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2021 BMW 7-Series
Starting at: $87,795
Highs Classy exterior styling, smooth-running powertrains, serene cabin.
Lows Fussy infotainment gesture controls, lacks the athleticism of past 7-series models, entry-level trim doesn’t impress.
Verdict While it’s not as much fun to drive as we expect a BMW to be, the 7-series has the comfort part of the luxury car equation down pat.
In recent years, the BMW 7-series has evolved from sports sedan to plush luxobarge, and the 2021 model follows suit. Its soft suspension, quiet cabin, and pampering luxury features make it an appealing limo for affluent buyers, most of whom won’t mind if their chauffer isn’t particularly entertained by the car’s almost lifeless helm. A host of powertrain options is offered, ranging from the 320-hp inline-six to a fire-breathing twin-turbo V-12. But no matter which mill is underhood the 7-series remains a calm, collected cruiser that won’t break a sweat on long road trips and will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed when you reach your destination.
What’s New for 2021?
Little differentiates the 2020 and 2021 7-series models. Heated front seats, heated front armrests, a heated steering wheel, a built-in dash cam, and remote start are all standard features now, but the in-dash CD player has been discontinued. Heated rear seats are also now a standalone option.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Alpina B7: $144,195
The lead-footed among us may disagree, but the base powertrain—a turbocharged inline-six—in the 740i is perfectly suitable for this car’s relaxed nature. It still provides plenty of gumption when you need it, but otherwise it’s quiet and smooth, so it’s the one we’d recommend. Plus, its lower starting price frees up your money to go toward some luxury interior features. We’d splurge on the Driving Assistance Professional package—a semi-autonomous driving mode that is particularly useful in traffic jams—so we can relax and let the car do some of the work.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Engines and transmissions are at the top of the short list of highlights here. Every single one, from the 740i’s 320-hp turbocharged inline-six to the M760i’s insane 601-hp twin-turbo V-12, is velvety smooth and feels more muscular than its official horsepower figures indicate. Even the 745e plug-in’s combination of a turbocharged six-cylinder engine and an electric motor is powerful and manages to drive with a natural feel that’s absent from most hybrids. Every 7-series shares some variation of the same slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive (xDrive in BMW marketing speak) is optional on the 740i and standard on the rest of the lineup. No matter which of the car’s drive modes you select, the suspension is pillowy soft and body control is in short supply. The 7-series has adequate cornering grip, but the suspension’s moves in general—and the numb, light steering in particular—discourage their exploration.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
If not for the thirsty 12-cylinder M760i, the 7-series lineup overall would have an impressive set of EPA fuel-economy ratings. The six-cylinder 740i and 750i both returned better-than-average fuel economy on our 200-mile real-world highway fuel-economy test route at 30 and 29 mpg, respectively. The 745e plug-in hybrid model uses a 12.0-kWh battery pack located in the trunk and is said to provide up to 16 miles of electric-only driving. The pack can be recharged using 110-volt, 220-volt, or DC fast-charging systems, the latter two of which are the recommended ways to add juice quickly.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
For decades, BMW’s interior aesthetic has been serious and businesslike. That was acceptable when its cars were more about the serious business of driving. Lacking that ethos, the latest 7-series affords occupants the bandwidth to notice build quality, materials, and design that are merely average for this rich class. Sure, it’s spacious, but so is every limousine in this class. Sure, it’s luxurious, but one turn in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or even the Genesis G90, and you’ll be left wanting more from a car that starts well north of $80,000. Volumetrically speaking, the BMW’s trunk has competitors such as the Cadillac CT6 and the G90 licked. Its 18-cubic-foot trunk is at least two cubic feet larger than the trunks of those sedans, but the reality of packing it with real-world-size carry-on bags reveals a different outcome. We could only fit three of our carry-on suitcases inside the trunk of our 740i test vehicle, whereas the others held twice as many.
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