lower the windows, and the tech sounds friendly instead of robotic.

2024 BMW i5 configurable driver displayPerry Stern

Choose Your Own Way to Display

An i5 driver enjoys impressive levels of technology customization. In addition to changing the ambient lighting color and the information presented on the infotainment display, you can configure the digital instrument panel through content and layout style choices.

In addition, when the navigation system is active, it offers augmented reality, showing the front camera view with arrows to indicate the direction you should turn at an upcoming intersection or exit ramp. Drivers can also configure the head-up display with selected information and layout styles.

2024 BMW i5 highway assistPerry Stern

2024 BMW i5 Safety Features Include Highway Assistant

The 2024 BMW i5 features the latest advanced driver-assist features, but surprisingly, not all are standard.

All BMW i5s get these features:

  • Forward-collision warning with intersection assist
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Automatic reverse braking
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist

Notably, neither adaptive cruise control nor lane-centering assist are standard. However, my test vehicle had these features and BMW's Driving Assistance Professional package. That upgrade includes Active Driving Assistant Pro for partially automated driving and Highway Assistant, which allows hands-free driving in specific situations.

The Active Driving Assistant Pro maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead while assisting with steering to keep the car in the center of the lane. To use Highway Assistant, you must be traveling on a designated divided highway slower than 85 mph, and the navigation has to have an active route. (It also must be the native navigation; it won't work with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay maps.) The navigation requirement is surprising since it isn't required to use Ford BlueCruise or General Motors Super Cruise.

To test Highway Assist, I set the navigation and headed out onto Interstate 85 near the BMW Performance Center in Greer. Once you activate the system, lights turn green on the steering wheel, indicating the option to go hands free. The system works smoothly, staying centered with minimal corrections, even in turns. While there was considerable traffic, I still felt confident enough to let the car drive.

In previous versions of this system, a tap of the turn signal would direct the car to automatically change lanes, typically to go around a slower vehicle. That still works on the i5, but the newest system will suggest a lane change. To confirm, the driver just looks at the side mirror for the direction of the lane change. The car will then signal and change lanes when it's safe.

While this system is hands free, you must pay attention to the road and be ready to take over immediately. I received a warning to pay closer attention after just five seconds of looking away.

2024 BMW i5 Safety Ratings Not Yet Available

As of publication, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has performed crash tests on the 2024 BMW i5. For updates, check the NHTSA and IIHS websites.

2024 BMW i5 chargingPerry Stern

The i5 Is a Quiet and Powerful Midsize Luxury Sedan

While I had the opportunity to drive both variants of BMW's new i5, I spent most of my time in the high-performance M60. The i5 M60 features a dual-motor powertrain with a motor making 355 horsepower driving the rear wheels. A 257-hp motor powers the front wheels. The total output is 593 horsepower and 549 pound-feet of torque, but you can increase the torque to 605 lb-ft for an exciting 10 seconds with a pull of the boost paddle.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 M60Perry Stern

A Proper Sport Sedan Presents Itself

With the traction of all-wheel drive and immediate torque delivery, the i5 M60 is quite quick. Power comes on smooth and strong, and according to BMW, the four-door sedan will reach 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 143 mph.

One of the many advantages of driving an electric vehicle is efficiency, and the i5 is no exception. During my drive, the trip computer indicated an energy consumption rate of 2.6 miles per kWh, equating to 87.6 MPGe. This figure aligns with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate of 85/86/85 MPGe city/highway/combined for the 2024 BMW i5 M60 with 21-inch wheels.

The EPA estimates a range of 240 miles for the i5 M60. When I started my drive, the range indicator showed 182 miles remaining with a 72% battery charge, which is about 252 miles. For those looking for a more efficient version of the BMW i5, the single-motor eDrive40 averages 105 MPGe with a range of 295 miles.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 M60Perry Stern

While electric cars are inherently quiet, BMW provides an electronic soundtrack delivering a high-tech, sporty sound that ties in with the acceleration. It was fun initially, but I found it annoying after a while and turned it off. Otherwise, the cabin is quiet, with almost no road or wind noise.

Electric or not, the BMW i5 performs like a proper 5 Series, arguably the benchmark for a luxury sport sedan. The ride is comfortable and smooth, even when the road surface is less than stellar, and cruising on the freeway at 70 mph feels effortless.

At the same time, the i5 is great fun when tackling twisty back roads. The steering is precise with quick response, and the M60 always has plenty of power on tap. The sedan stays flat and stable in the corners, and excellent grip and plentiful torque provide quick exits onto the next straightaway.

BMW provided the opportunity to push the i5 to its limits on a closed-course racetrack at the company's Performance Center. I came away even more impressed with this vehicle's capability. Quick changes in direction, hard braking, and sudden elevation changes failed to unsettle the i5. This new electric BMW is a competent sport sedan.

Blue 2024 BMW i5 M60Perry Stern

The 2024 BMW i5 Is Setting the Bar

BMW continues to build electric vehicles that look and feel like their mainstream models, and the 2024 i5 is perhaps the best offering yet. It may have an electric powertrain, but the i5 is still a proper 5 Series. Though it faces serious competition from models such as the Lucid Air, Mercedes-Benz EQE, Porsche Taycan, and Tesla Model S, the luxurious and high-tech cabin, latest advanced driver-assist features, and capable handling and performance ensure the i5 helps to set the bar for future sport sedans.

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Perry Stern
I have loved cars and trucks since childhood, and that fascination with anything that drives is just as strong today. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to become an automotive journalist, and during the past three decades, I have driven, written about, and photographed all manner of automobiles ranging from affordable econocars to exotic supercars. With the idea that there is a perfect car, truck, or SUV for everyone, my goal is to help consumers determine the right one for their wants and needs.