Compared: 2023 BMW 3 Series vs. 2023 BMW 5 Series

Spring for the passenger-oriented 5 Series or stick with the sporty 3 Series.

Split image of a 2023 BMW M340i xDrive in gray atop a BMW 5 Series in blueBMW


BMW and sport sedans go together about as well as peas in a pod. Models such as the 3 Series and 5 Series have long histories of being industry benchmarks for driving dynamics, so if you're after a responsive, luxurious, high-tech four-door sedan, you might want to start your search at BMW.

Not only has the 3 Series been a benchmark for sport sedans, but it's also the go-to entry-level Bimmer. But some higher-end 3 Series models overlap in price with the bigger, more luxurious 5 Series, leaving some shoppers curious about which one might be better for their needs.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive in gray, rearBMW

In Terms of Pricing, 5 Is Greater Than 3

For the entry-level 330i model, a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) sedan that uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 255 horsepower, pricing begins below $45,000. Adding xDrive all-wheel drive (AWD) is an extra $2,000, while opting for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the 3 Series is an extra $1,100. Shoppers can choose the six-cylinder-equipped M340i making 382 horsepower — it starts above $57,000 — while the AWD M340i xDrive will set you back closer to $59,000.

The 5 Series on the other hand, starts just a bit cheaper than the M340i. With RWD, four-cylinder, 248-hp 530i models sticker at almost $57,000, while the PHEV 530e is an extra $1,600. Shoppers can opt for the 335-hp six-cylinder 540i, which starts just under $64,000. Adding AWD is an extra $2,300. The 523-hp, V8-equipped M550i comes with standard AWD as well as a relatively steep asking price of more than $82,000.

BMW 5 Series in blue, rearBMW

3 Series Is Roomier Than 5 Series in One Area

Despite the longer wheelbase of the 5 Series, its front legroom measures 0.6 inches shorter compared with the 3 Series. Otherwise, the 5 Series' interior dimensions are more accommodating, helping its cabin feel like a solid choice for those who are regularly ferrying passengers.

Beyond the added interior space, the 5 Series features an older infotainment system with a smaller screen. However, there are more interior-focused options in the 5 Series, such as fancy nappa leather and the Luxury Seating Package, which adds 20-way power adjustable, vented seats.

2023 BMW M340i interior in redBMW

Wide Fuel-Efficiency Spectrum With the 3 Series and 5 Series

The PHEV models of the 3 and 5 Series are the most fuel efficient. The 330e is EPA rated to return 73 MPGe with 22 miles of all-electric range, while the AWD version delivers 68 MPGe and 20 miles. The 530e is only good for 64 MPGe and 21 miles, while AWD models manage 62 MPGe and 18 miles of all-electric range.

Comparing the fuel efficiency of the four-cylinder versions of the 3 Series and 5 Series shows a slight advantage to the smaller sedan, with the 330i offering 25/34/29 mpg city/highway/combined and the 530i returning 25/33/28 mpg. Surprisingly, the six-cylinder models twist this story, with the 540i rated at 25/32/27 mpg and the M340i at 23/31/26 mpg. Somehow the AWD M340i xDrive is 1 mpg more efficient on the highway at its 23/32/26 mpg, while the 540i xDrive drops down to 22/29/25 mpg.

BMW 5 Series interior in whiteBMW

Though it packs plenty of punch, the V8-equipped M550i drinks fuel at just 17/25/20 mpg.

All vehicle pricing includes MSRP plus destination charges (set at the time of publication), and will be rounded to the nearest thousand.

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Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.