BMW 5 Series Sport Wagons

bonnie_rickbonnie_rick Member Posts: 115
edited March 2014 in BMW
to the front page of is our First
Drive of the 1999 BMW 540i Sport Wagon.

Watch for it, and then let us know what you think!

Community Manager


  • reBMWreBMW Member Posts: 26
    just how will i convince my wife that we should trade the 98 volvo v70 t-5 for a 99 540i sport wagon? arg.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Click on the picture to read Christian Wardlaw's review!


    KarenS/SW host
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    I own a 97 A6 Quattro wagon. When I purchased the V70 series had not been released in AWD and the BMW was still on the drawing board. My lease will be up soon. I like the 528i, but my guess is that it will light on leg room in the back. For the $$ I can through in a few more bucks and get a Land Cruiser. Persuade me to stay in a wagon. The land cruiser will still go 0-60 faster than the new audi wagon. The volvo, benz and bimmer are quicker, but where is the bang for the buck?
  • DogmanDogman Member Posts: 5
    I too will be purchasing a new vehicle within the year.I have a 93 Ford Explorer.There are a few factors to consider when deciding which one to get..what kind of uses will you have or need,purchasing budget,and to some degree fuel consumption.Insurance and operating costs(maintainance and parts)seem to be high for all autos at this end of the scale.The big SUV's(Suburban,Expedition,Navigator and Land Cruiser)use too much gas and just seem to massive.Maybe if your towing or hauling 6 to 8 people everyday.Thats why I like the sport wagons.I need all wheel drive for skiing so I'm considering the Volvo or Audi.How has your experience been with your wagon?Also BMW is coming out with an SUV but I have no details.
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    jeffrey lowe (a6wag) how slow is the a6? i looked for one in the summer (1995) and could not find many, and the ones i saw where too expensive for my budget. i ended up with the 95 bmw wagon and have been wonderfully pleased with the car. but with winter beckoning and the thought of placing chains, i'm having second thoughts about a awd auto wagon, but i like my engines strong and fast? would you buy a new a6 quattro or perhaps the smaller a4?
  • reBMWreBMW Member Posts: 26
    a6wagon: have you considered the difference in driving characteristics between a land cruiser and a bmw wagon? i would be interested to hear why you would buy the truck instead of the bmw wagon. I believe that when you opt for the bmw wagon you receive an excellant driving experience with a fair dose of utility as well. would you be willing to tell the community at large (us) why you would rather drive the truck than the car?
    dogman: do you really think all wheel drive is the substitute for chains? my experience says no but i wonder why you think otherwise(if you do)
  • cptmcfcptmcf Member Posts: 7
    I have a 99 VW Passat wagon. Like the writer who couldnt understand why the couple bought a Navigator, I cant understand why someone would spend 55K on the BMW when the can get a Passat for half that (also cant understand why the writer mentioned the Audi but not VW{same platform}). They compare it to the Audi which has the same platform to include the engine. I have leather, sunroof and tiptronic transmission and paid 22,700 on the road, Sticker 25,600.
  • jtrentjtrent Member Posts: 1
    If the Passat does indeed have potential for under $25K out the door, the Passat appears to stand alone in the value department for sport wagons. I looked at a new BMW 528i wagon which had a sticker of $47K (on a base price of $41K. To me, this means that in 3 years from now, an off-lease 528i would cost around $32K. The price/performance of the used BMW (with 1 year left on the warranty) would be attractive to me.
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    I would get the A4 avant if space is not a premium concern. The a6 is still way to slow for a "sport" wagon. My wagon goes 0 -60 in forever(11+ secs). If you are really looking for performance and AWD safety, check out the Volvo Products. My wife really loved the Volvo but we already had the Audi. I too looked at the 94 and 95 BWM touring wagons. The v8 was wonderful but the traction for winter was suspect at best. My brother in law has the 530i sedan and says that his car sucks in the snow. The real sleeper in this category is the Subaru Sport Wagon; reasonably priced, very sporty and extremely attractive.
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    My audi is a great car. my only issue is performance. it has been trouble free since day 1. If performance is the key, then stay focused on the Volvo. the price point is better as well unless roominess is not an issue. if not, then the a4 avant series is excellent. AWD safety and good performance.
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    reBMW: I have owned several sport utility vehicles in the past. when the grand cherokee first came out, my dad and I were on that band wagon. We then went to Land Rover discos because every one and their grandma had a jeep. I then went to the new Toyota 4Runner in 96. After driving those, I wanted to be different. I got the performance(somewhat) and versatility I was looking for, but the space wasn't there. My wife refurbishes old furniture and has put that on the back burner because many of the pieces she finds can't fit in the back of the wagon. After driving the new land cruiser there is a difference in the experience. First off the cruiser would beat my 97 a6 and the new 99 a6 avant 0-60, hands down. As far as room is concerned, my wife can put her finds in the back without worrying about wagon space constraints. Yes, the gas mileage is worse on the cruiser. Yes there is a longer stopping distance from 60 and yes, it is extremely slow in the slalom; but for overall versatility and utility, not to mention my 2 year old son who likes to climb, i'm in favor of the truck. I also do not like minivans which would be my only other choice. I hope this gives you some insight into why I would pick the truck over the sport wagon. Popular Mechanics summed it up best, "The Land Cruiser is the perfect blending of the qualities of a Lexus GS 400 performance sedan and Ivan Stewart's off-road Toyota race truck. In all situations, on or off road, it is capable, comfortable and solid. We found it the best." Besides, they are not that far apart in cost. A6 avants are hot in the chicago market and no dealers are dealing. most vehicles are coming in fully loaded which puts the sticker at 44K. I can get a land cruiser for 47K on a short sell over the web. You tell me what you would do? Wouldn't you go for more bang(size and utility) for your buck?
  • reBMWreBMW Member Posts: 26
    how appropriate to use the phrase bang for buck these days. :(

    your situation has me intrigued, but i wouldn't choose the truck as my new vehicle. instead i would ask if you have considered getting a used panel van ($$$ can be very reasonable) to support your wife's fledgling antiques business. with that particular need satisfied, you would be free to choose a vehicle with utility yet still very fun to drive. to further my rationalization, you would then not have to worry about large oopsies in your new fancy vehicle when hustling the furniture around. 'course my suspicion is that you enjoy your trucks and really just want a new one :)
  • DogmanDogman Member Posts: 5
    Why not buy a Winnebago,gut it and drop a semi tractor trailor engine in it? Where will this need for huge SUV's end? I drive by the BMW dealer almost everyday and that wagon sure looks sweet.The price has me hoping I'll win the lottery and it does not have awd but I'm going to include it also when I check out the Volvo and Audi.....I've taken an ice driving course in Colorado and have determined that awd and smart driving(slow down)can be relied on in bad weather.Chains should be used on 2wd vehicles in snow and all vehicles in severe conditions(hills or unplowed roads etc.)Since I only use the 4wd 4-6 times a year on ski trips the BMW will get serious consideration and have the guys chain up for the $20 they charge.
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    reBMW: you assessment is right on. A cheap van would be good for wife, who swears it does not matter what she drives. . . .But if I were to offer her a 85 Chevy Astro, I don't think she'd like it. And yes, I do want a new truck, Plain and simple. It is time. The wagon experiment was fun, but now it's back to the fad of the day, big ol' gas guzzlin', road hoggin' sport brutes!!!
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    a6wag, how bad does the 5 series suck in the snow, and is that with or without chains on the back wheels? having just purchased the car i'm keeping it for now. i'm also still quite fond of it.

    jtrent i agree with you, driving a truck (had a 92 4runner) was cool for about 6 months and soon thereafter became a laborious process.
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    dogman, good point. i have the 95 525t and love the darn thing. i've lookded at the 99 and bmw has done a swell job with the new wag. and indeed with only the use of 4wd 4 to 6 times a year, you should considered the 5 wag vs a truck.
  • a6wagona6wagon Member Posts: 19
    danielm: my wife drove it and was someone freaked out and thanked the good Lord up above for AWD. this was of course without chains. they are illegal in Illinois. my brother loves the car, but hates it in winter. i thought that the ASC option was supposed to help with those weather issues, but it doesn't. please don't feel bad about your purchase. i would get a 94 or 95 wagon in a heartbeat, especially the V8. its an awesome wagon!!!!
  • outback4meoutback4me Member Posts: 1
    i want a bmw wagon, but they cost so darn much. please...someone...are they not really so expensive!!! =-) i love them beamers. thanks
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    a6wag, point well taken. i live in northern california, so not much worry about snow being an issue as far as day to day driving is concerned. a bit of rain and that's pretty much it. but i do go to the sierras during ski season and that is of course my primary worry. otherwise the car is a gem, truly so, never for a second would you think that you're driving a staywag :-)
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    outback4, yes indeed they do cost a pretty penny and are not so cheap on the maintenance side either, but to drive one chap, is to dream. you paid for what you're getting. i looked at the outback as well, great car, practical and reliable, but its not a true driver's car, basically not as fun to drive, or as fast, or as corner friendly at 60 mph, but if you're heading for the mountains, you can drive. you get the point. but heck go test drive one just to get the feel. best of luck....
  • jim525itjim525it Member Posts: 2
    I picked up a '93 525iT last fall for less than a new Accord LX or used Accord V6 would cost. I now understand why the auto mags ALWAYS compare this or that sports car wannabe to a BMW 5 series!

    I am probably to cheap to buy a new BMW wagon, but I can highly recommend the breed. The 6-cylinder, 190Hp in my 535iT is not blazing off the line, but is respectably brisk. Where the wagon really shines is day-in day-out driving pleasure. It is always poised, handles crisply ( I avoided a large box on I285 in Atlanta with little warning and not much drama thanks to that BMW control from my trusty wagon at 80MPH in heavy traffic!) and hauls all the Cub Scout gear, etc.

    I will probably drive this one till it drops, or my 10yr old son steals it for his first car. Than I will be REALLY glad BMW has brought the wagon back so I can find another used one to wear out!
  • JPhamJPham Member Posts: 148
    Just wondering how much you paid for it and what did it cost you to get a "checkup" ... I've heard horror stories about how expensive it is to service Bimmers. I'd like to get a 525iT myself.

  • drum62erdrum62er Member Posts: 1
    I have had a530it for five years, and have enjoyed all that time. It is rather expensive to have serviced, but I like it and am thinking about one of the new 540i wagons. I also drive an Audi A8 4.2, and a Porsche 968 Cabriolet.
  • beemer1968beemer1968 Member Posts: 2
    Hallo everybody,
    The new 528i and 540i are the Sport Wagon!
    If you look for sporty driving and room you must
    take a testdrive in the new BMW.
    Everybody in the market for one, please feel free
    to get in contact with me at [email protected]
  • PeterunPeterun Member Posts: 83
    I had a silver 528i sport wagon on order . . .and was notified it was ready to be delivered . . took my dog's crate to the dealer in my SUV . . nope, no way . . . It was like Cinderella's sisters trying to squeeze it in the hatch. Went to Petco in an attempt to purchase a crate which might fit . . nope . . .only a small dog might work out in the BMW. Ended up with the Benz 320E, which in fact took my dog's original crate . .with tons of space to spare. Amazing, since 5 and the E are essentially the same length and width. The E does everything correctly . . . but I must say, I was smitten with the drive, the tightness of the 5. A full second slower on the 0-60 run though. Pete
  • reBMWreBMW Member Posts: 26
    perhaps that is the difference between an estate wagon and a sport wagon, no?
  • danielmdanielm Member Posts: 6
    beemer 1968, what have they done with the 99 wagons in terms of snow traction, and how does is it different from the 1995.

  • sreisbordsreisbord Member Posts: 1
    Hey Folks!

    I must say, I'm more then a little excited, that is....drum roll.....tomorrow we're taking delivery of a new 99 Sport Wagon 528i, complete with; Sport Premium Package, Moonroof, Heated seats, Rear seat package, Xenon Headlights, extendable rear floor, and automatic. The car is Orient Blue, with grey leather. Yowza!

    This will be my wifes car. I presently drive a 98 MB CLK 320. Before the CLK, I drove an 86 635csi for years and loved it. I still ride a BMW K75 bike, and love that too.

    This wagon is a real sleeper as far as I'm concerned. For every 20 sedans, BMW sells 1 wagon. The wagon is every bit as sporty as the sedan--but a bit more stealth. I personally think it looks every bit as good as the sedan too.

    To make matters sweeter, I think we're getting an excellent deal from BMW. On top of a pretty solid negotiated price, we also received a coupon from BMW for $1500.00. The deal was too good to pass up, and we'll now be driving our dream car!

    Happy motoring!
  • yfchungyfchung Member Posts: 2
    sreisbord: Could you tell me how much you paid for your bmw 528i and how did you negotiate the deal? I like the car, but it is pricey. If I can get a good deal, I may consider buying one.
  • jwkjwk Member Posts: 1
    sreisbord: after driving the 528i for a month are you still in love with it. What was the great deal, did the dealer come off sticker.
  • fiftyonefiftyone Member Posts: 3
    Having driven a '91 MB wagon for 6 satisfying years, then to a K2500 (4WD) 3/4 ton Chevy Suburban for the past 3 years ($250.00 total out of pocket maintenance) and an E320 All Wheel Drive MB sedan for the past 12 months (first service @ 11 months and 11,800 miles, cost $32.00), I'm considering a 540i or maybe a loaded 528i BMW wagon sometime in the next 30 days. I want a place for my yellow labs and a safe and quick way to transport them along with my wife, a five year old and occasionally a 13 year old who would rather fly and then meet us there. The BMW wagon would probably replace the suburban. I'm concerned about up keep/maintenance expense for the BMW. while the driving experience should equal or exceed the '79 Datsun/Nissan 300ZX of years gone by, I'm now reconsidering going back to a tried and true MB wagon after reading comments about cost of maintaining a BMW. All feedback to the cost of maintaining a BMW 5 series would be appreciated. The road between Scottsdale, Santa Barbara and San Francisco is 830 mils each way. A BMW or MB wagon??? not yet 51!
  • PeterunPeterun Member Posts: 83
    I can really identify with you, Fifty one. I wanted the BMW too, but found the interior much too tight for my needs. . .also have a Yellow Lab, Tyler. His crate could not fit. Couldn't make it into the Audi A6 Avant either. The Benz . . fits like a glove, interior space is HUGE, plus the benefit of the standard totally foldable and hidden rear seat, complete with cupholders. Have owned my '99 for 6 months now . . .not a single complaint. Plus, excellent gas mileage. . . My take. . . .Pete
  • PeterunPeterun Member Posts: 83
    This is James R. Healey's USA TODAY column, which appeared May 21st:

    You don't get that kind of joy in most sedans, let alone wagons. Enjoy it, because other aspects of the 5-series sport wagon can make you nuts. It is a "yes-but" car.

    Yes, it has the desirable solid, German feel, but the test car had a range of creaks, squeaks and rattles reminiscent of bad Detroit wagons of yore.

    Yes, the stereo sounds good, but the controls are unmarked. You know what they do only because of lighted hints on a display panel adjoining the buttons. It's a hard setup to read at a glance, and staring longer takes your gaze from the road.

    Yes, there's a clever optional ($380) panel in the cargo area that pulls back to accept bulky items, then slides forward to carry them inside the car with less struggle. It is conservatively rated to hold 160 pounds when cantilevered back past the bumper. But it cuts the height of the cargo area about 1 1/2 inches.

    Yes, the red instrument panel lights bathe the nighttime interior in sexy crimson. But they do not give the best vision to all eyes at all times. Yes, the heating/air conditioning system has hands-off automatic settings and filters the air. But it doesn't always adjust the air as you would, and even when manually overridden, it won't blend airflow among the three levels: floor, dashboard, windshield.

    Yes, the optional ($500) xenon headlights are spectacular at night. But they often annoy oncoming drivers.

    Yes, the engine seems powerful at low and moderate speeds and qualifies among the car's best features. But it seems to get breathless as it approaches the red-line danger zone on the tachometer.

    Yes, the automatic transmission is good in aggressive driving, but it inserts a troubling, no-power pause between shifts at low speeds. The gap is obvious enough to irritate the kind of sensitive drivers likely to favor such a car in the first place.

    Yes, there are cornering and stability control systems to help keep the car from skidding when you enter a turn too fast. But how far do you trust systems that override the driver's input and tap the brakes automatically at precarious moments and that depend on intricate and reliable coordination of data from sensors to save you from the ditch instead of putting you there?

    Yes, there is traction control to help compensate for a lack of all-wheel drive, and it easily got the test car going at slick stop signs. But it failed to get the wagon up a modestly sloped, weather-slick driveway, even with a run. Because it uses the brakes to control traction, all it did was slow the car on the slippery driveway, wiping out the advantage of momentum, eventually halting forward motion and allowing the car to start slipping backward.

    It's not just BMW. The same problem infects Mercedes-Benz M-class SUVs on icy highways. And it potentially will plague BMW's X5 because its four-wheel-drive system uses similar Big Brother electronics.

    Thank goodness "lesser" brands still use old-fashioned limited-slip differentials and mechanical transfer cases with gears and clutches to get traction to the wheels that can use it.

    The 540 sport wagon can be lovely to drive and is a wonderful poke in the eye to the notion that only dullards buy wagons. But to love the car as much as its terrific looks and its $41,000-and-way-up price will make you want to, you either have to be a confirmed BMW-phile or have a grand ability to dismiss annoyances as part of the car's personality.
  • fiftyonefiftyone Member Posts: 3
    Peterun. Thank you for the feedback. Can you mention if you were able to get MB to move on the price much? Also did you opt for 2 or 4 WD? Regards, not yet FIFTY-ONE
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Don't miss Edmund's Road Test: 1999 BMW 528i Sport Wagon. Come back here to offer your comments!

    KarenS/Wagons host
  • timmcguire1timmcguire1 Member Posts: 3
    When my '88 M3 was stolen from a shop, (another story), I bought a used '92 525iT to use while rennovating an old house - temporarily. I liked it so much I just replaced it with a used '95 530 iT,(with the V8). Never thought I'd be driving station wagons but things change and so do we, I guess.
  • MorganConradMorganConrad Member Posts: 21
    re: Edmund's review

    528s were too pricey for me, but I'd like to see some track times to judge performance and handling stats. So I can compare to my A4 Avant for "quickest wagon in the USA". :-)

    Maybe some turbo Volvo fits in here too. And I saw that somebody actually races an Accord wagon!
  • classgasclassgas Member Posts: 1
    I have a 94' BMW 530I Touring, which I bought new in July 1993. It has 65,000 miles on it, and it still looks and runs great.
  • thornthorn Member Posts: 91
    Check the new Car & Driver for a full test of Euro

    Needless to say, the two Swedes - Saab and Volvo -
    take the rear behind the superlative German wagons
    from Audi, Daimler and BMW. Volvo's Frigidaire
    styling is easily the worst.
  • sappenzellersappenzeller Member Posts: 5
    I just leased a 528iT wagon and could not be more thrilled with it. The handling is great (no noticeable difference from the sedan which I test drove extensively) and the interior space will be perfect for me when my twins are born in November. I also appreciate all the safety features and the crashworthiness of the 5 series (have to think of that stuff now that I will be a dad soon!). Fit and finish are also excellent. My only criticism is that the stereo is very poor for a nearly $50,000 car. Based on my initial experience with the car I would recommend the 5 series wagon to people looking for a fun yet practical alternative to a SUV.
  • emjremjr Member Posts: 1
    Is there anyone in here right now?
  • rachelbrachelb Member Posts: 3
    I am deciding between an A6 Avant and the BMW 528 sport wagon. The styling of the A6 is superior to that of the BMW, however the BMW drives like a dream. My concern with the BMW is the rear wheel drive, relative to the quattro in foul weather conditions. I live in Maryland so snow isn't a huge issue but we do get pelted with serious rain on occasion. Any thoughts? Also any thoughts on the safety of the third seat in a wagon? The A6 has one as an option the BMW does not, according to them because it is not safe in a rear end collision.
  • gclugclu Member Posts: 23

    Check out Topic #90 (Saab 9-5 wagon)posts 20-22 for some answers regarding this question. There are some other posts floating out there too (I can't remember where though).

    I recall reading in another message board elsewhere where this question was presented to one of the automakers. The cargo area is not the prefered area since it is in the cars "crumple zone." However, according to either Volvo (I think)or Audi, they have statistics from somewhere that says <10% of accidents are rear-end collisions. Furthermore, the alternative -- unrestrained kids in sitting in the cargo area -- is probably much worse in an accident.

    Regarding the traction:
    BMW's in general have an excellent all-speed traction control system. This should be more than adequate for where you live. If you believe the Car & Driver report a couple months ago about the benefits of AWD, then the only real advantage of the Audi AWD would be in the snow, going up a hill. (They actually did'nt compare AWD vs traction control, it was AWD vs snow tires. So some extrapolation of data is required)
  • mattmccmattmcc Member Posts: 1
    How much better is the performance of the the BMW wagon over the Audi A6Avant---and is it enough to outweigh the AWD advantage of the Audi plus its lower cost? Illinois winters can be brutal on traction--and snow repair bills.
  • bobewald1bobewald1 Member Posts: 2
    I have a question on the BMW 3series sport wagon. Is there any towing capacity? I have a couple of jetskis I'd like to bring on trips but the write up I saw on the 5 series said there was no approved tow package. Is the same true for the 3?
  • gerrylehmanngerrylehmann Member Posts: 3
    Bob, BMW has apparently for legal liability reasons choose not to rate their vehicles in this country (USA) for towing. I wouldn't be very concerned about jetskis. If you want to see the numbers try one of the BMW web pages in another country. I think both Canada and German (possibly British) pages all list tow ratings for the various models. You are correct that technically BMW doesn't approve any towing, but they do in other countries.
  • rachelbrachelb Member Posts: 3
    I hear that the scheduled service charges for BMW are high, however the 528i sport wagon we are considering has 3 years no-charge scheduled maintenance. Does anyone know what exactly that includes? Are there hidden costs involved that we will get hit with that are not part of the deal?
  • sappenzellersappenzeller Member Posts: 5
    It includes all maintenance the car will require during the first three years except "wear" items such as tires and brakes. It includes all oil changes, filter replacements and other service items the car will require. The interval for these services is determined by a computer on the car which tracks mileage, fuel consumption, driving conditions, etc. The interval for an oil change is typically at least 10,000 miles, which BMW says is ok because the new cars use more durable synthetic oil. However, if you think you may keep the car after the three year lease is up, it is probably cheap insurance to get another oil change (which you pay for) in between the scheduled ones. By the way, the car is great... I have about 6,000 trouble free miles on mine so far.
  • helainehelaine Member Posts: 2
    I am looking at the Mercedes E320 Wagon (no AWD) and the BMW 528iT sports wagon. Does anyone know the differences between the 1999 and 2000 models of these 2 cars? I read the Consumer Reports article already. Opinions out there on which to go with? I drove the 1999 A6 Audi Wagon really wanting to like it, but the pick-up was very slow. I just sold a 94 Volvo Turbo, and don't want another Volvo. Can you deal on a 1999 M E320 Wagon? Thanks
  • whitfiljwhitfilj Member Posts: 11
    I too just purchased a 528iT (with 5-sp stick shift!) after looking at the market alot. At the high end you have the BMW and Merc wagons and I think that they are worlds apart. The Merc is solid and huge (hold 7 people with 3rd seat), has great rear seat leg room and lots of cargo space. Drives more like a station wagon in that it feels hefty but accelerates well and has a nice ride. The BMW is much smaller, has less cargo/rear seat room and no third seat. The benefit of all of this is that it drives lighter and feels like a sedan instead of a wagon. So my recs are:
    need a wagon to haul a lot of kids/cargo--Merced
    need a wagon to occ haul people/stuff but LOVE to drive -BMW

    BTW I thought the audi was great except for the engine. if they had a more powerful engine I would have bought it. Finally if you are open to it, take a look at the Passat Wagon which has to be the value king in this segement and has a lot of the same German feel as the other wagons at half the price. Would have bought one if the dealer could have found a 5sp but after waiting for 6 weeks, I gave up.
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