Used 1998 BMW 7 Series
Edmunds' Expert Review
Last year, the big Bimmer was set to compete with all manner of luxury transport. The reintroduction of the "value leader" short wheelbase 740i allowed BMW to go after lower-priced models such as the Lexus LS400 and Infiniti Q45, as well as its usual target of the Jaguar XJ-6 Vanden Plas and Mercedes S-Class sedans. The strategy has worked well enough, BMW decided to keep the 740i in the lineup for the 1998 model year as well.
The news for this year is the addition of safety equipment to this luxurious autobahn cruiser. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is designed to prevent the 7-series sedans from slipping and sliding across the tarmac by controlling the car's yaw. If the system detects a steering wheel angle that is significantly different than the angle that the car is heading, one or more of the car's antilock brakes will engage, putting the car back on the proper course. This, of course, means 7-Series owners' will no longer be able to impress their kids by performing doughnuts in the parking garage of their law firm, but such is the price of safety.
The 7-Series sedans come in three flavors. Those who can't live without will want to check out the amazingly appointed 750iL. Want a stereo that sounds better than symphony hall? Check. Want an anti-theft security system that can put Fort Knox to shame? Check. Want a heated steering wheel? Check. Want 41 inches of rear legroom? Check. There aren't many features in the automotive marketplace missing on this car. Heck, they even addressed our only gripe by adding a steering wheel to the standard equipment list this ear. What's not to love?
Those on a budget, ha ha, should take a look at the 740i. Priced $33,000 less than its big brother, the 740i is geared towards buyers who are merely wealthy instead of obscenely rich. This car has almost everything one could desire, but there are a few items on the option sheet that buyers may want to check.
Nestled snugly between the 750iL and the 740i is the 740iL. The 740iL offers all of the space of the 750iL, but leaves enough money in the checking account to send your pride and joy to Stanford for a year.
The 7-Series long list of standard and optional features includes an integrated cellular phone, all-season traction control, xenon headlights and extra-thick window glass. Personal safety features include double locked doors, coded driveaway protection, two-step unlocking and the elimination of the passenger door locks--with a car this fine you have to be prepared for some unwanted attention.
It is always difficult to choose the "best" in a class of outstanding competitors, with entries from Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus and Infiniti; it seems flippant to say that one of these vehicles is totally superior to the others; but, we know which one we would buy if we won Lotto. BMW has a tradition of improving on excellence; the 1998 7-Series cars are no exception. If you have the money and need an impressive set of wheels, this is the car for you.
Features & Specs
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Men hate to ask for directions. It's a credo that must be written on every Y chromosome in existence: when in doubt, do not stop do not ask for directions do not show fear always protect your ego. It drives us women crazy. Men just keep driving in circles, assuring you that they'll easily figure out the way to the out-of-state countryside home of your third cousin twice removed in a blinding dust storm. Relax, they say, it's probably just around the next bend. Well, thirteen bends and a tank of gas later, you're still driving and the family reunion you were heading to has just about ended. And as you fold yourself out of the car later that evening, clutching your Tupperware container full of uneaten potato salad, you secretly vow to yourself that next time, you'll be the one driving to the family reunion.
What if I told you the scene above will never, ever happen again if you buy a BMW 740iL with the optional GPS navigation system? It's true. The GPS system that was installed in our test car makes it virtually impossible to ever get lost. Simply punch in the address of your destination on the keypad and start driving. You can view your progress on an impressively detailed map or just listen to the voice commands that tell you when to turn, what lane to be in and how to get back on track if you miss a turn. But if somehow you still manage to get lost, there's nothing to fear: just punch the emergency button on the screen and it will spit out your exact position, including the road you're on, the county you're in and which way you're heading.
This system will get you to your destination so surely, in fact, that you'll probably be disappointed when it's over. The driving experience of the BMW 740iL is so enticing and enjoyable that you may never make it to cousin Tillie's after all.
The license plate frame on the 740iL we drove late this spring said: "The Ultimate Driving Machine." That phrase was also plastered on the window sticker in large bold letters and written on every piece of paper that contained information about the BMW. Wow. Talk about an ego, I thought. After we took it for its first spin, though, we were all saying the same thing. Maybe it was a not-so-subliminal message, but it was a truthful one, by God. The Ultimate Driving Machine may even be an understatement in this case. There's absolutely nothing negative we can say about this car without making up lies, so we'll just tell you why we liked it so much.
First of all, it is fast. With a 4.4-liter DOHC 32-valve V8 engine making 282 horsepower coupled with a smooth-as-silk five-speed automatic transmission, the ride was both elegant and fun-an experience you didn't want to end. One editor said it handled like a sports car and he felt completely in control, even at high speeds. The steering was responsive and effortless, even while running slow-paced errands around town.
It was also comfortable--not comfortable like sitting on your couch watching sitcoms, but comfortable like soaking in a bubble bath at a five-star hotel. The plush leather seats seemed to make everyone happy, from big guys to small women. The rear seat passengers had adjustable footrests to encourage relaxation, extra trash compartments on the doors to help keep things tidy, climate controls, reading lights, an outlet for cell phones or computers, one-touch power windows and interesting seatbelts that originate on the inside of the seat near the flip-down armrest and buckle on the side by the door. Front seat occupants had just as many niceties, including automatic seats that can move in a gazillion positions, lumbar support and solid headrests. The light tan leather seats were pretty and the wood trim accented the interior in an elegant and understated way.
We were delighted that the radio controls were placed above the climate controls so that when the cupholders popped out they blocked the a/c rather than the stereo. Ergonomics were commendable, with large controls and displays, but we sometimes had to look in the manual to make sure we weren't going to eject through the sunroof when we pressed a poorly marked button. We would have liked a larger cubby in the center console area, but were happy that the top of the center console slid forward for people who need to sit closer to the power adjustable steering wheel. Other features included a mixture of digital and needle gauges on the dash, big pockets in the doors for maps and suntan lotion and a huge trunk that holds mountains of gear and luggage.
We were lucky enough to have snagged the 740iL on the same weekend we had planned a mountain getaway with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. They had flown in from Cincinnati, Ohio, to enjoy some fresh mountain air and weren't expecting a first-class ride to the chalet in Breckenridge, but that's what they got. The big V8 had no problem navigating through the Rocky Mountains and the vehicle's weatherband radio kept us informed of lingering storms. On the highway, the truck in front of us lost a bag of aluminum cans that rolled all over the road, but the BMW responded quickly and we avoided hitting any of them. If we had, though, we're sure the 740iL could have handled it, since the suspension soaks up potholes and irregularities in the road without ever losing its sporting nature.
Everyone agreed that the 740iL was a sedan to be reckoned with, and at least two editors said they would put one in their garages if they had enough cash. With a base sticker around $66,000, the BMW is pricey but not overpriced. Some competing models are priced lower, like the Cadillac Deville Concours, which stickers at $43,000, while others are much higher, like the Mercedes-Benz S500 at $88,000, so the BMW falls about average in the scheme of things.
If you're going to spend that much money on a car, though, go ahead and order the optional $2500 navigation system. It's too cool to pass up. Sort of like the sedan itself. For instance, one editor was rendered speechless when asked to describe his experience in the BMW, but finally managed to blurt out, "It's quite a chariot!"
It is, indeed.
Used 1998 BMW 7 Series Overview
The Used 1998 BMW 7 Series is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 740iL 4dr Sedan, 750iL 4dr Sedan, and 740i 4dr Sedan.
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