BMW 7 Series

2017 BMW 7 Series

The BMW 7 Series is in its sixth generation, after a technological leap for 2016, including engineering learned from the i electric car. Todays 7 Series uses carbon fiber in the chassis, saving 90 pounds. Aluminum doors, trunk lid and suspension help bring the balance to a perfect 50/50, front/rear weight distribution. Thats saying a lot, for a big car, and the handling of the BMW 740i backs it up.

For 2017, the BMW 740i is available with all-wheel drive. Also new is the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive with a twin-turbo V12 making 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque BMW claims can blast to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds. Also new for 2017: the Alpina B7 xDrive with Integral Active Steering that combines variable ratio electric steering system at the front axle with active steering on the rear axle, while blasting to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds.

Most popular is the BMW 740i, which uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 making 320 horsepower, a sweet engine. The 750i packs a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 making 445 horsepower, mated to a silky 8-speed automatic transmission, pulling zero to sixty in 4.3 seconds.

The technological leap this latest-generation BMW 7 Series made was mostly in electronic chassis control. The steering, throttle, suspension and transmission can be set in three modes, Sport, Comfort and Comfort Plus settings. On all models, a complex system called Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview adds anticipatory functions to the active chassis with air suspension, while the Integral Active Steering (variable-ratio rear-wheel steering) now comes with all-wheel drive. The automatic transmission downshifts on its own, based on what the navigation system tells the transmission about the road ahead, for example a hill. We wonder why anyone would want their car to do this. Were not sure we want our transmission shifting based on a nav system thats lost half the time.

The 7 Series hasnt been crash-tested because its a low-volume product. Standard safety equipment is bountiful, from active headlamps to active headrests to rearview camera. Optional safety equipment includes everything night vision to a watchdog sensor that flashes a coffee cup if it sees you getting tired.

Driver Assistance Plus Package II includes adaptive cruise control, active lane-keep assist, Side Collision Avoidance, and Traffic Jam Assistant. It provides semi-autonomous driving, following cars ahead and providing steering assistance to keep the car in its lane.


2014 BMW 7 Series

BMW's biggest sedan got a number of changes for 2013, led by improvements in horsepower and efficiency to the two most popular engines: the inline-6 and V8. An 8-speed automatic transmission also debuted.

For 2014, new features are added to BMW's suite of connectivity/convenience services, including Assist eCall, TeleServices, advanced real-time traffic information, and enhanced USB/Bluetooth. All 2014 BMW 7 Series models except the Active Hybrid and Alpina gain a Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster, which permits a customized view based on Driving Dynamics Control settings. Navigation includes an iDrive touchpad controller, and the Comfort Access keyless entry adds a smart-closing feature for 2014.

The 2014 BMW 7 Series comes with two wheelbases, four engines, and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Prices range from about $74,000 to nearly twice that.

In addition to the inline-6 and V8 engines, there's a V12 and a hybrid powertrain, all of them turbocharged. The six-cylinder and the V8 come with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Active Hybrid 7 (which mates with an inline-6) and V12 sedans only come in long-wheelbase versions.

The 2014 BMW 740i is our choice because its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 is so sweet, and it delivers quick acceleration with 315 horsepower and 330 foot-pounds of torque from 1300 to 4500 rpm.

The 2014 BMW 750i contains a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, delivering 445 horsepower. The V12 makes 535 horsepower, allowing the BMW 750Li to drive around in a sensational silky rocket world of its own.

The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 uses a lithium-ion battery in the trunk powering a 55-hp electric motor, and it makes more horsepower (350) than the base 740i. The ActiveHybrid 7 is rated 22/30 mpg by the EPA, which is not so great for a hybrid.

After a few hundred miles in a BMW 750Li, we concluded that the 8-speed transmission is quick, smooth and smart. It offers a manual-shifting feature.

As for the 7 Series ride, you won't find flaws there, either. You can tune it yourself, using the Dynamic Driving knob with four settings: Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. They control the damper stiffness, throttle response, steering response, transmission response, and stability control.

There's also an Eco Pro mode, which we used for casual driving. We were never inconvenienced by the dialed-back power, and were astounded by the fuel mileage: 19.4 miles per gallon in this 445-horsepower V8 that weighs 4660 pounds, while driven over mountain roads as well as around town.

The only bad part about driving the 7 Series was the bewildering electronics and hysterical safety warnings. We'd say they drove us crazy, except we were already half-crazy from the others, including Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

From a dynamic standpoint, the 7 Series is a satisfying machine to operate: superbly comfortable and quiet, and quick and agile for a sedan of its size and weight. Naturally, the V12 is swifter than the inline-6, but the six-cylinder is quick enough.

From a non-dynamic perspective, however, driving can be frustrating, because engineers and designers attempted to re-invent and BMW-ize so many things. They made some items, such as the gimmicky gear selector and rearview camera, problematic when they're in fact simple.

The BMW 7 Series interior offers the best that contemporary automobile craftsmanship and technology have to offer. Each 7 Series model delivers the luxurious feeling that cars in this class are supposed to create. Comfort is superb in the front or rear seat, especially in an Li model with its longer wheelbase and 4.4 more inches of rear legroom. The 740i and 750i models with the standard wheelbase still have good legroom (38.9 inches): enough for adults up to six feet tall without cramping.

Also new for 2014 is a long-wheelbase, all-wheel-drive 740Ld xDrive sedan with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder engine that develops 255 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.


2013 BMW 7 Series

2013 is a big model year for the 7 Series, with lots of changes to the model line. The most significant changes are improvements in horsepower and efficiency to the two main engines, the inline-6 and V8; and theres a new 8-speed automatic transmission. These things alone upgrade the character of the car.

The BMW 7 Series comes with two wheelbases, four engines, and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. You can pay about $74,000 or nearly twice that, base price from the bottom to the top of the line. Although it seems weird to call an expensive high-performance luxury car the bottom of anything.

In addition to the inline-6 and V8 engines, theres a V12 and a hybrid powertrain, all of them turbocharged. The six-cylinder and the V8 come with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Last year, the hybrid was mated to the V8, but this year its the inline-6, a more compatible choice. The hybrid and V12 only come in long wheelbase versions.

The BMW 740i is our choice because its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 is so sweet, and it delivers quick acceleration with 315 horsepower and 330 foot-pounds of torque from 1400 to 4500 rpm. The 2013 BMW 740i gains 15 horsepower over the 2012 version thanks to direct injection and Valvetronic, BMWs throttle-less intake system.

The 2013 BMW 750i gains 45 horsepower from its 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 over the 2012 model, now at 445 hp, thanks again to the addition of Valvetronic.

The V12 makes 535 horsepower and the BMW 750Li drives around in a sensational silky rocket world of its own; if youve got the money and if spectacular matters more to you than economy, buy it.

The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 7L uses a lithium-ion battery in the trunk powering a 55-hp electric motor, and it makes more horsepower than the base 740i. The 2013 ActiveHybrid 7L is rated 22/30 mpg, which is not great fuel economy.

All 2013 BMW 7 Series models get a new 8-speed automatic transmission to replace the previous 6-speed. Thats great news, it fixes a weakness in the line. After a few hundred miles in a 750Li, we concluded the 8-speed transmission is quick, smooth and smart. It offers a manual-shifting feature.

As for the 7 Series ride, youre not going to find flaws there, either. You can tune it yourself, using the Dynamic Driving knob with four settings: Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. They control the damper stiffness, throttle response, steering response, transmission response, and stability control.

Theres also an Eco Pro mode, which we used for our casual driving, 80 percent of the time. We were never inconvenienced by the dialed-back power, and were astounded by the fuel mileage: 19.4 miles per gallon in this 445-horsepower V8 that weighs 4660 pounds, while driven over mountain roads around Lake Tahoe as well as around the town.

The only bad part about driving the 7 Series was the bewildering electronics and hysterical safety warnings. And it was pretty bad. Wed say they drove us crazy, except were already half-crazy from the others. Its not just BMW, Volvo and Mercedes do the same thing, and recently a Hyundai Equus wouldnt even let us drive smoothly on the freeway, protecting us from crashing into the car in front, something weve never done in millions of miles of driving.

From a dynamic standpoint, the 7 Series model is a satisfying machine to operate: superbly comfortable and quiet, and quick and agile for a sedan of its size and weight. Naturally, the V12 is quicker than the inline-6, but the six-cylinder is quick enough.

From a non-dynamic standpoint however, the driving can be frustrating, because the engineers and designers have attempted to re-invent and BMW-ize so many things. They have made some things, such as the gimmicky gear selector and rearview camera, problematic when theyre in fact simple.

The 7 Series has a visual presence, thats for sure. The sheet metal contours, the blending concave and convex surfaces, have lost the gratuitous scoops and scallops of a couple years ago. The fenders are chiseled nicely. The 7 Series has the maturity and sophistication appropriate to a car of its stature.

The face has been tweaked for 2013, with more chrome around the grille, sleeker and more exotic headlamps with LED rings, and a reshaped full-width front airdam, having unfortunate chrome slats at the corners. The headlamps make it prettier, the chrome doesnt. At least theyve put back in the grille slats they took out last year.

The BMW 7 Series interior offers the best that contemporary automobile craftsmanship and technology have to offer. The 7 Series models deliver the luxurious feeling cars in this class are supposed to create. Comfort is superb in the front seat or rear seat, especially with the Li model with its longer wheelbase and 4.2 more inches of rear legroom. The 740i and 750i models with the standard wheelbase still have good legroom of 38.9 inches, enough for adults up to six feet tall without cramping them.

The seats are broad. The standard Nappa leather is soft and rich, while the available Alcantara is softer and richer. Polished wood is available in several choices, as is a beautiful stitched leather dashboard, standard with the V12 760i. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is right on.

The dash is low, thin and lovely, and the beautiful silver-rimmed analog speedometer, tach, temp and fuel gauges are perfect. Theres an excellent display with a large 10.2-inch high-definition screen using trans-reflective technology that makes it easy to read in sunlight. The audio and navigation systems, phone, infotainment and other functions are controlled by BMWs iDrive, now in its fourth generation. This latest version is better than before but still can be bewildering, and at those times it consumes large amounts of concentration while youre trying to focus on the road in front of you. However, many BMW owners have made their peace with iDrive and like it.


 

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