BMW 3 Series vs 5 Series: Head-to-Head Comparison

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Deciding between the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series can be a tough call. Both models are top sellers in the US and offer luxurious features and a comfortable ride.

So, which one should you choose?

As you weigh your options, consider your priorities and budget. The 3 Series, being the more affordable option, might appeal to you due to its competitive pricing.

On the other hand, the 5 Series offers additional refinement and features that you might find worth the extra expense.

Take the time to test drive both models, compare their specifications, and decide which one best suits your needs and desires.

In the end, the choice between the BMW 3 Series and the 5 Series is ultimately yours to make. Before you proceed, check this related BMW 3 series vs 4 series gran coupe cars!

BMW 3 Series vs 5 Series

Overview of BMW 3 Series and 5 Series

History and Background

Your passion for BMW luxury sedans brings you here, to the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series. The 3 Series has a storied history dating back to 1975.

It’s been on the market for seven generations, with the latest version, the G20, introduced in 2018. The 5 Series, introduced earlier in 1972, has also seen seven generations, the latest being the G30, which debuted in 2017.

Body Styles and Variants

Over the years, the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series have evolved through various body styles and variants to cater to your diverse needs. The BMW 3 Series includes the following options.

  • Sedan
  • Wagon
  • Gran Turismo (GT)
  • M3 Performance Sedan

The BMW 5 Series, on the other hand, offers these choices.

  • Sedan
  • Gran Turismo (GT)
  • M5 Performance Sedan

Both the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series are hailed as role models for the luxury sedan market with their redesigned exteriors, capturing the attention of drivers like you with their signature BMW details, including the iconic kidney grille and two tailpipes at the back.

Your quest for the perfect BMW sedan will surely lead you to appreciate each series’ unique attributes and the driving experience they provide.

TIPS: We detailed all your answers about 2-series vs 3 on this guide: BMW 2 Series Vs 3 Series: What Should Be Your Pick?

Performance and Driving Experience

Engine and Powertrain Options

The BMW 3 Series and 5 Series offer a variety of engine options to suit your preferences. In the 3 Series, you can choose from a 2.0L TwinPower turbo 4-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and 294 lb/ft of torque.

On the other hand, the 5 Series provides options such as the 530i with its 2.0L TwinPower turbo petrol engine, or the M550i model for a more powerful performance.

Handling and Suspension

When it comes to handling, both BMW models offer a refined and engaging driving experience.

The 3 Series features a slightly firmer suspension compared to the 5 Series, which translates to a sportier feel.

This may be ideal if you prefer a more agile and responsive drive. The 5 Series, however, provides a more comfortable ride while still maintaining impressive handling capabilities.

Fuel Economy and Efficiency

Efficiency is a factor to consider when comparing these two models. Both the 3 Series and 5 Series have options like hybrid models, which can deliver improved fuel economy.

For example, the 520d version of the 5 Series is an efficient choice among diesel engine options, while the 520i offers an economical petrol engine alternative.

Drivetrain and Transmission

Both BMW 3 Series and 5 Series are equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers seamless shifts and driving dynamics.

Additionally, both models are available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, providing enhanced traction and control in various weather and road conditions.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the option of xDrive allows you to tailor your driving experience to your own preferences and needs.

Exterior and Interior Design

Size and Dimensions

When comparing the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, you’ll notice differences in size and dimensions.

The 5 Series is a midsize family sedan, offering you more interior space and cargo room than the compact-sized 3 Series. While having a larger presence on the road, the 5 Series dimensions also slightly affect its weight.

Styling and Aesthetics

As for the design, both models showcase the sleek and sophisticated style BMW is known for. You can expect beautiful curves and sharp lines in both the exterior and interior designs.

Inside the 5 Series, you will find luxurious touches as standard, such as leather seats. The moonroof is also a common feature across various trims in both series, providing an even more pleasant driving experience.

Standard and Optional Exterior Colors

BMW offers a variety of exterior colors for you to choose from when personalizing your 3 Series or 5 Series.

Available colors include Arctic Race Blue Metallic, Individual Dravit Grey Metallic, and Priority 1 Tanzanite Blue II Metallic.

Of course, classic options like black are also available. Entry-level models come with a more limited color selection, but you can still find an option that fits your tastes.

Interior Comfort and Features

Seating and Passenger Space

Both the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series offer impressive passenger comfort with their luxurious seating options.

You’ll enjoy extra legroom in the 5 Series compared to the 3 Series, especially for rear-seat passengers.

Infotainment and Connectivity

The infotainment systems in these vehicles are designed for your convenience.

Both cars come equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity for seamless integration with your smartphone.

Additionally, you can upgrade to a Harman Kardon sound system for a premium audio experience.

Upholstery and Interior Material Options

You’ll have several choices for upholstery and materials in both the 3 Series and 5 Series vehicles. Standard options include Black, Canberra Beige, Cognac, and Tacora Red perforated SensaTec upholstery.

Dakota leather is available in Black, Cognac, and Ivory White, while optional styles include Vernasca and Nappa leather in various colors.

Cargo and Storage Options

When it comes to cargo space, the BMW 5 Series boasts a more spacious trunk with 14.5 cubic feet to store your belongings on longer trips.

Both BMW saloons have ample room for luggage and everyday items, ensuring maximum convenience as you drive.

Safety Features and Reliability

Safety Equipment and Technologies

In both the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, you’ll find numerous advanced safety features, such as multiple airbags, stability and traction control systems, and driver assistance technologies.

These luxury sedans come equipped with modern innovations like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and collision detection to enhance your driving experience.

Crash Test Ratings and Performance

As a driver of these luxury sedans, you can feel confident in their performance when it comes to crash test ratings.

Both the 3 Series and 5 Series offer strong, secure chassis, and have received impressive scores in various crash tests. This ensures the utmost protection for you and passengers in the event of an accident.

Warranty and Reliability

The 3 Series and 5 Series are also known for their reliability. BMW offers a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, which includes coverage for any issues resulting from corrosion.

Additionally, scheduled maintenance visits are included for the first four years to help keep your luxury sedan in top condition.

Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with owning a BMW, knowing that the manufacturer supports the safety and performance of their vehicles.

Variants and Pricing

BMW 3 Series Trims and Prices

When considering the BMW 3 Series, you’ll find a variety of trims to choose from. The 2021 base model 330i starts at $41,250.

For an additional $2,000, you can opt for the xDrive 330i, featuring BMW’s all-wheel drive technology.

The 3 Series has other options as well, including wagon and convertible styles. Styling and wheelbase vary depending on your chosen trim, but the core design remains consistent throughout.

BMW 5 Series Trims and Prices

In contrast, the BMW 5 Series begins at a higher price point. The 2021 base model 530i starts at $54,200. As with the 3 Series, you’ll find various trims with unique features and styling elements.

However, the 5 Series primarily focuses on sedans, excluding wagon and convertible variants.

In both the 3 and 5 Series, wheel designs and sizes will differ, allowing you to personalize your vehicle’s aesthetics. With these options at your disposal, you can find a BMW fit for your taste and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between the 3 Series and 5 Series?

The BMW 3 Series is generally smaller, more affordable, and has a slightly better fuel economy than the 5 Series.

On the other hand, the 5 Series offers more trim options and is a larger vehicle, providing additional space and comfort for passengers.

Which is more comfortable for passengers: 3 Series or 5 Series?

The 5 Series is bigger than the 3 Series, offering more room and enhanced comfort for passengers. With its larger size, the 5 Series provides a more luxurious and spacious experience.

Is the performance of the 3 Series significantly different from the 5 Series?

Both the 3 Series and the 5 Series offer powerful engines. The 3 Series has a base engine with 255 horsepower and 294 lb/ft of torque, while the 5 Series comes with a base engine producing 248 horsepower and 257 lb/ft of torque.

Although the performance differences are not substantial, the 3 Series has a slight edge in terms of power.

Which series offers better fuel efficiency: 3 or 5?

The 3 Series is more fuel-efficient than the 5 Series, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking for better fuel economy.

How do the interiors of the 3 Series and 5 Series compare?

Both series offer high-quality interiors with luxurious materials and advanced technology. However, the 5 Series typically comes with more premium features and amenities, contributing to a higher level of luxury and comfort.

What are the price differences between the 3 Series and the 5 Series?

The 3 Series has a lower starting price compared to the 5 Series, making it more accessible for a wider range of buyers. However, the 5 Series offers more trim options, allowing for a more customized, luxurious experience at a higher price point.


Car Brand Logo Design

23 Car Brands with Ownership Benefits Worth Dying For

Owning a car is vital in today’s world. A suitable vehicle can significantly enhance your daily routine. With a constantly changing market and numerous brands available, knowing which ones provide superior ownership benefits is crucial.
Nissan Titan

Buyer Beware: 33 Most Unreliable Japanese Cars to AVOID at All Costs

Japanese cars are known for reliability and lasting performance, attracting drivers worldwide. However, not every used Japanese car meets these high standards. Some have been marred by mechanical issues, recalls, and age. This article is
BMW 6 Series Convertible

28 Cars Average-Income Earners Must Avoid

Driving off the lot in a new car feels great, but for average earners, it’s a major financial choice that can make or break your budget. Some cars seem like a deal but end up


Sign up now to get the email newsletter and exclusive deals weekly.