- Formal yet athletic appearance
- Strong powertrains
- Handles well for a large luxury car
- Back seat comfort better than a limo (iL)
- Many chances to upgrade
- Tech overload
- ActiveHybrid 7 should be smoother
- Interiors without upgrades feel stark
The 2014 BMW 7-Series is not just luxurious and comfortable, but exceptionally quick and technologically advanced.
The 7-Series has long been the flagship model for BMW, a roomy luxury sedan that's also where you'll find some of the most advanced technology in the world. Even though the 2014 BMW 7-Series builds on bones that are now more than five years old, last year's refresh, continued technology upgrades, and strong, efficient powertrains keep this trend-setter relevant-as well as one of our top high-end luxury sedan picks.
Last year, BMW gave the 7-Series a light makeover at the front end, and a more intensive workout inside, with new seats, better back seats, and new trim packages. It also added a new range of V-8 turbo engines, an updated hybrid model, and it made 8-speed automatics the norm across the range.
For 2014, BMW makes some minor feature and interior changes, but otherwise carries its big sedan over. That leaves its handsome body mostly unchanged. Its proportions hit the mark, with a nice wedge in its profile and a smart upkick at its rear end. Standard and long-wheelbase cars (with 5.5 extra inches of back-seat space) have equally dramatic looks. The interior wins us over, too, with a straightforward shape that avoids some of the clutter BMW is prone to. The switches and knobs have ceramic finishes here, and the wood is tightly grained.
There are five different powerplants offered in this year's 7-Series: 740i, 750i, 760i, Active Hybrid 7, and top-performance Alpina B7. All of these models include standard rear-wheel drive, although some offer all-wheel drive. While those who appreciate the 7-Series' sport-sedan pedigree will be able to parse out (and appreciate) the finer differences between these models, across the board you'll surely find that the 7-Series models accelerate swiftly, with amazing grip and more poise from a vehicle this size. These are for the most part surprisingly satisfying sedans for the driver, although comfort, luxury, and tech are at the top--and that also shows more for some models than others.
The 2014 BMW 740i and 740Li are the base models in the lineup; they come with a version of BMW's twin-turbo in-line six, making 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. With a curb weight about 200 pounds under that of the V-8 sedans, the 6-cylinders have more enjoyable handling. The 750i and 750iL adopt last year's brand-new V-8s, which put out 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque; BMW pegs their 60-mph runs at 4.7 seconds. The 760Li has a 537-hp twin-turbo V-12, but lots of features come standard, and that adds up to a portly curb weight. The 7-Series athlete is the Alpina B7, with its 54-hp V-8, firmly tuned suspension that's firmer than any of the other models can manage in Sport mode, bigger brakes, and other dynamic enhancements. The Alpina runs to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
All 7er sedans have Driving Dynamics Control, which lets drivers adjust steering heft, damper stiffness, transmission shifts, and throttle response--but allows drivers to twiddle with the settings to fit their habits. Air suspension is also standard. Ride quality isn't soft and pillowy, or at all bouncy; rather it's very well controlled, and about as firm as possible without compromising comfort.
The 7-Series does a top-drawer job of ferrying adults in any of its four outboard seats. Tall passengers fare particularly well in the long-wheelbase 7er. The thinner, more contoured front seats and redesigned back seats feel swell. BMW will install bucket-style seats in back, and equips them with ventilation and massage functions.
The refresh last year also brought new ambient lighting, more sound insulation, and other small changes to the interior make it a more comfortable, engaging place to travel. We still haven't revisited the 7-Series since then, but we hope to soon update those with proper 2014-model-year impressions.
BMW's iDrive controller still runs the infotainment systems. This year, it adopts a touch-sensitive surface that can accept handwritten input. In tandem with a reconfigurable display, it now has more intuitive, and coordinated, operation. It's also a better-looking interface. Attention Assist lights a coffee-cup icon on the dash when a camera detects a nodding-off driver. Adaptive cruise control can stop the car at low speeds if it detects a stopped vehicle or obstacle ahead.
Finally, rear-seat passengers can have their own iDrive controller, twin-screen entertainment, and control over a lovely Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker audio system.