Full 2014 BMW 7 Series Review
What's New for 2014
Standard on all 2014 7 Series models are a touchpad iDrive controller with handwriting recognition, a dynamic instrument cluster that customizes the display based on driving mode, Bluetooth audio connectivity, BMW Apps and BMW Online Internet-based services. Also, the available power trunk lid now features a foot sensor for convenient hands-free operation.
The 2014 BMW 7 Series is the rare high-end luxury car that's just kind of there. Its quiet performance doesn't get our pulses racing, although the available V8 and V12 engines make it phenomenally fast. Its competent handling fails to excite despite technically high limits. Its interior, while certainly well-equipped and lavishly trimmed, is nonetheless rather plain for the executive class. Same goes for its inoffensive exterior styling.
In other words, the "gotta-have-it" force isn't particularly strong with this one, at least not anymore. Still, we can see how a rational shopper might identify the 7 Series as a compelling choice. After all, the engines really are great, the seats are stellar and the technology offerings are both comprehensive and clever. That's a trifecta that's tough to top, and for longtime BMW fans, the Ultimate Driving Machine mystique may add some nostalgic appeal to the mix.
If it's style or excitement you're after, though, you're better off with the 2014 Jaguar XJ or Porsche Panamera these days, and even the Audi A8 strikes us as more nimble and involving. Meanwhile, the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class takes this segment's opulence to a completely new level. It's odd to think of BMW's iconic luxury cruiser as an also-ran, but the current 7 has been around for a while now, and its adversaries have never been better. Perhaps this generation's time has simply come and gone.
But that's not to say we'll feel sorry for you if you end up with a 2014 BMW 7 Series. Putting aside its various rivalries, the 7 remains one of the best cars in the world, and there's no denying the force of that feeling when you're behind the wheel.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 BMW 7 Series is a full-size luxury sedan. Each of the three available models -- 740, 750 and 760 -- offers a unique engine and standard equipment roster. The 740 and 750 are available in two wheelbase lengths: "i" for normal and "Li" for long. The 760 is offered only with the long wheelbase. Note that the ActiveHybrid 7 and Alpina B7 are reviewed separately.
The 740 comes standard with a six-cylinder engine, 18-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, a self-leveling rear air suspension, adjustable drive settings, xenon headlights (automatic, adaptive and self-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.
Inside the 740, you'll find four-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery and heated power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and memory functions. Technology features include the iDrive interface with touchpad functionality, a central widescreen display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls, BMW Assist emergency communications, BMW Apps smartphone integration and a 12-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface, HD radio, satellite radio and 20 GB of digital music storage.
The 750 gets a V8 engine, 19-inch wheels (18s are a no-cost option), power-closing doors, a power trunk lid with a foot sensor, 16-way power multicontour front seats (with adjustable side bolsters and four-way lumbar), upgraded leather upholstery and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.
Both the 740 and 750 are eligible for the Executive package. The 740's version includes most of the 750's extra standard features plus ventilated front seats and a head-up display. The 750's version adds 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 Plus package adds blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a drowsiness monitor, 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 760Li includes all of the above optional equipment. It also includes power-adjustable rear seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and ventilation (optional on 740Li and 750Li).
Optional on all long-wheelbase 7 Series models are upgraded rear seats with power adjustments, ventilation and a massage function.
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 (760 only) and a higher top speed. Note that the foglamps are deleted with this package. Other options include the "Individual Composition" luxury trim package, a self-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 2014 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 740Li and both 750 models can be equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive, while all 740 and 750 models feature an automatic stop-start system that turns off the engine when the car is stopped to save fuel.
The 740 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that produces 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds testing, an earlier 740i with slightly less power accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/29 mpg highway) for the 740i/Li and a virtually identical 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway) for the 740Li xDrive.
The 750 gets a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 engine that pumps out 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. BMW estimates that the 750i will hit 60 mph in a fleet 4.7 seconds. The 750i checks in at 20 mpg combined (17/25), while the 750Li drops to 19 mpg combined (16/25). Both xDrive versions get 19 mpg combined (16/24).
The 760Li boasts a 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 that produces 535 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims that it will hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which is barely quicker than the 750i, but in real-world driving, the V12 feels more potent than the V8. Fuel economy drops precipitously, however, to just 15 mpg combined (13/20).
All 7 Series models 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, a lane-departure warning system, a drowsiness monitor and a collision mitigation system with automatic braking are available (mainly via the Driver Assistance Plus package).
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 just 112 feet; the 750Li was about the same.
Interior Design and Special Features
Perhaps we're being too hard on the 7 Series' conservative cabin. To be fair, BMW has almost always resisted the latest trends in dashboard design, sticking instead with classic gauges and an understated center stack that cants toward the driver. The real issue for us is the lack of differentiation between the 7 Series and the ostensibly lesser 5 Series. The dashboards aren't identical, but they're pretty close, and that's one fewer reason to consider the 7 Series special. Even the iDrive infotainment system's slick new touchpad with fingertip-scribble recognition isn't an exclusive feature; it's standard on many other BMWs this year, too.
Still, you're not exactly slumming it in this BMW. The 7's supple leather, rich wood accents and other high-quality materials assure a suitably premium feel. Comfort is pretty much beyond reproach, especially if you opt for the multicontour front seats with their incredible support and range of adjustments. The rear seats are plenty spacious by default, but the extra 6 inches of length in the Li models comes in handy if you want to cross your legs. Available power rear seats with heating, cooling and massage provide further incentive to let someone else ride shotgun, though you'll find even more rear-seat accoutrements in rivals like the S-Class.
The 7's trunk measures 14 cubic feet, an unimpressive figure for this class.
Even the base 2014 BMW 740i is a quick car. The turbocharged inline-6 provides a prodigious swell of midrange torque, and its sub-6-second sprint to 60 mph would have been the envy of many executive sedans not too long ago. But times have changed, and that's where the otherworldly V8 (750) and V12 (760) come in. When the turbos spool up in either car -- and it doesn't take long -- it's as if a gale-force wind from the car gods has suddenly hit your sails. The V12 wins on sheer coolness, but it's only available in pricey and somewhat awkward-looking long-wheelbase trim; fortunately, the more fuel-efficient V8 makes for an excellent consolation prize. Regrettably, there's no diesel option to compete with hypermilers like the A8 TDI.
Back in the day, the 7 Series was the default choice if you wanted a driver's car in this class, but again, times have changed. BMWs have become heavier and more comfort-oriented in recent years, a trend that began with the previous-generation 7. The current car remains an accomplished handler by the numbers, but it's just not especially communicative or engaging, whereas rivals like the XJ, Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte seek to draw you into the driving experience.
The main point of a big luxury sedan, however, is arguably to cosset its occupants over long distances, and by this measure the 7 verges on a perfect 10. It glides down the highway with quiet confidence, making any speed you select seem too slow. The adjustable drive settings are a significant asset here, subtly changing the car's character to suit surface and pace.