What's New for 2013
For 2013, the BMW 7 Series gets a number of changes -- the most notable of which reside under the hood. The 750's turbocharged V8 gets a power and fuel economy increase. The new turbocharged inline-6 is also more fuel efficient, though its power output remains the same. Both engines get an eight-speed automatic transmission, automatic stop-start and an EcoPro adjustable drive setting, all of which further aid fuel economy. The 7 Series also benefits from slight exterior revisions, the addition of the latest iDrive electronics interface and new features like LED headlights and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The 2013 BMW 7 Series does not offer a power footstool for its rear passengers. Shocking, we know. You can't even get a rear refrigerator or a Blu-Ray player, and worse yet, its cabin design is a little too similar to that of lesser BMWs. We're obviously being a wee bit sarcastic, but these non-issues are really all you've got to complain about when you're talking flagship luxury sedans like the 7 Series. Each model represents the pinnacle of its brand's capabilities, and with such a no-cost-spared approach, it's generally hard to declare this car better or another one worse. Each is merely different in its own unique way.
So how is the 7 Series different? Besides its styling, which has been slightly updated for 2013, the 7 sets itself apart with three different turbocharged engines, plus two additional ones that are reviewed separately (the Alpina B7 and ActiveHybrid7). For 2013, the six- and eight-cylinder power plants are more efficient thanks to a new eight-speed transmission, an automatic stop-start system and general engine design changes. The V8 gets a power boost as well.
The 7 is also a technological tour de force, from its long list of infotainment features to the myriad vehicle control systems that enable this enormous luxury limo to defy the laws of physics around corners. There are more acronyms within the 7 Series' list of features than there are within the Department of Defense's appropriations budget. Those vehicle control systems may help maintain the 7 Series' track record of being involving to drive, but they also contribute a certain artificial quality to the driving experience: one that leaves you feeling as if the car is doing most of the work. That will be appealing to some, but to others, the more athletic Jaguar XJ or Porsche Panamera (http://www.edmunds.com/porsche/panamera/) will be more engaging.
In its favor, the 7 Series is more spacious and comfortable than both those cars, instead offering the larger dimensions of the less athletic Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Audi A8 is similar in size and character. The 7 does lack some of these competitors' fancy, above-and-beyond extras we mentioned earlier, but its optional equipment basket is still overflowing with gadgets, gizmos and niceties fit for a Robin Leach Christmas special. In a way, the 2013 BMW 7 Series now seems like a sound middle-ground choice, straddling the lines of sportiness, comfort, opulence and restraint. Too bad about that Blu-Ray player, though.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 BMW 7 Series is a full-size luxury sedan available in two wheelbase lengths. The long-wheelbase one is signified with the letter "L." There are three models -- 740, 750 and 760 -- that each correspond to a different engine type. Certain cars are labeled "xDrive," which signifies all-wheel drive.
The 740 model comes standard with 18-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, a self-leveling rear air suspension, adjustable drive settings, xenon headlights (automatic, adaptive and auto-leveling), LED foglamps, automatic wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and keyless ignition/entry. Interior equipment includes four-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, heated power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and memory functions, leather upholstery and an auto-dimming mirror. Electronic features include the iDrive interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls, real-time traffic, BMW Assist emergency communications and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface, HD radio and digital music storage.
Besides its more powerful engine, the 750 model gets 19-inch wheels, power soft-closing doors, a power trunk lid, 14-way power "Multicontour" front seats with adjustable bolsters and four-way lumbar, upgraded leather upholstery, satellite radio and a 16-speaker sound system.
There are two versions of the Executive package. The 740 version essentially includes all the 750's extra items plus a head-up display and the BMW Apps suite of smartphone-connection services. The 750's version includes those items plus ventilated front seats, power rear and rear-side sunshades, ceramic-trimmed controls and extended leather interior trim.
There are several packages available on both the 740 and 750 as options. The Cold Weather package includes heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a trunk pass-through ski bag. The Lighting package adds LED headlights and automatic high beams. The Driver Assistance package adds a blind-spot warning system, side- and top-view parking cameras and a speed limit display. Other options include an enhanced adaptive suspension (Active Roll Stabilization), rear steering (Integral Active Steering) and massaging front seats.
The 760 is available only in the long wheelbase and includes all of the above optional equipment. It also includes power-adjustable rear seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and ventilation. A massaging rear seat is an option unique to the 760Li.
Every 7 Series can be equipped with an M Sport package that includes 19- or 20-inch wheels, a sport steering wheel, unique exterior styling elements, a faux-suede headliner and an increased speed limiter (not 740). Note that the foglamps are deleted with this package. Other options include an automatic parking system, adaptive cruise control, a night-vision pedestrian detection system, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens and an iDrive controller.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2013 BMW 7 Series models come standard with rear-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and adjustable drive settings that alter throttle and transmission response. The 740 and 750 can be equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive and come standard with an automatic stop-start system that turns off the engine when the car is stopped to save fuel.
The 2013 BMW 740 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds testing, last year's 740i went from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and we suspect the new engine and transmission may yield a tenth or two better. Regardless of configuration, the EPA estimates the 740 will get 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg in combined driving.
The 750 gets a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. BMW estimates that a rear-drive model will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. EPA estimated fuel economy is 17/25/19.
The 760Li gets a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 that produces 535 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims that it will hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, but that result would no doubt be limited by the car's rear-wheel traction. It indeed feels more potent than the V8. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13/20/15 mpg.
All models in the 2013 BMW 7 Series lineup come standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and active front head restraints. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency response button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery. Multiple parking cameras, a blind-spot warning system and a night-vision pedestrian detection system are available.
In Edmunds brake testing, the 740i stopped from 60 mph in 109 feet, which is outstanding for a car with all-season tires. The heavier 750i came to rest in an equally impressive 112 feet. The 750Li was about the same.
Interior Design and Special Features
As BMW's flagship, the 7 Series presents the automaker's leading edge of luxury, comfort and technology. In our experience, it doesn't seem quite as opulent or special as an Audi A8, Jaguar XJ or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but supple leather, rich wood accents and other high-quality materials nevertheless assure a suitably premium feel.
There's little to lament in regard to comfort, as the available 14-way front seats adjust to an absurd degree to ensure comfort for virtually any body type. Yao Ming, step right up. The rear seats similarly accommodate taller adults, and the extended-wheelbase versions of the 7 Series offer even more legroom (by about 6 inches) and slightly increased headroom. Available rear seats that can heat, cool and even massage occupants should satisfy even the fussiest passengers, though the 7 does lack the sort of extra-mile adjustments and features available in the Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class. In terms of luggage space, the 7 offers 14 cubic feet, an underwhelming figure for this class of car.
The cockpit is more user-friendly than that of the outgoing model, and should be an amenable fit even for technophobic drivers. The iDrive controller provides a large amount of customization of the car's features, though we think Mercedes' COMAND system is still a little easier to use overall.
Despite its significant curb weight, the 2013 BMW 7 Series is deceptively quick. Even though it has just six cylinders, the 740i offers a prodigious swell of midrange torque. Of course, the 750 and 760 models are that much more impressive.
Once upon a time, the 7 Series was the go-to choice for those who wanted performance-oriented handling from their high-end luxury sedans. It still delivers plenty of driving engagement, but the Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera offer more athletic handling, while the Audi A8 matches the 7 Series in most regards. Even the Lexus LS F Sport comes close. This is a result of new and/or improved competition, but the 7's driving controls also lack the communicativeness and responsiveness of past models.
Nevertheless, the 7 Series absolutely will not disappoint those looking for a confident, comfortable long-distance cruiser. The ride is comfortable yet composed, and the different drive settings allow each driver to set the car to reflect individual preferences.