2013 BMW 7 Series Road Test Review
2013 BMW 7 Series Provides Premium Luxury and Premium Performance
Scores High: Excellent power and handling, available all-wheel-drive, affordable by luxury car standards
Scores Low: Fuel thirsty when engaging the turbos, long wheelbase version is big inside…and out
Total Car Score Analysis
For a car BMW proclaims “is the most changed of any 7 Series mid-model update” the new 2013 BMW 750Li seems mighty familiar. Park last year’s 7 Series next to the new 2013 version of the iconic luxury sedan and other than the front grille (still kidney-shaped, but the new one now has nine slats per “kidney”), and a little more chrome trim in the rear taillight area they appear as identical as DNA clones.
But our recent test drive in the 2013 750Li xDrive proves there’s still life in BMW’s fifth-generation 7-Series, even if it remains somewhat awkwardly styled. Exemplary handling matched with a sublime ride quality (thanks to the new adjustable Dynamic Damper Control) means the big Bimmer’s passenger-toting pedigree is among the best in the segment. BMW has also upgraded the 7 Series’ optional audio equipment to a 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen system; it also improved its iDrive system to keep pace with the latest infotainment advances by the competition.
Other than the aforementioned grille and trim alterations, there are new LED headlights for the 2013 7-Series. Beyond that it’s the same slightly-less-controversial 7 that was redesigned last in 2009. Though not as attractive as the German luxury sedan competition, the 7 Series has lost most of its notorious Bangle butt and replaced its ill-advised flame surfacing with more traditional body creases. The result may not be the most beautiful premium car on the road, but at least its quirky design is no longer an impediment to on-the-fence car buyers.
Roughly $13,000 more than the entry-level 740 (in Li guise; US versions of the 740 do not offer xDrive), the 750Li represents real value given its two extra pistons and twice as many turbochargers, both important attributes in a segment where engineering bragging rights are as critical as actual performance. The 4.4-liter V8 sees those twin turbochargers resting in the valley between the cylinder banks where the intake manifold normally rests, and the intakes now taking pride of place where the exhaust normally resides. The shorter exhaust path to the turbochargers is one of the reasons the 2013 750i can claim 445 horsepower (45 more than last year’s model) and 480 pound-feet of torque (30 more than before) from only 4.4 liters of displacement. These increases are largely the result of BMW’s patented Valvetronic system being added to the 750 for the first time.
The improved performance renders the top-of-the-line V12 760Li superfluous. The 750’s 4.8-second acceleration time to 60 mph is just 0.2 seconds behind the V12 760. But the true proof of these latest engine upgrades is just how effortless that performance comes. Before the tach needle even swings past 2,000 rpm the 750 jets away like a car carrying half of much weight. The engine power peaks at a mere 5,500 rpm, and it is the casual way it generates scorching performance that sets BMW’s turbocharged V8 apart from lesser engines. Even performance, sometimes, is all about style.
The 750’s poise is aided by the addition of BMW’s 8-speed automatic transmission to its powertrain. More speeds make for smoother shifting, smoother cruising at highway speeds and fewer droplets of hi-test doing it. Previously, only the 760 enjoyed the eight-speed transmission; now it’s used throughout the entire 7-Series lineup, including the 740. BMW also gives the 8-speed automatic much of the credit for the 25 % improvement in fuel economy it boasts (in the EU cycle) for the 2013 750.
In the chassis department, the biggest improvement to the portfolio is the inclusion of self-leveling suspension to the standard equipment list on all 7-Series models. BMW’s Driving Experience Control incorporates five settings that include ECO PRO, Comfort, Comfort +, Sport and Sport +, all with their own damping characteristics — as well as other alterations for throttle response and steering effort, etc. Each setting provides the 7 Series with distinct qualities to serve a variety of driving conditions. The compliance of Comfort+ was the preferred choice for most of our time in the new 7 Series, though the firmness of the Sport+ mode is appreciated when the road is both smooth and twisty.
Another improvement for 2013 is the new Dynamic Damper Control, which the company says alters the dampers in each shock absorber individually. There is also a continuously adjustable antiroll-bar system available (it’s standard on the 760 and optional on the rest of the lineup).
That the same car could both play in the twisties and spoil on freeway jaunts, all while weighing well over two tons and stretching 205.5 inches from stem-to-stern (on the 750Li version we tested) proves the worth of BMW’s chassis development. You can dress up BMW sedans with all manner of weight-increasing technology, hobble them with supposedly inferior electric steering (called Active Steering in BMW parlance) and even make them as large as a Caribbean cruise ship and the darn things still handle with aplomb and grace.
Interior Design and Function
Inside you’ll find all manner of enhancements, some of them dramatic by the standards of mid-model refreshes. The gauge cluster, for instance, is now essentially a customizable laptop screen. Toggle the aforementioned Driving Experience Control button through its range of settings and, along with the suspension setup, the speedometer and tachometer layout changes. The ECO PRO mode, for instance, displays how hard the driver is pressing the throttle pedal, along with instantaneous fuel economy information and how much brake energy is being created. In Sport mode, the gauges adopt BMW’s classic orange hue and all extraneous information is deleted so the driver can concentrate on the road. That said, we prefer the classic, four-gauge look of Comfort mode.
BMW is also following the competition’s lead in offering a Bang & Olufsen audio system in the premier editions of the 7-Series. Like the others, the BMW uses pop-up Acoustic Lens (speaker) technology, but in the 7-Series it’s a large singular speaker located in the center of the dashboard rather than smaller twin speakers at each corner. The result is the same, however; crystal clear high notes (symbols, etc.) to match the B & O system’s 1200 watts of bass-pumping power. There are also new “floating” (adjustable) screens for the optional rear-seat entertainment system to increase viewing options for those being chauffeured.
BMW has upgraded most of the electronics for its ConnectedDrive system, including major changes to iDrive and the addition of digital safety nannies like the new Attention Assist (it alerts you when you’re dozing off). Other than the new gauge set and some minor revisions to the seats, little of the 750’s décor is changed for 2013. Of course, the major attribute of the Li long wheelbase version is its incredible rear seat legroom.
2013 BMW 7 Series Primary Features and Options
BMW’s new Driving Experience Control offers ECO PRO mode to increase fuel economy by incorporating a new auto Stop/Start function. It also provides for increased “coasting” when slowing down from high speed and the ability to recoup kinetic energy from braking. While the coasting and brake regeneration mechanisms are seamless, stopping and restarting such a large engine while at a stoplight is intrusive for what is, after all, supposed to be the ultimate in luxury rides. Thankfully, there’s a button to disable it.
No update of any German luxury sedan would be complete without a host of computer and interactive upgrades; the 750i does not disappoint. BMW’s ConnectedDrive now includes a BMW Night Vision and Dynamic Light Spot system that incorporates pedestrian recognition. Lane departure warning and automatic fatigue recognition alerts, as well as notifications to the local speed limits, are included as well. But BMW is most vocal about the navigation’s system’s sharper graphics and 3D menu displays.
While all manner of options are available, perhaps the most useful is the Active Roll Stabilization system, which measures lateral acceleration and uses hydraulic actuators to stiffen the antiroll bars to counter lean in corners.
It’s Perfect For…
The 2013 BMW 750i is ideal for the luxury buyer seeking effortless performance – performance that was once unique to more pricey performance luxury sedans like BMW’s own 760. With the increase in power, the addition of the 8-speed transmission and the inclusion of high-line luxury items like the incredibly sonorous Bang & Olufsen audio system, all the 760 now offers is a badge and an inflated price tag.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 BMW 750 Li xDrive
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $93,895
Options on Test Vehicle: Active Roll Stabilization ($2,000) Destination Charge ($895)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $96,790
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.