BMW, as any automaker should with its flagship model, is keeping its lineup of 7-Series sedans at the leading edge for engineering and technology by bringing out the best of what it has in a refreshed 2014 lineup.
Although the 2014 BMW 7-Series looks much like last year’s version–it’s been lightly made over this year with a new front-end appearance, as well as a new seat design and other interior improvements–it offers new V-8 engines, an updated ActiveHybrid7 edition, 8-speed automatics on every model, and a new entertainment system as well as an improved iDrive interface.
There’s plenty to like about the current fifth generation of the 7-Series. The body has a pronounced wedge, tough to design into a long sedan body, more kick in its tail, and with the long-wheelbase version, another 5.5 inches of rear-seat legroom. Front seats in the 7-Series have been redesigned for 2013 and are a thinner, more contoured design, mostly without extendable thigh bolsters this time; we haven’t yet had these out on a long road trip, but the 7-Series has a reputation for offering superb, multi-adjustable seats good for keeping you ache-free for hours, over long stretches of smooth and rough roads. And for tall drivers, the 7-Series is simply one of the best picks.
For 2014, all 7-Series models now get an air suspension system, as well as dynamic damping, which allows the driver to fine-tune the ride (and handling responsiveness) depending on the road and the passengers. Also for 2013, new ambient lighting, more sound insulation, and other small changes to the interior make it a more comfortable, engaging place to travel. At the base level, the 740i and 740Li come with a version of BMW’s twin-turbo in-line six, making 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The 7-Series’ V-8 engines are new this year. In the 750i models, the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 now makes 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Also featuring the V-8 is the performance-focused Alpina B7, which now makes 540 horsepower and 538 pound-feet, plus a suspension that’s firmer than any of the other models can manage in Sport mode, as well as bigger brakes, and other enhancements. The 0-60 time here is about 4.5 seconds. Each is offered with available xDrive all-wheel drive.
The 760Li, a long-wheelbase-only edition fitted with a 537-hp twin-turbo V-12, is at the top of the prestige scale. Count on 4.6 seconds to 60 mph, even though it weighs in at a more portly 4,800 pounds. New for 2013 is an Enhanced Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go, which will bring the vehicle to a complete stop if the driver doesn’t react to stopped traffic in time. Also, a standard Attention Assist system monitors the driver’s behavior and displays a coffee cup if it detects an unsafe level of fatigue.
A Driver Assistance Package remains available, bundling together blind-spot detection, a lane-departure warning system (which vibrates the steering wheel when the car drifts from its lane) and automatic high-beam headlights.
A revised version of BMW’s iDrive interface is included in all 7-Series models. So is a new navigation system adds 3D elements to the display, thanks to a more powerful 1.3-GHz processor and a dedicated 3D graphics card, improving the overall speed of the system as well. And what makes this latest iDrive better is its revised menu system, revised navigation displays, and expanded voice control–including voice-to-text features and other voice editing tools.
An optional rear-seat entertainment package adds an iDrive controller and two 9.2-inch screens, cleverly “floated” behind the rear seats rather than integrated into them. And on the audio front, a new Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound system brings 16 speakers, active digital signal processing, and Dirac Dimensions technology to improve the listening experience.
The 2013 BMW 7-Series has been refreshed, not redesigned, so what you see at first glance is quite familiar–just with a newfound sense of being a little more detail-oriented.
Design-wise, the current 7-Series has all along been a standout in its class, with great proportions. Forget about the oddly tiered rear end that drew so many snarky comments from many longtime BMW enthusiasts a number of years ago; the current version is a standout, with a much more relaxed silhouette and more exciting proportions.
In front, the 2013 7-Series gets a slightly sharpened look, with a front end that brings the eyes to focus downward on a long, horizontal air intake that cuts across the front end. The twin-kidney grille looks a little more gaping, with the number of slats reduced from 13 to 9, and all the surfaces around it have been freshly contoured. And in back, there’s a long chrome band that spans the bumper, while its taillights grow more detailed and contrast-oriented.
There’s plenty to like about the current fifth generation of the 7-Series. There’s a fair bit of wedge in the shape, which is tough to draw on a long sedan. The 7er has more kick in its tail, and with the long-wheelbase version, another 5.5 inches of rear-seat legroom.
Inside, the front passenger seats have been slimmed, while in back, on long-wheelbase models there’s a touch more headroom. The cabin has a straightforward, uncluttered look with streamlined shapes, wood trim, and ceramic-coated controls. But most notable is the all-new version of iDrive. It combines with a reconfigurable display ahead of the driver, and means the cabin experience for the driver should be more aesthetically coordinated.