Writing about luxurious BMWs is a weekly ritual on this blog. With all the information we’ve gathered in doing so, we feel it’s time to answer one of the biggest BMW questions out there: which BMW that’s currently available is best? Let’s start with a quick summary of this very detailed blog post:
The best BMW is the 5-series because it has an average lifespan of 250,000 miles, which is higher than other BMWs, while also having one the lowest annual maintenance cost at $825. Furthermore, the car has an MPG of 27, which is better than other BMWs and has 99 cu. ft. of passenger space comparable to that of BMW SUVs.
However, that certainly doesn’t answer the question wholly. Below, you can read our research on six critical factors that have helped us determine what BMW is best.
These factors include the lifespan of the cars, the average annual maintenance cost, the depreciation of each model, the performance, the combined miles per gallon, and the space that’s available in both the trunk and the passenger area. Finally, we’ve created a detailed conclusion about what BMW sedan/coupe is best and what BMW SUV is best. Read on!
What BMW Series Lasts The Longest?
First of all, we feel it’s essential to look at the lifespan of different BMWs. For all research in this article, we’ve only used the BMWs that are currently for sale in the United States. These include the 2,3,4,5,7, and 8-series, the X1 to X7, and the M3, M4, and M5. In most cases, these are the 2022 model years, in some cases the 2023 model years.
The iX is not included because there’s no historical data about this car, making it difficult to talk about its quality. In some cases, data about the X7 is also not available since this car was released in 2018.
Having said that, what BMW has the highest potential mileage? The data from this article is derived from this blog post in which we took a more in-depth look at different BMWs. We selected all BMWs of a specific model available for sale in the United States on autotrader.com. From there, we looked at what the highest mileages were and how many cars reached this mileage. The results are displayed in the image below.
We found a clear difference between the models that have a long lifespan and the ones that have a relatively short one. The 3,5,7-series and the X3, X5, and M3 all have a potential mileage of 200,000 miles or more. This indicates that these cars do have a very long lifespan. Given an average mileage of 13,500 miles per year, that would give these BMWs a lifespan of more than 14 years and ten months.
On the other hand, things start going downhill from there quickly. The X1, M4, and X6 still have a decent potential mileage of around 160,000 – 170,000 miles. However, the 2,4,8-series and the X4 perform terribly when it comes to their potential lifespan. All of them are well below 150,000 miles, and the 2-series maxes out at 110,000 miles, giving the car a lifespan of slightly over eight years.
Also read: This Is Where BMW And MINI Are Made
What BMW Series Costs The Least In Maintenance?
Besides knowing the potential lifespan of a BMW, it’s also essential to know how much these cars cost in terms of maintenance on an annual basis. In this blog post, we’ve already discussed the maintenance cost of BMWs in more detail. This data was gathered from repairpal.com.
We found that, on average, BMWs tend to have very high annual maintenance costs. As a group, BMWs cost $968 per year to maintain. In other blog posts, we compared BMWs to 26 different brands and found that this German brand is by far the most expensive to maintain.
However, there are, of course, differences within each brand, and the same is true for BMW. We’ve made a visual representation of all BMWs and their annual average maintenance cost in the image below.
We found here that, once again, the 3-series and 5-series seem to do very well. They have annual maintenance costs slightly below or slightly over $800 per year. That is, of course, still a considerable amount, but BMWs will be expensive no matter what you do; in the end, they are luxury cars that need to be maintained.
Did you know that the BMW 3-series is our top pick for first-time car owners that want a BMW? Read more about that here: Are BMWs Good First Cars And Which Is Best? (Explained)
Not surprisingly, the most expensive cars to maintain are the M-series and the largest SUVs. The M4 and the X7 aren’t included in this graph because there was too little data. But it can be assumed that these cars would also end up in the high range of the spectrum.
However, even though performance cars and SUVs will always be expensive in terms of maintenance, we feel BMWs’ costs are disproportional. Spending around $1,200 per year on maintenance is not something that should be considered normal.
Besides that, there’s one astonishing result in this image. That’s the maintenance costs of the BMW 4-series. Even though this series falls right between the 3- and 5-series (the cheapest in terms of maintenance), the 4-series seems to have some serious mechanical errors for it to cost well over $1,200 per year in maintenance.
What BMW Series Depreciates The Least?
In this blog post, we explained why BMWs depreciate so fast and what models do best and worst. We found that, again, there are significant differences between groups.
In the first year, the 2-series, 4-series, and 7-series depreciate a lot faster than other BMWs. These models lose 25%, 26%, and 27% of their value in the first year. On the other hand, the 3-series, X3, and X7 depreciate a lot less than other BMWs, with a loss of 19%, 19%, and 15% of their value. Please note that the data of the X7 in this graph is primarily estimated by caredge.com (the website where we got the data) because the X7 hasn’t been on the market for ten years yet.
After five years, the 7-series performs the worst. It has lost 52% of its value, respectively. On the other hand, the M2, X3, and X7 outperform the other BMWs since they have only lost 39%, 39%, and 33% of their value.
After ten years, the 7-series, M5, and X5 are the worst performers. They have lost 83%, 83%, and 81% of their value. On the other hand, the 2-series and M2 are the best performers and have ‘only’ lost 68% and 60% of their value.
Depending on whether you want to buy a new or used BMW, and when you want to sell it, different series can be the better choice. If you want to buy a new BMW and sell it after four years, the X3 and X7 will make you lose the least amount of money.
If you want to buy a used (5-year-old) BMW and sell it after another five years, the 2-,3-,4-series, or the M2 seem to be your best options since they will have the highest resale value after this time.
What BMW Delivers The Best Performance?
Besides all the cost-related factors, there are naturally going to be other factors that influence whether or not we consider a specific model of BMW to be ‘the best’. One of these factors is performance. There are multiple ways to calculate this. However, we’ve decided to go with the easy-to-understand 0-60 miles per hour time to get a feel for how fast each car is.
We found that the X-series are, by default, going to be slower than other kinds of BMW. This is because these are SUVs, and they have much more weight to carry. However, we do have to say that most of these cars still accelerate to 60mph between 5 – 6.5 seconds. That’s relatively quick for an SUV.
On the other hand, the M5 and M3, together with the 8-series, have the fastest 0-60mph times. These are the more luxurious, performance-oriented models, so no surprise here. However, the M4 is disappointing since it’s beaten by the regular 2-,3-, and 4-series.
In the end, we would say that all cars are relatively quick. However, if performance is on the top of your list, it’s probably best to go with one of the entry/mid-level sedans or the M3/M5 (heavily depending on your budget).
What BMW Has The Best Gas Mileage?
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s good to know how much gas your car will need to drive around. In general, BMWs aren’t known for their economic behavior. However, if you can get the most economical BMW anyway, why not?
When we reviewed the BMWs, we found some interesting statistics. First, it will be no surprise that the larger, more performance-oriented cars are the least economical. The heavier the car, the more the MPG suffers.
What is interesting is the following. First, the X6 is less economical than the X7, which is surprising. Also, the X3 is less economical than the X4. However, what I think is most interesting is that the 5-series (even though it’s still a rather sizeable sedan) is the most economical car of them all. This is something to take with us in our research since it again tells us the 5-series is a serious option to consider.
Which BMW Has The Most Space?
Finally, there’s the factor of space. How much space does each BMW have in the trunk and passengers area? Below, we’ve made two separate images for both these factors.
Let’s first discuss the space in the trunk. What becomes clear immediately is that the X7 has the most trunk space by a mile. This is mainly because this car has 7-seats, but when you flatten the 3rd row, the trunk space increases from 13 cubic feet to 49 cubic feet. Since all other cars only have 5-seats, we felt it was only fair for the X7 to use the cargo space when it has 5-seats as well.
Besides the X7, the first seven spots are all taken by the X-series (which will be no surprise). If you want a sedan with a lot of cargo space, the 7-series and 3-series are your best options. All other BMWs have around the same amount of space in the trunk.
Then, there’s the factor of passenger space. This is an essential factor for families with kids or people who need to take other people on the road regularly. Again, it will be no surprise that the X7 has the most passenger space; this directly results from the third row.
However, it is interesting to see that the 7-series still has more room than the other cars. We expected the larger SUVs to be in this spot. However, the X5 and X6 take the third and fourth spots. On the other hand, the 2-, 4-, and 8-series have much less passenger space than the other BMWs. All other cars are pretty close together.
So, what’s the conclusion here? If both cargo space and passenger space are of the utmost importance, you’re best off buying one of the larger SUVs (everything from the X3 and up seems to be fine). On the other hand, if you want a lot of space but are only willing to buy a sedan, the 7-series is your best bet.
What’s The Best BMW?
Now, we have to start concluding. However, we also realize that both the sedan/coupes and the SUVs are completely different cars that serve their purpose. Therefore, we’ve decided to split our conclusion into a category for both the sedan/coupes and the SUVs.
Best BMW Sedan
Overall, we would say that the BMW 5-series is the best BMW sedan you can buy. First of all, this primarily has to do with the fact that this BMW has the longest lifespan of all tested BMWs, and it also has one of the lowest maintenance costs out of all BMWs.
In our opinion, these factors are critical because they determine whether your BMW will be a money pit or not. Furthermore, the 5-series depreciates in a reasonably normal way compared to other BMWs. It’s not great at retaining value, but it’s also not terrible.
The car’s performance is decent, with a 0-60mph time of 5.2 seconds. Furthermore, the car is top-of-the-class in terms of its economic use, with a combined mpg of 27. The only category in which this car slightly underperforms is cargo space. Fourteen cubic feet isn’t all that bad, but it’s worse than the BMW’s lower and higher sedan series.
Finally, the 5-series does have a large amount of space for passengers, which matches some of the smaller and medium-size X-series.
Overall, we would say that if you don’t prefer a sedan or SUV, the 5-series is your best choice. It’s much more affordable and much more reliable than other BMWs while also meeting acceptable benchmarks in different categories.
Best BMW SUV
If you’re set on getting a BMW SUV, then, in our opinion, two options are close together. We’re talking about the BMW X3 and the BMW X5.
The reason why they’re close together is that they perform similarly in most categories. For example, the X5 has a slightly longer lifespan than the X3. However, the X5 has a somewhat higher maintenance cost than the X3. On the other hand, the X3 depreciates marginally less than the X5, and the X3 especially has a better resale value if you buy it new and sell it within four years.
However, the X5 has slightly better miles per gallon and is also marginally faster when accelerating. Finally, the X3 has slightly more trunk volume, whereas the X5 has somewhat more passenger volume.
When we dive a little deeper and look beyond the factors we’ve discussed, we start seeing some more differences. For example, the X5 has a towing capacity of 7,200 pounds, whereas the X3 maxes out at 4,400 pounds.
In terms of options, we see that heated front seats are standard on the X5 and an option on the X3. The X5 has keyless entry, whereas the X3 does not. However, the X3 has a 12-speaker audio system with Apple Carplay, whereas the X5 only has 10-speakers but does also have Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Our conclusion? If you’re looking for a more luxurious, larger car that needs to be used for towing purposes and money isn’t a limiting factor (it’s $15,000 more expensive than the X3), then the X5 is the way to go. If you don’t need to tow with the car, and money is a factor, then the X3 is probably best in most cases.