First impression: BMW’s reboot of the 7 Series is quite remarkable for 2016. Gone are the different wheelbase options, as the long wheelbase is now standard (in previous years, it was denoted with an “L” in the moniker; the new naming scheme is simply 750i). It still yields an impressive amount of legroom in the rear cabin for your passengers, with all of the luxury that BMW is known to deliver.
We were spoiled for a few weeks late last year when we had the opportunity to test drive the latest offering in BMW's 7 Series. Of course it has the exceptional power and impeccably comfortable ride you would expect from any luxury vehicle—that’s a given, but we tested the all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive, which offers added packages that transform the beautiful, solid vehicle into an indispensable one for chauffeured transportation.
Let’s jump first into the rear cabin where your passengers will be wowed by the expansive leg room. Even without moving the front passenger seat forward, there is ample space for even the tallest passengers. The 7 Series long wheelbase models have always been known for the extra leg room, and this year’s model doesn’t disappoint. The contour leather seats are soft but firm enough to support any passenger comfortably on long and short journeys alike. The rear seats recline, and the optional heated seats and massage (controlled through a tablet in the armrest) make the ride even more enjoyable. Passengers also have their own climate controls and access to a 12-volt charger.
Beyond space and seat comfort, the passenger can customize his experience. The vehicle comes standard with a panoramic moonroof for an amazing overhead view. Vehicles equipped with the executive lounge package allow passengers on both sides to use the tablet to regulate the amount of light in the cabin through a few different controls. First, there are side and rear sunscreens that are fully retractable. In addition to reading lamps and lighted drop-down mirrors in the roof, there is ambient lighting in the door pillars. If you upgrade with rear TV screens (on the seat backs), each passenger can hook up their own media and watch their preferred programs. The vehicle is also a WiFi hotspot.
Cargo space is always important, and we managed to squeeze several full-size suitcases into the trunk along with additional smaller bags—plenty of space for more than one traveler. The 7 Series is also equipped with soft-closing doors, so slamming doors is a thing of the past. You never have to worry that the door is fully closed because the work is done for you.
BMW brings back many of its best features in the driver’s cabin, including the 20-way adjustable seats with memory, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free cellphone operation, power-folding side mirrors, backup camera, and an intuitive information center that is now controlled either through touch screen, a roller knob in the console, or gesture control. A twirl of a finger can increase or decrease the volume of the radio, for example. The speed, current speed limit, navigation, and any warnings are projected onto the windshield (only visible to the driver in his line of sight) so that eyes are always on the road. Lots of storage space and charging hubs allow for a clutter-free driver area. We especially love the keyless entry and locking, which is accomplished simply by touching the door handle, provided the key is on the driver’s person.
Driving Dynamics Control allows the driver to set the vehicle’s responsiveness and comfort level. While it defaults to the Comfort setting, which is ultimately best for rear passengers, it can be changed to Sport, Sport+, or Eco Pro modes. The dash display changes color to represent each mode. While Eco Pro is the most efficient mode, it will definitely depend upon the driver of the vehicle. We noticed a slight increase in fuel efficiency in this mode.
Sensors and cameras seem to be everywhere around this car with some notable results. First, the backup camera continues to be one of the best we’ve seen thanks to clear and wide angles (no fishbowl views here). For additional aid, BMW offers an optional 3D parking assist that uses information from multiple camera points around the exterior to offer a bird’s eye view of the parked vehicle, down to the lines on the pavement and debris around the car. Ours captured a pile of leaves and an empty soda bottle on the ground near the vehicle. Sensors alert the driver of proximity to objects when parking as well, including curbs and other vehicles. The sensors also prevent on-the-road incidents with blind-spot detection and lane departure warnings (the steering wheel vibrates if you drift into another lane without using a signal). Cruise control is adaptive to the speed of the vehicle in front of you, and it automatically slows to maintain a safe following distance when in traffic.
It’s hard to find faults with any car as incredible as the 7 Series, but here are a few things to consider. First, we tested the vehicle in all black and noticed that the door and the shiny wood trim inside are fingerprint magnets. It’s easily remedied by keeping a chamois handy, but it's something for your chauffeurs to be mindful of when passengers are in the vehicle. Some of the testers also found the engine shutoff that activates when at a full stop at traffic lights—which is meant to be a fuel-saving measure—to be off-putting. While the engine turns over again quickly once you remove your foot from the brake or hit the gas, it is something to get used to but ultimately doesn’t cause any delay when you need to get moving again.
Bottom line: Luxury vehicles don’t get much better than this. BMW calls itself The Ultimate Driving Machine, and, really, we can’t argue with that. The 7 Series has more than you need, but everything you want for your high-end passengers who expect a certain level of sophistication. Don’t let the consumer price tag scare you away: With attractive incentives for fleet, it’s also attainable for many operators.
2016 BMW 7 Series Specifications
The current models available in the 7 Series are the 740i and 750i xDrive. The 750i RWD, 740i xDrive, and 740e Plug In Hybrid will be available later this year.
ENGINE: (740i) 3.0 L TwinPower Turbo 6 cylinder
(750i) 4.4 L TwinPower Turbo V-8
MPG: 19/25 (model tested, 750i xDrive)
Rear Head Room: 38.9”
Rear Leg Room: 44.4”
Dealer Invoice Price: $75,295 (740i)
$90,110 (750i xDrive)
Generous livery incentives are currently available by contacting Key Account Manager Eric Vicedomini at email@example.com.