Used 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Sedan Review
The 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is a rewarding car to drive, but it fails to justify its price premium relative to lesser 7 Series models, and its rivals are generally more impressive.
There are a couple of different ways to think about the long-wheelbase 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 luxury sedan. The first is that it's not a very logical choice for a luxury sedan due to the price premium it commands over a comparably equipped non-hybrid 740Li. The less expensive car sprints to 60 in an estimated 5.6 seconds -- same as the hybrid -- and its overall fuel economy is just 2 mpg behind. With such a modest margin at the pump, the ActiveHybrid 7 would need years to earn you back the extra thousands you spent up front.
But perhaps you're less concerned with expenses than with the way your car makes you feel. As a hybrid driver, you're affirming that eco-consciousness is a personal priority, even if the numbers don't show a significant improvement in efficiency. We suspect that this perspective is behind the bulk of ActiveHybrid 7 sales. If you're looking at full-size luxury sedans, you know you're not going to get Prius-like fuel economy -- but every mpg counts.
For shoppers who identify with this second school of thought, here are a few alternatives to consider. The ActiveHybrid 7's new diesel-powered sibling, the slightly more affordable 2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive, comes with standard all-wheel drive and yields 26 mpg combined, along with an adequate 6.1-second sprint to 60 mph. The plug-in 2015 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is considerably pricier, but you get quite a bit in return, including superior handling, a 416-hp power plant and an electric-only range of 15 miles. If you want to maximize your battery-powered motoring, there's no substitute for the purely electric Tesla Model S. Intrigued by the diesel 7 Series? Check out the 2015 Audi A8 TDI, too; it's a smidge slower than the 740Ld xDrive but returns an remarkable 28 mpg combined.
Judged on its own merits, the 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is a thoroughly satisfying luxury car that anyone would be proud to own. But given the availability of such appealing alternatives, we recommend looking elsewhere if you want to burnish your green credentials.
trim levels & features
The 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is offered in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, a self-leveling rear air suspension, adaptive xenon headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, four-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated power front seats, front seat memory settings and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Technology highlights include front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a digital instrument panel, a rearview camera, BMW's iDrive infotainment system, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 12-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.
Several options packages are available. The Cold Weather package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Executive package includes a power trunk lid, power-closing doors, a head-up display, 14-way power "multicontour" front seats with ventilation and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. The Lighting package adds LED headlights with automatic high beam control, while the M Sport package features 19-inch wheels, dark "shadowline" exterior trim, an aerodynamic body kit, a higher top speed and a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters.
The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system, a drowsiness monitor, side- and top-view cameras and a speed-limit display. For rear-seat passengers, there's the Luxury Rear Seating package (power-adjustable rear seats with ventilation and massage) and the Rear Entertainment package (two rear monitors, a rear iDrive controller and a six-DVD changer).
Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, an automatic parking system, adaptive cruise control (bundled with lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system that provides automatic emergency braking), a night-vision camera with pedestrian detection and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system. Additional interior upgrades include active front seats, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, power rear sunshades, ceramic-trimmed controls and extended leather surfaces.
performance & mpg
The 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that's paired with an electric motor backed by a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined output is 350 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard and sends power to the rear wheels.
BMW estimates that the ActiveHybrid 7 will accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway).
The 2015 ActiveHybrid 7 comes 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.
The optional Driver Assistance Plus package adds multiple parking cameras, a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system and a drowsiness monitor. The optional adaptive cruise control feature includes a collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.
Although the 2015 ActiveHybrid 7 has considerably more power and torque than the 740Li, it also weighs more, so its acceleration ends up being about the same. But unlike conventional 7 Series models, the ActiveHybrid can glide silently on electric power alone. The catch is that you're limited to 2.5 miles and a maximum speed of 37 mph -- and since no selectable "EV mode" is provided, you have to be very gentle with the gas pedal to prevent the engine from cutting in. In normal driving, the hybrid system is most noticeable when you need a sudden burst to pass or merge, providing a wallop of instant-on electric torque that the 740Li can't match.
In other respects, the ActiveHybrid 7 is virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the 7 Series lineup, which means it's one of the best-driving luxury sedans in the world. Certain rivals may outdo it in specific areas, but when it comes to all-around performance and comfort, the 7 is still a force despite being one of the oldest models in its segment. If there's a weak point here, it's that the big BMW is no longer the handling champion, having been eclipsed by sport-biased competitors like the Panamera. Nonetheless, only the most demanding pilots will be disappointed by the ActiveHybrid 7's sophisticated driving dynamics.
The 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 employs a conservative, driver-centric interior design that dates back to the current 7 Series' 2009 debut. That's not to say its technology is behind the times; on the contrary, the ActiveHybrid 7 is loaded to the hilt with nifty features, including a sharp digital instrument panel and a beautiful widescreen iDrive display with hybrid-specific functions. Updates over the years have kept this cabin fresh, among them a touchpad function for the iDrive controller and an optional concert-quality Bang & Olufsen audio system. The main downside is the lack of differentiation between the ActiveHybrid 7 and the ostensibly less prestigious ActiveHybrid 5, which mostly shares its larger sibling's layout.
In any case, the ActiveHybrid 7's interior is an exceptionally pleasant place to spend time. Supple leather upholstery, gleaming wood accents and other top-quality materials create an appropriately upscale ambience, while long-haul comfort is exemplary, particularly with the optional multicontour front seats and the Luxury Rear Seating package's power rear seats. Thanks to the ActiveHybrid 7's mandatory long-wheelbase configuration, the rear compartment offers truly luxurious legroom. The car's complex hybrid hardware compromises cargo capacity, however, with trunk space checking in at a relatively humble 12.7 cubic feet.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.