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SAFETY | 10 out of 10
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Sideview camera 'lets the driver view oncoming traffic when trying to enter a road from, say, an alley or garage exit'
Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, front and rear side airbags, knee airbags, and curtain side airbags
Head-up display 'is easily legible'
Mostly because the BMW 7-Series is a relatively rare (and very expensive model), it hasn't been crash-tested by either of the U.S. safety agencies in its current generation. But the 7-Series' reputation for providing some of the best occupant safety--as well as some of the most advanced safety technology in the world--makes it a very safe bet.
Every 7-Series gets standard front, side, and side-curtain airbags; rear-seat side airbags; front-seat active head restraints; and knee airbags. Anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, of course, and BMW also fits a rearview camera, a front-view 180-degree camera, and parking sensors to assist drivers in keeping the 7-Series clear of parking-lot trouble.
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.
All-wheel-drive models of the 7-Series include standard hill descent control--in this case, not for amazing off-road traction, but for controlling the car on icy, messy roads.
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.
As much as we like the available head-up display in the 7-Series (it's better done than efforts from other automakers), we'd probably skip simply because it tends to clutter the view of the road ahead. As does the night-vision system, which may prove as distracting as it is helpful.
The 2013 BMW 7-Series has a good track record for safety, as well as a strong set of advanced safety technology.