2009 BMW 7 Series Long Term Road Test

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2009 BMW 750i: Skimpy Storage Options

March 15, 2010

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I have big sunglasses.

They come in a ridiculously big, white case.

But should the ridiculously big, white case not be able to find a safe storage spot in a big car like the BMW 7 Series?

Won't fit in the center console. Won't fit in the door pocket. Will fit in the glovebox, but still nudges the case when I close the lid.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 27,566 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: A Case for Dark Interiors

February 18, 2010

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This is what the back of the driver's seat in our 750i looks like. Before I was a parent this sort of thing would infuriate me. Parenting, however, has a way of tempering one's demeanor. Now instead of being angry at the rugrats who I'm certain made this mess, I simply wish our BMW had a dark interior. In fact, shouldn't all our cars have dark interiors?

More examples after the jump...

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2009 BMW 750i: Heated

February 08, 2010

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Oh yeah, the BMW 750i also has a heated steering wheel. Of course, it does. I'm surprised it doesn't have a latte machine in the dash.

Heated steering wheels are a feature I never paid attention to before I tried it in our Dodge Ram. Now, it's my new favorite thing. The BMW 750i's heated steering wheel is subtler than the Ram's but still cozy.

I was on the road early this morning and really wanted to pull over, rest my face on the steering wheel and take a nap.

Do you think heated seats and steering wheels would put you to sleep on a long road trip?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 25,324 miles

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2009 750i: Oh So Nice

January 22, 2010

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If you don't always have the chance to sit in a 750i and just check out the details, I hope this helps:

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2009 BMW 750i: Sporty Wheel, Sporty Feel

January 20, 2010

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Like my high school pal, The Game, I like big cars. Actually, big sedans.

The BMW 750 is probably the sportiest of the big luxury sedans. Contributing to this is the small diameter steering wheel. It feels much smaller than the steering wheels on the Benz S-Class and the Lexus LS.

I measured our long-term 2009 BMW 750i's steering wheel and got 380 x 370 mm (they're not round, you know, but slightly oval-shaped.) Compare this to our long-term BMW M3 sports sedan, which I measured at 365 x 360 mm, more circular, but not much smaller than the 7.

Large sedans have large steering wheels so the driver doesn't become cramped and uncomfortable on long drives. But the wheel on our 7-series is never uncomfortable.

I like big cars. And for me, the 750's steering wheel is the perfect size, even for a big car.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 24,650 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Lights My Fire, Three Times

January 19, 2010

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Gotta love the Germans. Decent cupholders are still a struggle, but our long-term 2009 BMW 750i has three cigarette lighters onboard; one up front and two on the back of the center console just inches apart from each other.

Name me another car that has two cigarette lighters that close together. Heck, name me another car with three lighters.

Hey, Wolfgang, enough with the fire, give me someplace to put my Big Gulp.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 24,619 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Instrument Panel Color Change

January 06, 2010

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Just a little observation to share with y'all. Our longterm 2009 BMW 750i's electroluminescent gauge panel makes a significant color change when you switch on the headlights.

The top photo shows the white illumination that helps the display stand out during the day. At night, there's a switch to the orange-y reddish color. The color change is purposeful -- the orange-y color has less impact on night vision than the bright white illumination. Neat trick.

Looking more closely at the pics now, I see that not only do the numerals and tickmarks switch color, but the needles, too. I wonder why the rings stay white, though.

Maybe there are other cars whose gauges make a similar transformation and I just haven't noticed. They dim when you click the headlights on, sure, but change color? Hmmm. Am I nuts? Help me out here.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 23,609 miles.

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2009 BMW 750i: Gimme Shelter

December 08, 2009

Last night in my sleepy beach community, we were rocked with high winds after a day of rain. Of course, the day before I had put up my outdoor Christmas decorations. I found them all over my lawn when I got home. It was also trash night and the containers were tossed all over the street. Part of my next door neighbor's roof was in my yard.

The funny thing was, that I didn't realize how windy it was while I was driving home. There were some traffic lights out in my neighborhood and I wondered about that. But I felt no tugging on the car. And I didn't hear anything. It was only when I pulled onto my street and saw the mess that I noticed it was windy. And it wasn't until I opened the car door that I realized how severe it was.

Our luxurious 7 Series kept it all away from me. My commute home was rather peaceful and toasty.

This video is very dark. It was late and the moon was nowhere in sight. But it's the sound that I wanted to capture anyway. I drove to the beach and recorded with the window up, then I put it down so you can hear the crazy wind and turbulent ocean waves, then up again so you can hear how well the BMW 750i keeps you insulated. The window goes down and up twice. So, turn up your speakers and be glad you were safely in your home last night.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW 750i: Ate My Skirt

November 12, 2009

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See that front piece on the seat in the BMW 750i? It's power-adjustable to accommodate long and short legs.

When I took over the car from Scott the other night, I needed to adjust the seat for comfort. His legs are longer than mine.

As I pushed the button to close up the front of the seat, it started to swallow up the material of my skirt. Oops!

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 BMW 750i: Heated Seats and Steering Wheel

October 29, 2009

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This morning it was a bitter 56 degrees Fahrenheit in Santa Monica, but I survived the wintry turn thanks to the heated driver's seat and heated steering wheel of our long-term 2009 BMW 750i.

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2009 BMW 750i: Limo Duty

October 05, 2009

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I'm not really that into outlet shopping but my girlfriends talked me into taking a trip up to the Camarillo outlet mall.

As usual, I was the designated driver because of my car choices. Actually, one of my friends doesn't even have a driver license. She grew up in New York City and never needed nor bothered to get one.

So, I showed up on Saturday with the roomy and luxurious 2009 BMW 7 Series. My friends couldn't be more pleased. From its soft, quiet ride, to the individual climate controls and heated seats, to the navigation system with traffic notices, to the entertainment features, the BMW served us well. Driving can be a little numbing but the 7 Series is a great passenger car.

As Ed mentioned in his M3 post, iDrive is no longer a hassle. It is much improved and actually easy to use and extremely helpful.

As you can see from the photo, we shopped 'til we dropped. The BMW 750i's 17.7 cu-ft trunk swallowed our packages with room to spare.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 18,513 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Don't Touch Me, I'm Driving

October 01, 2009

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Our 2009 BMW 750i has seat massagers! Score! I couldn't wait to try them out as rarely am I ever in a car with seat massagers. So luxurious! And, yes, I've read Al's post on the "rump shaker" but wanted to check it out for myself. I love seat heaters. I'd love having my backside massaged, too, right?

Wrong. It's so distracting trying to drive when there's a small ball moving around on my butt cheeks, sometimes even lifting me up. It almost felt like I was rocking back and forth on a boat. After several minutes of that, I turned it off. But then the small ball stopped in an uncomfortable spot so I turned it on again until it moved elsewhere. But I felt that ball regardless of where it moved. So I just turned it off in the least annoying spot. Cool thing was that after awhile in the off position the ball got absorbed back into the seat. Neat.

This seat massager reminded me of the chair massagers my dad used to have an affinity for when I was growing up. So relaxing when kicking back in front of the TV with a TV dinner and beer. But when you're out on the road? That's no time to relax! Maybe when you're sitting in the car waiting at the curb for your kids to get out of school or something like that but I don't see using it while commuting to work. Especially when you're like me: the type to fall asleep during a massage.

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2009 BMW 750i: Homecoming Wheels

September 28, 2009

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You're a 15-year-old high school sophomore. No driver's license, means you've gotta ask your parents for a ride to the big homecoming dance. No wheels, no date. Safer to go with a couple of buddies instead.

But good news for Kyle Toepke, his parents have access to cool cars. When we asked if he wanted us to play the part of chauffer for his group, he responded coolly, "That depends. What are you driving?"

The 2009 BMW 750i sealed the deal, and Philip and Zack were pleased to tag on.

The 750i is luxurious and sophisticated, but also a little complicated. Being inquisitive teenagers, they pressed every button within reach, which resulted in the raising and lowering of the back sunscreen, rear door sunscreens and even the driver's headrest.

We arrived at the dance after a quick bite at Sonic Burger, and overheard Zack bragging to a friend in the parking lot, "There are so many buttons in this car, you don't even know what they do. The car is so cool."

Homecoming night had me thinking of how I arrived at dances. My parents' 1978 Chevy Caprice Classic wagon wasn't exactly my chariot of choice. Can you top that embarrassment?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @17,699 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Back Seat Features

August 24, 2009

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I ventured up to Santa Barbara on Saturday to have lunch with my vacationing parents, then ferry them down to LAX afterward. To their pleasant surprise, I showed up in our long-term BMW 750i -- a rather significant improvement over the Kia Amanti rental car they'd been tooling around in. Although our long termer isn't the extended wheelbase 750Li, it should come as no surprise that it still managed to provide tons of space (even with the seats set for my 6-foot-3 self and 6-foot Dad).

Here are some of the features they had at their disposal in the back seat of our 750, which includes the Luxury Seating Package (ventilated front seats, power rear and rear-side sunshades, adjustable driver seat bolsters, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel).

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2009 BMW 750i: My Favorite Setup

August 21, 2009

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This is how I like to roll:

iPod playing: check
Air conditioner running: check
Seat heaters on high: check

Does anyone else like to drive with the A/C and seat heaters on at the same time?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 14,083 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Ahhh

August 20, 2009

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See a dramatic sky, take a picture of a long-term car.

I was really glad to be driving the luxurious BMW 750i this morning. I was feeling a little under the weather and the interior of this BMW is so comfortable and full of little features to brighten my day.

Its seats are sturdy and covered in soft leather. The center storage compart is also covered in plush leather, so after I hooked up my iPod to play soothing morning music, I could rest my arm on its softness when stopped at traffic lights.

I cranked up the seat heaters and floated smoothly to the office.

The BMW 750i helped me ease into my day.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 14,043 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: It's the little things

August 17, 2009

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This weekend was the first time I've spent any real time in our long-term 7 Series. I just used it for regular family stuff: grocery-getting, trip to the beach for an evening stroll, visit to grandma's house (not more than a few miles away), dinner out one night. Every time I got into it, though, I'd notice one thing or another that struck me as a really great touch. One such item: four infinitely detentable doors. Sure, it's quite helpful in parking lot situations and it's even a nice safety feature, preventing little (and big) hands from being crushed by a rebounding door. But in practice, the feature operates so smoothly and feels so high-end, it really makes me say, "Wow."

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 13, 949 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Pretty Dirty

August 11, 2009

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It's not all skidpads, slaloms and smoky burnouts at Inside Line.

We spend an awful lot of time at car washes and gas stations.

The light interior of our BMW 7 Series is starting to show some dirt. The seats are holding up fine but the footwell is showing the grime of dirty soles.

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2009 BMW 750i: Seat Calibration

July 31, 2009

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Yes, seat calibration. It's what our longterm 2009 BMW 750i requested upon shutdown yesterday with a ding and this message. Apparently HAL lost track of where in its range of travel the driver's seat was.

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2009 BMW 750i: What is that smell?

July 15, 2009

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I turned on the seat heaters in our BMW 750i last night. Then I turned on the seat coolers at the same time. Then it smelled funny so I turned them both off.

Why did it let me do that?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 12,300 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Four-place bliss

July 08, 2009

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Our 2009 BMW 750i pulled shuttling duty again this weekend, as I'd family in town keen on hitting some of the sights. With as much four-up running as our 750i has had in the past few weeks, you're probably wondering if we're pinning away for the 750iL and it's more capacious back seat.

After last week's run up to San Luis Obispo, I was thrilled to snag the 750i again, as few machines have the sort of impact to impress out of towners. On the San Luis escapade, the 750i's back seat was plenty spacious with front seat passengers setting their perches at a comfortable distance from the dash, but not pushed back into another zip code. With no one in the cabin over six feet, there was plenty of stretch-out room for all.

With my bro (6'2") and nephew (6'0") in town, they were plenty comfy in the back seat with me (5'10") behind the wheel, and my better half (5'4") scooting the passenger perch up just a bit, but still far enough away so that her feet couldn't reach the firewall even if she stretched her legs out. So with an average mix of folk in the car, the 750i is still plenty spacious for all-day tours from Venice Beach up to Hollywood. If your family is all basketball players, you'll want the 750iL, which has stretch out room for all but the lankiest of passengers at every seating position.

Back seat accommodations received high ranks from the Seredynski men, especially the long and wide center armrest divide, which gave my nephew his own throne like-space in which to enjoy to his iPod. The rear windows dive towards the beltline, but the small pane in front of the C-pillar gives excellent outward visibility. They were cheered by the individual climate control stack and heated seats for rear passengers, but after hearing the 750i's price tag, wondered aloud why they didn't get the same super slick cooled seats as the front of the cabin. I tried to explain that those are only available on the 750iL, but there's just no pleasing family...

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor, @ 12,043 miles.

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2009 BMW 750i: Back from SLO

June 28, 2009

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After a weekend of strafing vineyards near San Luis Obispo in search of some real-estate info, the 750i carried our foursome back to L.A. in serene, coddling comfort. As a machine designed to shuttle a quartet in rapid solitude, you could do far worse than the 750i. When hustled, the 7 Series seems to shrink and begin imitating its smaller 3- and 5 Series brethren. Mechanical grip is far outside the comfort range of all but the most banzai passengers, and few spouses would leap that bar.

Even the spouses, however, were impressed with the afterburner-like thrust that made for drama free jumps onto Hwy 101, often via on-ramps about as long as a carrier-deck. Even when given the boot, and winding it's turbine-smooth twin-turbo V8 up to redline, full-throttle shifts were delivered swiftly but with a muted touch, preventing any frayed nerves inside the cabin.

Constantly inputting addresses into the nav system while moving from listing to listing, we can probably lay most past criticisms of iDrive to rest. The interface works well and rapidly, with a jog wheel that oozes quality through heft and feel. The graphics are clear and tasteful, and the widescreen display sports some impressive resolution.

Effortlessly hauling four passengers and luggage over the weekend, the 750i managed 18.7 mpg, and ranks as the complete package if you've the portfolio for its heart stopping sticker price. It handles superbly, has rocket-ship thrust, is quiet and extremely comfortable for four adults and sports useful and accessible technology. If you have the means and love to be involved with the car you're driving, this new 7 Series is worth a serious look.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 11,809 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Re-Broken Cupholder Cover

June 23, 2009

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I signed up to drive our 750i the other night. Along with the key I was handed its faux-wood cupholder cover. The same cover Brent reattached back in April. "This fell off again," I was told.

We don't reach our next service interval for another 6,000 miles. Looks like we'll be scheduling an appointment to have this fixed before then.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 11,000 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Not Missing the "L"

May 27, 2009

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My parents were in town over the holiday weekend, so I made the not very adventurous choice of requesting our long-term BMW 750i. Honestly, my family was due a little $90K kindness; last time I made them ride in our departed Scion xB.

I've always liked 7 Series backseats, because of one of my relatives used to own a '98 740iL, which had a positively expansive rear seat. But my parents are tall -- 5'-10" and 6'-2" -- and our BMW 7 Series is just the regular-wheelbase model. Would it be enough? In my family, we don't keep mild discomfort to ourselves -- we complain loudly.

The answer is yes. They loved it back there. Ample legroom. Ample headroom. And they couldn't stop talking about the luxurious accommodations. (Actually, as luxury-sedan rear seats go, the 750i is a little basic in its amenities: discrete climate controls plus heated seats. If you want ventilated seats or power adjustments, you'll need a 750Li with the Luxury Seating Package.)

After this weekend, I'm not sure I'd ever order up a 750Li, unless there were 7-footers in my family. The 750i is perfectly adequate in back, and looking at the specs, it's easy to see why.

1998 BMW 740iL -- wheelbase: 120.9 in., rear legroom: 41.9 in.
2009 BMW 750i -- wheelbase: 120.9 in., rear legroom: 38.4 in.
2009 BMW 750Li -- wheelbase: 126.4 in., rear legroom: 44.3 in.

So, yeah, our '09 750i has the same wheelbase as a LWB 7 Series of two generations ago.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 BMW 750i: Shift-by-wire in relation to interior storage

May 19, 2009

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Our long-term BMW 750 has a shift-by-wire transmission -- there is no mechanical connection between the shifter and the transmission.

One advantage of shift-by-wire is that the shift lever does not need to be positioned just forward of the center console -- the most common setup. Placing the shifter on the IP (instrument panel) or on the steering column frees up additional interior storage room in the center console area -- room for cupholders and storage boxes.

In a previous life, I worked on shift-by-wire development for a leading automaker. Myself and my colleagues were surprised by the then new (current) BMW X5 and the integral debut of their new shift-by-wire system placed in the center console.

We asked - why would they make it so big and place in that position?

Perhaps that's what people are used to. And this may be a trend because the new Prius shifter is also in a more conventional position than previously. But the Benz S-Class has a small shift lever on the steering column (top right pic), so who knows the overall direction.

Our long-term BMW 750 has the same shift-by-wire location as the X5. And this contributes (but not solely) to a lack of interior storage space in the vehicle.

The center console box is ridiculously small. You can fit an iPod, or a mobile phone, or a pack of Lucky Strikes. There isn't room for say, a hard case for a pair of Oakleys (I tried).

There is a undersized glove box (filled with the owners book) and a small storage box by the driver's left knee. And a cute little storage box above the glovebox. You can fit some CDs or a pair of sunglasses with a small or no case in that one. Except for the tiny door map pockets, that's it.

With regard to interior storage, I realize that this vehicle is not a SUV or wagon. But it's not a Porsche either.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 8900 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: It's not all roses

May 18, 2009

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I was fortunate to spend most of last week with the our long-term BMW 750. What a great car: accurate steering with great "feel", excellent ride/handling balance, and gobs of power. The 750 handles like and has an overall feel of a smaller sedan.

What's left to do but pick nits?

1. There is a ton of wind noise coming from the driver's window area. I tried lowering and raising the window, of course, to try to reseal it. No joy. This condition was present in another 750 we drove recently, so this isn't an isolated case. (There is, however, almost no road noise present.)

2. Initial throttle tip-in is feeble. When the driver senses this he compensate by squeezing down more throttle, then the car quickly picks up. When driven aggressively, it's no problem at all. But when just cruising or puttering about at low speeds, it is a challenge to drive smoothly and not befitting a luxury car.

3. The A/C is weak (it was hot in SoCal the past several days.) Fortunately, there is a MAX A/C setting (full blast fan with cabin recirc) you can use when it's hot, but it's too loud and drafty to run this setting continuously.

4. Accessory drive noise. This is the worst problem of the car and it's annoying. The 750, with the exception of the D-window wind noise, is very quiet. However, from a start or at low speeds with partial throttle openings, the engine bay emits a relatively loud accessory-belt whining noise. The last time I heard such sounds were from a lower-end sedan.

None of these things are deal-breakers of course. It's still a great car.

But they shouldn't be present in a $90,000 sedan.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 8740 miles

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2009 BMW 750i: Broken Cupholder Cover

April 16, 2009

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A couple days ago, the "wood" trim piece to our BMW 750i's retractable cupholder cover broke loose. I was closing the cover and the trim piece got caught and popped off from its black plastic base. After that, the entire mechanism was a bit wonky. It wasn't opening and closing properly as one of the plastic hinges had become dislocated.

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2009 BMW 750i: Simplified Interior

April 09, 2009

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In years past, I knew I should expect a fair amount of aggravation when getting into a high-end German luxury sedan for the first time. Thanks to buttons labeled so cryptically that I'd want Daniel from Stargate SG-1 to help me figure them out to the various incarnations of electronic devil spawn -- iDrive, COMAND and MMI -- RTFM was almost always going to be required.

Our new 750i long-term car is a welcome departure from all that. Everything seems simpler than it was on the previous generation 7. In general, buttons are marked more intuitively. The climate controls now have their own display. The seat controls have been moved to the side of the seat cushion and are easier to use. The transmission selector makes more sense. And then there's the new iDrive -- I'll cover it in another post, but suffice to say it's way better than before.

The owner's manual will no doubt be cracked a few times during the car's year-long stay with us. But overall you can get into our 750i and just drive -- and that's quite nice.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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