2021 BMW M550i xDrive new car reviews

Sitting at the top of the 5 Series lineup, but a step below the full-on M5, the BMW M550i acts like a sort of stop-gap or missing link between the M and non-M models of the 5 Series.

At least, it comes across that way on paper: The most powerful 5 Series without an M-badge is rated for 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. On the other end of the spectrum, the M5 is good for 600 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. Then, right in the middle, sits the M550i: 523 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque.

There's also the price to consider, as the M550i starts at $76,800, compared to the M5's $103,500—if you don't check off on any of the optional equipment on the build sheet, of course.

This numbers game is great and all, but what is the M550i like to drive? Read our driving impressions below:

Other staff views

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

The most important thing here? The 5 Series still looks like a BMW. It doesn’t sport those comical kidneys like so many of its siblings.

BMW, you made an absolute mockery of a cool styling characteristic that has defined the brand for decades. Seriously, does anyone think that the latest models look attractive? Even the 7 Series, a sleek sleeper for eons, now looks silly. Well, there’s always Audi and Mercedes.

So, back to the 5 Series. Until it gets a makeover, it’s still the total package.

It’s bigger without being too big, if you know what I mean. It’s roomy yet easily slips into a parking space. With the back seat down, it’s handy. We fit an Ikea TV stand–still in the box–into the back of our tester. Yes, it's bigger than a 3/4 Series, but sometimes that's okay. The rear seat room felt luxurious–well, compared to its smaller brethren.

The interior is standard BMW fare: comfortable, business-like, great steering wheel, supportive seats. It's a perfect road trip car, assuming, of course, it's in the budget.

It’s plenty quick, nearly silent and perfectly captures all that BMW-ness. There's something about how a BMW switch clicks. In fact, it got me to stop thinking about AMG Benzes for a few.

The big question: Why not an M5? Well, money? The M5 starts at $103,500. Our M550i carried a base MSRP of $76,800–but, with options, came in at $93,735, with nearly $2000 of that going to the paint alone. The Dynamic Handling Package added another $3600 to that tally. But the M550i still feels plenty fast without looking like a second-tier model.

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mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UltraDork
3/5/21 11:38 a.m.

Around here Tesla S killed the 5 series. I hardly see any m5 or 550 . One new m5 in my neighborhood 

you see lots of 530e. Los Angeles secretary  special lease of $430 a month. That is mostly because when Tesla model 3 came out, you couldn't lease them. But now that you can, 530e will also go on the way of the dodo

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/9/21 4:45 p.m.

Good point about Tesla upsetting the status quo in that segment. Still, I dig this kinda old-school BMW. It drives and looks like a BMW should. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
3/9/21 7:25 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

Around here Tesla S killed the 5 series. I hardly see any m5 or 550 . One new m5 in my neighborhood 

you see lots of 530e. Los Angeles secretary  special lease of $430 a month. That is mostly because when Tesla model 3 came out, you couldn't lease them. But now that you can, 530e will also go on the way of the dodo

My neighbor in LA has a 530e and a Tesla and I see him driving the BMW way more. Quoting him "The Tesla feels and rides like E36 M3 compared to the BMW"

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