What's New for 2007
For 2007, the BMW 750i joins the rest of the 7 Series line in offering 20-way adjustable front seats as standard. Additionally, all 2007 BMW 7 Series models now come with heated front seats, an MP3 player input jack, power-folding exterior mirrors, additional braking technology (including a brake-drying feature) and a four-year subscription to BMW Assist telematics. Sport Package wheels for the 750i and 750Li now measure 20 inches in diameter. The new BMW Individual Composition option group allows buyers to customize the interior and exterior treatment for their 7. The short-wheelbase 760i sedan has been discontinued, as has the sport seat option.
At the top of the luxury sedan food chain you'll find cars like the 2007 BMW 7 Series, which represent the peak of engineering, elegance and hospitality available in a five-passenger automobile. Last redesigned for 2002, the 7 Series remains one of the most technologically advanced sedans in its class -- so much so that potential buyers often experience technology overload during their initial encounter. If you can get past the bewildering cockpit interface, though, you'll be able to enjoy the most involving full-size sedan on the market. Whether in V8-equipped 750 or V12-powered 760Li form, the BMW 7 Series has the personality and reflexes of a much smaller car.
Those reflexes are a product of the 7's expertly tuned suspension and steering. To keep the big sedan steady around corners, all models come with Active Roll Stabilization, which stiffens the suspension's antiroll bars to reduce body roll. Additionally, 750i and 705Li models can be equipped with either the Sport Package, which provides firmer suspension tuning, or the Adaptive Ride Package, which uses self-leveling air springs and adaptive shock damping to strike a compromise between ride comfort and handling acuity. This latter setup is standard on the 760Li. The "Li" models ride on a 5-inch-longer wheelbase and are 5.5 inches longer overall than the standard 750i. This stretch opens up 6 extra inches of legroom in the backseat, but doesn't make them unwieldy to handle.
We wish we could say the same about the standard iDrive vehicle management system. The 7 Series was the first BMW model to get this revolutionary bit of technology, and while iDrive corrals a lot of functions, including the audio, climate, navigation, Bluetooth and BMW Assist systems, it has a steep learning curve and, based on our experience, increases driver distraction. On the plus side, iDrive minimizes cabin clutter, as it's operated via a console-mounted dial that interacts with a central LCD screen.
In the five years since the debut of BMW's iDrive, such all-in-one control systems have become the standard of the super luxury sedan segment. However, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have come up with more user-friendly setups, and for consumers who just want to get in and drive, either the A8 or S-Class may prove to be a more appealing choice. Both are just as luxurious as the 7, and the Mercedes is just as agile, if slightly less engaging from behind the wheel. Also worth consideration are the Lexus LS 460 and Jaguar XJ8/XJR, which buck the trend and use a traditional control layout. The Lexus, in particular, is an amazingly sophisticated and opulent sedan, though its driving experience is somewhat antiseptic. The Jag is a touch less refined than the others, but its sleek, classical styling goes a long way in a vehicle class where appearance counts for plenty. The truth is that none of these high-dollar sedans is likely to disappoint, but for buyers who crave an engaging driving experience above all else, the 2007 BMW 7 Series remains the definitive choice. Just make sure you have a high tolerance for technology before you sign the deal.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A full-size luxury sedan, the 2007 BMW 7 Series comes in three versions: the standard-wheelbase 750i and the long-wheelbase 750Li and 760Li. Standard fare on the 750i and 750Li includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive bi-HID headlights, a moonroof, leather upholstery, walnut wood interior trim and 14-way power front seats (plus four-way power lumbar and two-way active headrests for a total of 20 adjustments). Front-seat heaters, a navigation system with voice control, a 10-speaker CD sound system with an MP3 player input jack, dual-zone climate control, one-touch windows and Bluetooth connectivity are also included. Both cars are eligible for a long list of options -- the only difference is that the 750Li can be had with ventilated 14-way power rear seats to complement the extra legroom in the back. Major option groups include the Sport Package, which provides firmer suspension tuning, 20-inch wheels and a three-spoke steering wheel; the Adaptive Ride Package, which provides self-leveling air springs and electronic damping; the Luxury Seating Package, which provides a massaging driver seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and rear sunshades; and the Premium Sound Package, which adds a 13-speaker Logic 7 sound system with an in-dash CD changer.
Virtually all of the above is standard on the 760Li, including the Adaptive Ride suspension. Additional options on all 7 Series models include keyless startup, adaptive cruise control and a rear entertainment system (with a six-disc DVD changer). An exclusive 760Li extra is a rear-seat beverage cooler (mounted in the armrest) and individual rear climate controls.
Powertrains and Performance
The BMW 750i and 750Li are powered by a 4.8-liter V8 with 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, along with respectable mileage ratings of 17 city/25 highway. The BMW 760Li offers a 6.0-liter V12 with direct-injection technology -- the first V12 production engine to use this. Mileage numbers are lower than the 750 at 14 city/22 highway, but power is impressive at 438 hp and 444 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission that directs power to the rear wheels. We've timed a 760Li at just over 6 seconds for the 0-60-mph run, while a 750i we tested was about a half-second slower. BMW claims that sub-6-second times are possible with either drivetrain under optimal conditions.
Standard safety features on all 7 Series sedans include antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags; a driver's knee airbag and a four-year subscription to BMW Assist telematics; rear-seat side airbags are optional. The stability control system governs several advanced braking features, including a brake-drying feature that periodically wipes the brake rotors when the windshield wipers are in use. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, and you can opt for the Night Vision system, which uses an infrared camera to monitor obstacles nearly 1,000 feet ahead of your 7 Series.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 2007 BMW 7 Series, the cabin has the expected opulent atmosphere and a clean layout, thanks to the minimal center stack controls. The iDrive system was designed to consolidate the vehicle's control systems into one easy-to-use interface, but the learning curve is steep. Most basic adjustments can be made rather easily, but more complex functions require time with the owner's manual and patience to learn -- and we know of more than one driver who has accidentally drifted out of his lane while fiddling with iDrive. Materials are generally very high in quality, as you'd expect in this class, but there are a few plastics here and there that seem out of place in an executive sedan. Backseat passengers will be just as comfortable as those in front, as the rear seatback contours perfectly to support your lower back and shoulders, while headroom and legroom are abundant. Go for the 750Li or 760Li and you'll get an extra 6 inches of rear-seat legroom.
Either engine should prove satisfying, and choosing between the two is largely a matter of personal taste and spending power. The 750 models move out like muscle cars fresh out of charm school: The 4.8-liter V8 has a refined yet athletic demeanor, and the six-speed automatic is the perfect partner, serving up some of the quickest, smoothest shifts we've ever experienced. As you'd expect, the 760Li's V12 responds immediately to the slightest nudge of the gas pedal. At idle and cruising speeds, the engine's sound is nearly undetectable, but open it up for full power and it exudes a pleasing enough note to make you eagerly anticipate the next stretch of open road. Steering feel in the 7 Series cars is typical BMW, with relatively high weighting and excellent feedback, and body roll is held in check during cornering. While it may be a stretch to call such a large car nimble, it's easy to confuse it for a sport sedan on the open road.