- A new 7 Series generation debuts, with a massively improved interior
- Impressive material choices and tech features
- No longer feels like a merely nicer 5 Series
- Introduces the seventh 7 Series generation for 2023
For decades, the 7 Series has been BMW's flagship vehicle — an executive sedan where most of the automaker's newest and most exciting features make their first appearance. While the last few generations of this mega four-door have been excellent all around, the interior design didn't feel all that differentiated from lesser BMWs. Compare the interior look of the current 7 Series with that of the more affordable 5 Series, for instance — or even the previous 7 Series — and you'd be hard-pressed to find significant contrasts aside from button finishes.
The trend of iterative change stops with the all-new 2023 BMW 7 Series. Rather than simply evolve the exterior and interior look, it feels like BMW is starting with a clean slate and throwing its wildest design ideas at the new 7 Series. A fully backlit dashboard? Check. A 36-speaker audio system? Sure. Door-mounted touchscreen controllers for the rear passengers? The redesigned 7 Series has that too.
It seems that the 7 Series might finally stop playing second fiddle to Mercedes-Benz's perpetually awesome and surprising S-Class.
The 7 Series will be available with two powertrains when it launches at the end of this year. The 740i is driven by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and is paired to a 48-volt mild hybrid system for decreased fuel consumption. Total output to the rear wheels is listed at 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, though the electric motor is able to bump torque to 398 lb-ft when needed. BMW says the 740i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, which is quite impressive given the 7 Series' size.
A more potent 760i xDrive will also be offered, swapping out the inline-six for a thunderous turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. The output of 536 horsepower and peak torque of 553 lb-ft is transmitted to all four wheels in this application and drops the estimated 0-60 mph time to 4.2 seconds. Both of these gasoline engines utilize an eight-speed automatic transmission.
A fully electric 7 Series variant will debut with this generation. BMW calls it the i7, and it is reviewed separately.
The 7 Series' cabin is a true marvel, starting with the opulent materials. The interior environment combines glass, open-pore wood and, of course, sumptuous leather that elevates the design far above any other BMW. The stainless steel elements on the doors are intricately detailed and are laid on top of illuminated speakers. At night, the 7 Series shows off its intricate ambient lighting elements, including the full-width backlit dashboard that BMW calls the Interaction Bar. The Interaction Bar incorporates simple climate controls in the section underneath the curved touchscreen, while buttons that automatically open and close the doors are located on the far outside edges. The center console houses the iDrive infotainment system controller and drive selector (both made of glass), along with a buttonless gloss black control panel that governs multiple vehicle functions.
Vehicles in this class treat rear-seat passengers to an experience that is just as serene as those in front, and the redesigned 7 Series is no exception. While accoutrements like pillow headrests, position-adjustable seats and a wireless charging pad are present, they're also expected. However, the small 5.5-inch touchscreens located on the door grab handles are quite unusual. They adjust the requisite seat, in addition to controlling heating and ventilated functions, the individual climate zone, ambient lighting, audio system and the available Theater Screen entertainment display (more on that later).
In terms of passenger space, the 7 Series has plenty. This new model is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor, and headroom is said to be improved. Even for my 6-foot-4 frame, there was an abundance of legroom and vertical space in all of the outboard positions.
Unsurprisingly, the 7 Series is loaded with cutting-edge technology, to the extent that it feels like you stepped into a concept car debuting at CES. Up front is a large curved display that houses a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 14.9-inch central touchscreen — the latter loaded with BMW's newest infotainment system, dubbed iDrive 8. Audio options include a standard 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system or an incredible 36-speaker surround-sound system with speakers integrated into the headrests and ceiling. Perhaps inspired by its rival at Mercedes-Benz, the 7 Series is one of the first BMWs with an augmented reality overlay for the navigation system. With a destination programmed into the nav, the front camera image will project onto the instrument cluster, complete with floating arrows that tell you where to turn. It's a neat feature that leans into the 7 Series' high-tech ethos.
That impression might best be exemplified by the new optional Theater Screen. A 31-inch widescreen display with 8K resolution unfolds from just below the panoramic sunroof to provide a wealth of entertainment options for rear passengers. It features integrated Amazon Fire TV and can stream ultra high-def content using the 7 Series' built-in 5G modem. It's incredible to see in person, although the screen might be a little too close for comfort for some passengers. When deployed, it also makes the rear window useless, and the 7 Series bizarrely does not offer a digital rearview mirror. Get used to using those side mirrors, folks.
There are also numerous improvements to the advanced driver aids onboard. The forward collision mitigation system, for instance, can now recognize oncoming traffic and brake to avoid a collision. The Parking Assistant Professional feature that debuted on the iX also makes an appearance here, allowing drivers to teach the vehicle how to pull into or out of tricky driveways. Drivers can also enjoy semi-automated driving at higher speeds. The available Highway Assistant feature allows drivers to go hands-free at speeds up to 80 mph — twice the previous speed limit.
All of these features and more add up to a 7 Series with tech that has grown by leaps and bounds compared to the old model.
Rather than take its predecessors' cues of looking like a slightly fancier 5 Series, the 2023 BMW 7 Series blazes its own path. Exterior and cabin design takes a giant leap forward with this generation, making the new 7 Series look truly worthy of the lofty price tag.