As BMW’s sedan flagship you’d expect the 7 Series to adhere to BMW’s typical design traits. Terrific engines, great handling, and luxurious interiors. But sometimes you don’t get everything you expect. No question the 7 Series has a super-luxurious interior. Everything is high quality with lots of soft panelsand copious wood trim and stitching details. All the storage cubbies are lined. Even the carpet is really, really nice. Same goes for the front seats. These big thrones are well padded, combining pleasing softness with underlying support. You can adjust bottom cushion length and the seats will even give you a massage. It’s great for those long trips. Our car is the 750 Li, with the L denoting a long-wheel base version. The enormous back doors are heavy and the electronic door checks don’t always work as you’d expect. Also, it’s hard to find the inside door handle to even pull the door shut. Once in, the back seat is very roomy and supportive for two. Foot rests are a nice touch. But there’s actually not enough room for three to fit comfortably thanks to a big tunnel. Living with the 7 Series sometimes makes you wonder if the car is a little too clever for its own good. The controls are complicated. Some standard radio functions, like manual tuning or choosing satellite require using the idrive controller to select it. The electronic shifter is fiddly, too. You push it forward to select reverse, running counter to almost every other transmission. Park is a separate button on top. But some of the technology is a help. The heads up display digitally shows the speed hovering in front of you so you don’t need to look down at the speedometer. You need to keep your eye on the speed because the 750 is a fast car. This turbo-charged 400-hp V8 does a great job of moving around this big barge, but don’t expect terrific fuel economy, though. When it comes time to stop, the 7 Series does a great job with sports-carlike braking distances. But the 7 Series doesn’t drive like a sports car or even a sports sedan for that matter. That’s a big shame because the 7 Series used to be the driver’s choice for a big luxury sedan. Body lean is well controlled but the steering is slow and unresponsive. And it really doesn’t give much driver feedback. The weighting is also artificially heavy. And adjusting among various sport modes doesn’t really help much. Overall, the car feels big and heavy to drive and that just isn’t fun. The thing is, the Jaguar XJ, Audi A8, those big sedans, they’re a lot of fun to drive. This car isn’t. At least the 7 Series is a comfortable cruiser. The cabin is serene, like a leather-lined bank vault. The ride has an underlying firmness. But ultimately it is compliant and well controlled. But the thing is, for this price, you expect a terrific, magic-carpetlike ride. The Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S class provide that. The 7 Series doesn’t. In the end, it’s flaws like the so-so ride and handling that, well, sour us on the BMW 7 Series. You see, when you spend nearly $100,000 for a big luxury sedan like this, you’re expecting to buy automotive perfection. And the problem is, there are other rivals that do this better.
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