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2024 BMW i5 Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
May 13, 2024
2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

There are three ways to make an electric luxury sedan. One is to build something futuristic and sleek, crafted to maximize airflow, reduce wasted space under the hood, and say proudly “I am different” – like a Mercedes-Benz EQE. Another is to build something distinct from any gas model without highlighting the fact that it’s electric – like an Audi e-tron GT. 

You’ll find the third approach in the 2024 BMW i5, an all-new fully electric model. Its classic “kidney” grille is blacked-out plastic – no need for airflow – but it otherwise shares its body with the redesigned BMW 5 Series mid-size luxury sedan. For this review, we just spent a week testing the 2024 BMW i5. If you’re interested in the benefits of an electric car without needing to announce yourself as an EV driver, keep reading to learn if the new i5 could be the right fit for you.  

Costs Less Than the Competition

BMWs aren’t known as bargains, but the i5 is a surprising exception – costing less than its top competitors like the EQE, e-Tron GT, Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, and Genesis Electrified G80. It starts at $66,800 for the rear-wheel-drive 335-horsepower eDrive40 like our test vehicle, $70,100 for the all-wheel drive 389-hp xDrive40, and $84,100 for the AWD 590-hp M60. 

It’s easy to swell that price tag with expensive options. Our test vehicle hit $78,995 including the $995 destination charge. But we could have painlessly skipped the M Sport appearance package ($3,000) and 21-inch wheels ($1,800). Standard equipment already includes a Harman Kardon premium stereo, GPS navigation, a moonroof, a wireless smartphone charger, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, so there’s no “stripped down” base model. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Up to 295 Miles per Charge

Electric vehicles’ biggest limitation for many buyers is their range per charge. The i5 won’t go across the country without recharging, but it can travel an EPA-estimated 295 miles per charge in its most economical form. That’s the eDrive40 with the base 19-inch wheels, which the EPA pegs at the equivalent of 105 mpg. With 20-inch wheels, range drops to 278 miles at 99 MPGe, and our test vehicle’s 21-inchers drop the estimate to 270 miles and 96 MPGe. Our test vehicle was on track to edge out its EPA estimate and travel 285 miles. 

Meanwhile, the AWD xDrive40 varies from 248 to 266 miles per charge, and the M60 gets 240 to 256 miles. Still, even the least economical M60 with 21-inch wheels gets the equivalent of 85 mpg – exceptional for a luxury sedan, especially one with the i5’s speed. Just keep in mind for long freeway drives that, like most EVs, the i5’s range and efficiency drops at steady highway speeds. If you do take a long trip, expect to recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent capacity within about 30 minutes at a public fast-charging station. On a 240-volt outlet like you’ll find at some public stations or at home, it takes about 10 hours to get from empty to full, so you can always leave home with a full charge. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Smooth and Silent Drive

BMW likes to say it produces the “ultimate driving machines,” and prints that slogan on the i5’s window sticker just like its gas-powered vehicles. And if you like speed, the i5 outperforms gas-only 5 Series models. The eDrive40 zips to 60 mph in 5.7 near-silent seconds, the xDrive40 takes just 5.2 seconds, and the M60 needs a mere 3.7 seconds. A selectable Boost Mode unlocks maximum juice while keeping things calmer in normal operation. Some EVs are even faster, but by nearly any standard, this is a quick sports sedan. 

The rest of the experience is more about sophisticated refinement than thrilling performance. The i5 is serenely smooth and quiet, even with our test car’s optional jumbo wheels and sport suspension. It handles well, too, with its big electric battery bringing down its center of gravity. But while responsive, the steering felt numb and artificial to us even in the selectable Sport mode. BMW hasn’t built the mid-size luxury EV for driving enthusiasts – not driving enthusiasts who love precise, communicative steering when they tackle a winding road, at least. It has built a highly capable, highly comfortable isolation chamber. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

5 Series Design

The i5’s conservative shape backs up BMW’s decision to focus on relaxing comfort rather than blood-pumping driving thrills. As we mentioned, it’s shared with the gas-only 5 Series except for some trim details – notably the grille, as we mentioned. And even in that case, BMW paints on a pattern that resembles grille slats. And no 5 Series, gas and electric, is built to turn heads. 

Sure, a BMW grille signifies luxury. And our test vehicle won’t fly under the radar with huge wheels with the intricate pattern of a snowflake. But aside from those decorations, this is a conservative mid-size sedan. The upright roof is shaped for big windows rather than an aggressive design or maximum aerodynamics. The sedan’s clean sides don’t have trendy creases or other wild shapes, and the rear end has slim, simple taillights. Critics might complain that the i5 simply looks dull and dated, but others will welcome BMW’s decision to avoid too much flash. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

5 Series Interior, Digital Edition

Inside, the i5 has more of an utlramodern vibe – though it’s one shared with the new digital-heavy 5 Series, not anything specific to BMW’s electric models. 

A big screen spans two-thirds of the dashboard, standing upright like a hillside billboard. This panel includes the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and the 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen. This is an angular design that’s the opposite style of the curvier but equally screen-focused Mercedes-Benz EQE. And it has more complementary physical controls, both on the lower dashboard and the center console between the front seats, than a screen-focused Tesla. We found the i5’s infotainment system to work well, with responsive performance, intuitive controls, and a focus on clarity over pizzazz. The system also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, unlike many EVs. Still, it would have been even easier with a few more buttons, such as for the seat heaters, which require a careful tap on the right part of the screen. In a nifty touch, the cabin’s trim is backlit in different colors depending on your drive mode. It also has the sumptuous materials and intricate assembly that we’d expect from a BMW luxury sedan.

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Coddling Cabin

The i5 also knows how to coddle. That means supremely comfortable, supportive front seats with available heating, ventilation, and myriad ways to adjust the cushions to meet your needs. We were a little surprised that BMW didn’t choose to offer massaging seats, though. 

The backseat doesn’t have much extra legroom when the front seats are far back, but the cushion is shaped well and also offers heating and sunshades for both the side windows and rear windshield. It’s a better place to ride than in an Audi e-Tron GT. And for more legroom, BMW will happily offer you a full-size i7 electric sedan. BMW does quote an extra-large 17.3-cubic-foot trunk in the i5, which includes a seemingly small main luggage area plus a bonus cargo hold beneath the trunk floor. It’s a great spot to keep a spare charging cable out of the way, or to hide valuables. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Two Close Competitors

While the electric mid-size luxury sedan segment seems like a tiny niche, the i5 has a wide variety of rivals. Its closest would be the segment-creating Tesla Model S and its fellow German Mercedes-Benz EQE. 

The Tesla offers incredible specifications – even the base model rockets to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and travels 402 miles per charge – along with the cargo flexibility of a liftback body style. But the aging Model S doesn’t drive with the polished precision of a modern luxury sedan, especially if you value comfort and quietness over raw speed. Meanwhile, the EQE drives more like the i5 but looks nothing like it. The Benz is an aerodynamic pod that could only be an electric car. Also, both the Tesla and Mercedes start above $70,000. 

2022 Mercedes Benz EQE 500 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Mercedes Benz EQE 500 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

The Rest of the Field

We’d also shop the i5 against the Genesis Electrified G80. Like the i5, it’s a conventional luxury sedan with an electric motor, and it focuses on serenity and build quality. The Korean EV is supremely built and, to our eyes, is lovely to look at. It’s also roomier than the i5 until you get to its tiny trunk. But even accounting for the Electrified G80’s extra standard features and quicker acceleration, it may be hard to accept its higher starting price than the BMW. Another alternative is the posh yet futuristic Lucid Air, which can easily top $100,000 but whose base models overlap with the plainer, smaller-looking i5. You might also consider the Audi e-Tron GT and its Porsche Taycan cousin. They have the driving pleasure some BMW buyers might have expected from the i5, but they have smaller interiors, bumpier rides, and less range. 

Two other EVs we’ll mention are the Hyundai Ioniq 6 (a sleek sedan with a budget badge but high-end driving manners) and BMW’s own i4 (a compact liftback with sprightlier driving manners and more cargo space than the i5). 

2023 Genesis Electrified G80 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Genesis Electrified G80 ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Final Thoughts

Amid all those electric luxury sedans, we’re confident you’ll find the right one for you. And its comfort, refinement, and unexpectedly aggressive pricing help give the i5 a promising edge over the competition. 

Any electric car requires a place to charge up, ideally at home for the most convenience and lowest cost. And even the i5 M60 isn’t the dominant EV on the drag strip. But the i5 uses its electrification to make a better luxury sedan by the traditional metrics of effortless, relaxed, peaceful driving. It’s quick without making noise, and it never requires a visit to the gas station. If you favor comfort over performance and are ready to give up gas, the 2024 BMW i5 is a compelling luxury sedan. 

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 BMW i5 eDrive40 ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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