A grey 2023 BMW 5 Series sedan driving through the city to a BMW dealer.

The 6 Most Popular BMW Models and Why Drivers Flock to Them

BMW has long been known as a brand that makes performance cars with solid driving dynamics, and in recent years, it has branched out into SUVs and put a lot of focus on providing luxury interiors. With all of these various elements at play, and sometimes at odds with each other, which models will you find the biggest crowds flocking around if you look for a “BMW dealer near me,” and what exactly do they have to offer? Let’s take a close look at the brand’s six best-selling nameplates in 2023 and see what it is that gets them so much attention.

#1 – 5 Series (22,401 sold)

We’ll start with the midsize 5 Series. BMW’s cars go all the way up to the full-size 7 Series and 8 Series, but the 5 Series has wider appeal because it strikes a good balance between having a large interior space and a sleek exterior that’s not too hard to maneuver. While some generations of this model have put a little too much emphasis on comfort at the expense of feeling spry and exhilarating on the road, the best versions of the nameplate deliver a driver-forward experience that’s smooth and sporty.

Interestingly, the only way to get a BMW M version of the 5 Series in the 2024 model year is to opt for the all-electric i5 variant. The i5 M60 packs a punch with 593 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque, compared to the 375 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque produced by the 3.0L I-6 engine under the hood of the 540i xDrive. But stats aren’t everything, and an electric powertrain is just as likely to be a dealbreaker as an incentive, depending on the driver’s preferences. However, the high-performance M5 is set to return for the upcoming 2025 model year and may be the most powerful BMW ever.

The curved display screen in a 2024 BMW X7.

#2 – X7 (28,797 sold)

If you want a supersized BMW, look no further than the three-row X7 SUV. It may not have the most passenger space or cargo space in its class, but it has more than any other vehicle in BMW’s lineup. The people who opt for this model are looking for luxury first and foremost, and they’ll certainly find it here. A 631 hp version is available from BMW’s Alpina brand, with a turbocharged V8 engine and a top speed of 180 mph, but even BMW can’t turn a vehicle this size into a model that outdoes its more compact counterparts when it comes to handling. Instead, a lot of thought is put into making the X7 smooth and easy to drive, with standard air suspension and all-wheel drive across the lineup to provide traction and easy handling. Customers turning to the X7 are looking for a cavernous interior but aren’t willing to sacrifice ride quality in order to get it.

#3 – 3 Series (33,997 sold)

The BMW 3 Series has long been such an iconic sports sedan that you can think of it as the platonic ideal of its vehicle type. While it does have a fairly roomy cabin for its compact size, the 3 Series puts performance first and foremost when it comes to priorities. It’s designed to give the driver plenty of control with a low center of gravity that provides excellent handling. That’s good because the available powertrains deliver a lot of horsepower and torque, so you better be able to handle it.

While models like the 330i and M340i provide a smooth and quick ride, they won’t appease hardcore enthusiasts who think that you can only feel truly in control of a car with a manual transmission. But those drivers can also find something in the 3 Series lineup in the form of the M3. This track-ready performance car comes with a significantly higher price but has higher horsepower figures and extra equipment to match it. Overall, the 3 Series appeals to drivers who are longtime fans of BMW and are looking for the thrills that the brand built its image on decades ago.

#4 – 4 Series (50,777 sold)

While the 3 Series focuses most of its efforts on blending comfort and performance, the 4 Series has a strong emphasis on style as well. It has a unique grille design that gives it a sleeker face and a silhouette that’s sure to appeal to drivers looking for the sports car look and feel, even if it does come at the expense of a bit of interior space. Of course, who buys a coupe if a spacious interior is their main concern?

The classic 4 Series Coupe starts with the entry-level 430i and ranges up to the mighty M4, with powertrains throughout that deliver thrilling driving dynamics on the road. Drivers with an eye on the future can also get their kicks with the all-electric i4 lineup, which has its own range of options that include the rear-wheel drive eDrive models and xDrive models with dual-motor all-wheel drive. These include a BMW M model called the i4 M50, which delivers 536 hp and 586 lb-ft of torque as of the 2024 model year.

The four-door 4 Series Gran Coupe variant shares its layout with the i4 and offers a little more practicality for day-to-day driving but still keeps all of that distinctive styling. It also performs well and has its own BMW M variant with a heavier focus on driving dynamics and an extra-powerful engine. Those who seek out the 4 Series aren’t content with having great performance alone; they want a heavy dose of sports car styling to go along with it.

The black M Performance engine of a 2024 BMW X3.

#5 – X3 (63,172 sold)

There was a time when the concept of BMW making an SUV might have felt unthinkable, but with the North American market where it is today, there aren’t many automakers that can afford to stay out of the SUV game. The compact X3 may offer a higher vantage point for the driver and an open cargo area in the back, but it’s still small enough to corner well and has a low enough center of gravity to provide the handling that driving enthusiasts are looking for. The exterior has a diminutive grille and smooth curves, doing everything it can to avoid the boxy look that’s often associated with SUVs.

The core models of the X3 are within reach of drivers who like to spend their money on things other than cars now and then and provide a bit of a sporty vibe, but the real enthusiasts will be drawn to models that have an M in the name. The 2024 X3 M40i has a 382 hp I-6 paired with intelligent all-wheel drive for a fair amount of power and traction, but the proper X3 M has a 473 hp engine that brings the zero to 60 mph time down to under four seconds. With any variant, the X3 seems to be calling to owners of sports sedans who are ready to dip their toes into the world of SUVs but don’t want to dive right into the deep end.

#6 – X5 (72,573 sold)

The X5 was BMW’s very first SUV, and it has become the brand’s best-selling model by a wide margin. Slotting into the midsize segment, it offers two rows of spacious seating and a variety of different powertrains. The X5 has a luxury interior no matter what, but will only satisfy enthusiasts with its M models. At the top of the line, the 2024 X5 M Competition packs a twin-turbo V8 that produces 617 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, letting it go from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Powerful trims like this appeal to serious drivers looking for peak performance, while the core models are popular with families and drivers who are mostly interested in a comfortable ride and luxury interior but still want a bit of sports car flavor.