Full 2010 BMW 7 Series Review
What's New for 2010
Three new models join the BMW 7 Series lineup for 2010: the new V12-powered 760Li and the all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive. Also new is a regenerative braking system to help power the car's myriad electronic gizmos. Finally, the sport package is now called the M Sport package, active four-wheel steering is now a stand-alone option, while active front seats and rear massaging seats are included in the Luxury Seating package.
Thanks to last year's full redesign, BMW seems to have exorcised most of the demons out of its iconic 7 Series. Styling is once again in line with how BMW enthusiasts think a German-made flagship should look -- stately, substantial and with a hint of aggression. BMW also replaced the fussy iDrive control system with a much improved version, allowing for easier operation and added functionality. As good as last year's 7 Series was, we wouldn't have been too surprised if BMW had left it unchanged this year.
But BMW simply couldn't leave it well enough alone. The 2010 7 Series lineup more than doubles with the addition of three new models: the 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive are all-wheel-drive versions of last year's models, and there's also a new, fully loaded and über-powerful 760Li.
The latter gets a new, direct-injected and turbocharged V12 (good for a thumping 535 horsepower) that's paired to an exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission. And this year, newfound power is not just limited to internal combustion -- every 2010 BMW 7 Series gets BMW's smart charging system (brake energy regeneration) that's more efficient than traditional belt-driven setups.
Supporting the new 2010 models are all of the attributes that made us so fond of last year's 7 Series. A handsome, spacious interior and superior comfort all return, as does a wealth of luxury features such as a night vision camera and sideview cameras. The 7 Series also continues to provide enjoyable handling that keeps pilots confidently involved in the task at hand, rather than isolating them from the road. The Driving Dynamics Control system further enhances this feeling by offering four driving settings -- from the luxurious Comfort mode to the more exciting Sport Plus mode.
Despite its impressive credentials, the 2010 BMW 7 Series is not alone at the top of the luxury sedan food chain. There are two fully redesigned sedans to consider this year -- the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ -- as well as the popular Lexus LS 460 and prestigious Mercedes S-Class. Porsche's new Panamera also debuts, and it properly takes its place as the most athletic car of this group. All are worthy of consideration alongside the big BMW. However, the 7 Series' broad range of talents makes it a fine pick for a premium luxury sedan.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 BMW 7 Series is a large luxury sedan available in 750i and extended-wheelbase 750Li models. New for 2010, either can be had as all-wheel-drive variants that are differentiated by the xDrive moniker. Also new for this year is the range-topping 760Li that sports a powerful V12 engine. The base 750i is exceptionally appointed with standard features that include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic adaptive xenon headlights, an adaptive adjustable suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming heated mirrors and keyless ignition (entry is still accomplished by pressing a button on a key fob).
On the inside, you'll find four-zone automatic climate control, 14-way-adjustable front seats, front seat memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, wood trim and leather upholstery. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth, the iDrive electronics controller, a voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates, and a 10-speaker surround-sound stereo with HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and digital music storage. The 750Li adds a self-leveling air suspension and a longer wheelbase for more rear seat space. The all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive also includes the same air suspension plus hill descent control.
Most options for the 750 models are bundled in groups. The M Sport package adds active roll stabilization (for rear-drive models only), performance tires on either 19- or 20-inch wheels, a sporty "M" steering wheel, more aerodynamic body elements and black exterior trim. The Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, plus a ski bag for the trunk pass-through.
The Luxury Seating package includes all of the Cold Weather items plus rear sunshades, ventilated front seats and active adjustable driver seat bolsters. The Convenience package adds a power trunk lid and soft-close doors. The Driver Assistance package adds a blind-spot warning system, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. The Camera package adds rear and sideview parking cameras. The Premium Sound package fits the 7 Series with an iPod/USB audio jack, a six-CD/DVD changer and a 16-speaker upgraded stereo.
The top-of-the-line 760Li includes all of the above-listed standard and optional features (except for the M Sport package) along with active four-wheel steering, power-adjustable rear seats, heated and ventilated seats all around, a leather-covered dashboard, satellite radio, a power trunk lid and a head-up display. If that weren't enough, options include rear seats with massage functions, adaptive cruise control, a rear-seat entertainment system, infrared night vision and a host of different wood trim styles. Most of these standard and optional 760Li features are also available on the 750 models as options.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering all 2010 BMW 750 models is a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 that produces 400 hp and 450 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission available for this engine is a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. Power is directed to the rear wheels in standard models, while xDrive variants are all-wheel drive.
The 760Li sees a significant boost in power thanks to a 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 that thumps out an impressive 535 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a new eight-speed automatic. All BMW 7 Series feature the Driving Dynamics Control system, which has four driver-selectable settings for shift response, throttle response, shock absorber firmness, power-steering assist and stability control.
In performance testing, we accelerated a 750i from zero to 60 mph in a scant 5.2 seconds. As one would expect from a 4,600-pound luxury sedan with such lofty performance numbers, fuel economy is not of paramount concern. However, the 750i manages to turn in decent EPA-estimated numbers of 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel drive drops mileage slightly to 14/20/16 mpg, while the V12-powered 760Li is rated at 13/19/15 mpg.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes (with brake assist, brake fade compensation, brake drying and a brake stand-by feature), stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, the 750i with the Sport package came to a stop in a very short 112 feet.
Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, rear- and sideview cameras and infrared night vision with pedestrian detection that displays the images either in the main dash display or head-up display (if so equipped).
Interior Design and Special Features
As BMW's flagship, the 7 Series represents the company's pinnacle of luxury, comfort and cutting-edge technology. Supple leather and rich wood accents adorn almost every surface and the highly adjustable front seats ensure comfort for virtually any body type. The rear seats are similarly accommodating for taller adults, and the extended-wheelbase versions offer even more legroom (by about 6 inches) and slightly increased headroom. Available rear seat heating and even a massage feature should satisfy the most demanding of passengers.
Thanks to last year's complete redesign, the cabin of the 2010 BMW 7 Series is more user-friendly than its much-maligned predecessor. Gone are the days when occupants would rather sit in silence than navigate the over-complicated iDrive system menus. Along with the main iDrive controller knob, several physical buttons help to simplify some of the most commonly used functions. Some may still find the iDrive system a bit complicated, but with use over time, we think the improved layout is an elegant solution to a button-heavy dashboard.
With the standard twin-turbo V8 under the hood of the 7 Series, drivers are rewarded with a flood of torque with little or no perceptible turbo lag. There is a slight delay from the time you apply pressure on the gas pedal to when the big sedan begins to move, but you can fix this by selecting a higher Driving Dynamics Control mode. The V12-powered 760Li, meanwhile, accelerates with complete authority for those who somehow think a twin-turbo V8 is a tad weak.
Compared to other luxury sedans like the Lexus LS 460, the 2010 BMW 7 Series is more athletic but also has a stiffer ride quality -- even in Comfort mode. That's not to say the ride is harsh, though. Instead, this stiffer ride results in a more engaging driving experience, making the 7 Series a luxury sedan that can also be fun to drive. We highly recommend the optional Integral Active Steering, which utilizes four-wheel steering to take you around corners faster and maneuver you through tight spaces easier than other cars this big.