Driving enthusiasts looking for a car that’s both luxurious and still fun to drive have few choices when shopping for a flagship-sized sedan that hits all the marks. Luckily, the vehicle that best hits all the marks for the category is the 2011 BMW 7 Series. The 7 Series is the top of the BMW sedan food chain, and there’s a cornucopia of models and configurations to choose from. Big or bigger, hybrid or Q-ship, BMW has a 7 Series bone to throw to even the most rabid buyer, while a panoply of long-wheelbase models doesn’t shortchange the executive express shopper.
There are ten basic permutations of the 7 Series to choose from, starting with the standard-wheelbase iterations. The 740i Sedan (MSRP $71,000) is where the model lineup begins. This refined, roomy sedan moves 106 cubic feet of passenger volume in a fleet-footed way with 315 horsepower from BMW’s TwinPower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. This powerplant confidently muscles the 740i around while still returning 25 mpg on the highway. A full array of BMW option packages are available to outfit the 740i with opulent luxury, cutting-edge technology that enables deep device integration and entertainment, appearance and performance upgrades.
The 750i (MSRP $84,300) keeps turbocharging in the mix with its 4.4-liter TwinPower V8. The rear wheels are driven with 400 hp, while highway fuel economy remains astonishingly good at 22 mpg. The 750i is everything that’s great about the 740i, amplified. Both models feature lightweight construction, featuring a redesigned front suspension with steel springs and aluminum axles that’s more finely tuned than anything you’ll find under the 7 Series’ competition.
All versions of the 7 Series handle with controlled precision, but there are times where the solid security of this fundamentally peerless vehicle can be augmented by all-wheel drive. Drivers who must slog through inclement conditions know this situation well, though that’s not the only reason the 750i xDrive sedan exists. With a rear-wheel bias designed into its intelligent all-wheel drive system, the 750i xDrive sedan packs the ability to direct its power exactly where it needs to go. The system boosts confidence in the baking sun of August just as effectively as it does when there’s snow crunching underfoot. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system brings its millisecond-quick reflexes to the long-wheelbase 750Li so you can have the enhanced space cake and still devour asphalt, too.
There are three extended-wheelbase 7 Series; the 740Li, 750Li and 760Li. All feature a cavernous 115 cubic feet of passenger space, with the same quick-witted powertrain as the standard-length versions, the 740Li (MSRP $75,500) and 750Li (MSRP $88,200) don’t even sacrifice fuel economy for extra room. Growth without weight gain, what a concept. Packing a turbine-smooth 6.0-liter turbocharged V12, the 760Li (MSRP $137,300) is the supreme of the sevens. The V12 silkily spins out 535 hp that’s directed through a ninja-quick eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed enhances performance with closely-spaced ratios and a steep overdrive ratio that keeps the engine settled and sipping fuel on the highway to the tune of 19 mpg despite power and performance that shames many sports cars. The 760Li is also packed with luxury features like 20-way Multi-Contour power seats with four-way lumbar support in front and power rear Comfort seats with heating and ventilation, handsome Burled Walnut Wood trim and ceramic controls with a lustrous black glaze. The list of comfort and convenience features is seemingly endless, with equipment like a hard drive navigation system, head-up display and a 12-GB entertainment server. The doors even shut themselves with a powered soft-close feature.
The hot-rod 7 Series is the ALPINA B7 (MSRP $122,600,) which cranks the 4.4 liter V8 up to 500 hp and is essentially a custom-crafted automobile built on the basis of the 7 Series. An electronically adjustable suspension with Active Roll Stabilization delivers on the promise made by distinctive design cues. The ALPINA B7 is luxurious inside with a Switch-Tronic steering wheel wrapped in Lavalina leather and exclusive Myrtle Burl wood trim or piano black accents. All BMW 7 Series cars are distinctive, but the ALPINA B7 is the one that’s instantly coveted by performance car cognoscenti.
If you lean more green, the 7 Series has you covered, as well, with the ActiveHybrid 750i and 750Li sedans. The 750i and 750Li hybrids (MSRP $97,000 and $101,000, respectively) are the world’s fastest street-legal hybrid models. There’s 455 hp on tap thanks to a tag-team of turbocharged V8 and electric motor propulsion. It’s how you get exhilarating performance and 24 mpg all in one. BMW’s iDrive system uses a 10.25-inch screen and wraps entertainment and communications into a single easy-to-use interface. Bluetooth® technology is expanded beyond just hands-free calling to include Google Maps functionality and it will even read your email and text messages to you. A navigation and entertainment server is standard, and the optional rear entertainment system integrates dual widescreen LCDs in the back of each front seat to keep passengers entertained while the 750i ActiveHybrid whisks along toward its destination.
While the luxury sedan marketplace isn’t a playground for everyone, there’s a BMW 7 Series model that will match the tastes of every buyer who wades in.