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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 2013 lineup.
Although the 2013 BMW 7-Series looks much like last year's version--it's been given a modest makeover in front, as well as a new seat design and other interior improvements--it offers an all-new set of V-8 engines, a revised ActiveHybrid7 model, eight-speed automatic transmissions across the lineup, and a new generation of entertainment systems as well as an improved version of the iDrive interface.
There's plenty to like about the current fifth generation of the 7-Series. There's a nice amount of wedge to the shape (always hard to achieve in a long flagship), 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 2013, 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 of these models are 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.
- Modern, tailored styling refresh
- Very strong powertrains
- Handles well for a large luxury car
- Limo-like back seat (iL models)
- So many choices
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- Tech overload
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