2023 BMW 7 Series: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
BMW came to market with the first 7 Series more than 40 years ago, and the big sedan has held its place at the top of the German automaker’s lineup ever since. Now the luxurious 2023 BMW 7 Series sedan enters its seventh generation with a new design direction, high levels of luxury and technology, and a range of new engines. Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of the all-new i7 — BMW’s first all-electric 7 Series.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Looks
Showcasing a new design language for upper-level BMWs, the 2023 BMW 7 Series gets a fresh face and a clean design emphasized by a long, sculpted hood. BMW’s iconic kidney grille dominates the front end and can be illuminated for even more dramatic effect. Flanking the grille are two-piece split headlights. At the hoodline sit extremely slim LED running lights that can be further highlighted with optional Swarovski crystal details. Below the running lights are subdued low- and high-beam headlights set back into the front fascia; these standard adaptive LED lights become visible only when activated.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIdentifying the i7
Rather than creating a standalone electric flagship sedan like Mercedes-Benz did with the EQS, BMW built the new 7 Series to be able to handle gas, hybrid, or electric powertrains. Since the vehicle’s various iterations are built on the same structure and use the same body, the electric i7 looks much like its gas-powered siblings. The only telltale design elements are its solid grille – which in black is difficult to identify without looking closely — and the lack of tailpipes at the rear when compared to the 760i (the 740i has hidden tailpipes making it harder to differentiate). Even the charge point and fuel-filler door are in the same location.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCrisp Lines
The 2023 BMW 7 Series has elegant styling with door handles and windows that sit flush with the bodywork. A single character line runs from the edge of the running lights to the corners of the taillights, and sculpted doors have a bold line that emphasizes the side skirts. The new 7 Series is about 5 inches longer than its predecessor, although overall proportions remain the same. This new styling gets further enhanced by available two-tone paint.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
The clean design of the 2023 BMW 7 Series continues at the rear of the vehicle with horizontal lines that give the car a wide-looking stance. Slim LED taillights wrap around the corners, adding further elegance to the overall shape. The 760i features quad exhaust pipes; however, the rear fascia looks the same for all variants.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2023 BMW 7 Series is offered in three trim levels: 740i, 760i xDrive, and electric i7 xDrive60. A more powerful M750e plug-in hybrid is expected to join the lineup next year. The 2023 BMW 740i has a base price of $93,300, while the V8-powered 760i xDrive starts at $113,600. The full-electric i7 xDrive60 resides at the top of the range at a base price of $119,300.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGas Engines
Powering the 2023 BMW 740i is an upgraded version of BMW’s TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid technology that produces 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The 760i xDrive upgrades with a 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V8 that takes advantage of BMW Motorsport technology to deliver 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Both powerplants get teamed with a quick-shifting 8-speed Sport Steptronic automatic transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceElectric Powertrain
The new i7 continues the BMW Group’s advance toward an all-electric lineup, aiming to prove that the luxury and performance of an EV can match that of a top-line V8-powered model. Powering the i7 are two highly efficient electric motors. Up front is a 258-horsepower motor; the rear motor produces 313 horses for a combined output of 536 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque — almost the same as the V8-powered 760i. The electrically excited synchronous motors use an electrical feed to turn the rotor rather than fixed permanent magnets, eliminating the need for rare earth materials in its construction.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceImpressive Performance
Most 7 Series buyers aren’t looking to win drag races with their luxury sedans — although they like knowing they could. All three 7 Series variants deliver a lightning-quick response. The 740i runs to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, while the V8-powered 760i does the same in 4.1 seconds. The electric i7 weighs about 1,000 pounds more than the 760i, but all its low-end torque is available instantly and easily overcomes the additional weight to take the big sedan to 60 mph in a slightly slower (yet still impressive) 4.5 seconds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCharging
With a 101.7 net kWh lithium-ion battery, the BMW i7 can be charged on a DC fast charger at rates up to 195 kW. This means BMW’s electric flagship can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in about 34 minutes, or add 80 miles of range in about 10 minutes. Charging time on a Level 2 home charger should take about 10.5 hours — easily accomplished overnight. According to the U.S. EPA, the i7 has a range of 318 miles and is rated at 87 MPGe city / 89 MPGe hwy / 87 MPGe combined. Owners of the new i7 get unlimited free charging sessions from Electrify America for three years.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
As expected of a BMW flagship, the cabin of the 7 Series gets outfitted with a blend of high-end materials and high-tech features. Most noticeable is an elegantly curved screen that presents a 12.3-inch display in front of the driver and a 14.9-inch center control display. Both displays act as one unit arranged beneath a single glass surface. This high-tech display sits on the dash with multiple trim options, including open-pore wood or polished carbon fiber.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInteraction Bar
Taking ambient lighting to the next level, the 7 Series features a wide strip that stretches across the dashboard and into the front doors, featuring a unique backlit crystalline surface that can display multiple colors, all tied into selectable themes via the interface. Touch-sensitive controls for defroster and glove box access are also integrated within the strip.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriver Display
The digital driver display of the 2023 BMW 7 Series is completely configurable and easily done via buttons and dials on the steering wheel. The driver can choose which information to present and the style of that display. In addition, the head-up display can be configured with information projected onto the windshield in front of the driver. This includes BMW’s virtual navigation that displays a view out the front with directional arrows overlayed on the image to provide easy-to-follow directions.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePower Doors
A unique feature of the 2023 BMW7 Series are its available power doors. Any of the doors can be opened or closed via buttons on the door latch or inside the cabin. Sensors built into the doors ensure that the doors won’t open into any object, be it a wall, another car or a person. It’s possible to open or close any or all doors via voice control or via the infotainment screen — certainly a fun party trick, and we suppose it eliminates the need for a chauffeur to get out and open the door.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceiDrive 8
The 7 Series comes with the latest version of iDrive, which includes the BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which expands interaction with the infotainment system. Access to the various controls can be made via touchscreen, shortcut buttons on the center console, the iDrive dial, or the preferred way, by voice. The voice control system is impressive — activated via a button or by saying the phrase “Hey BMW,” the Intelligent Personal Assistant responds and can take care of many tasks that would require digging deep into the menu system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePersonal Assistant
The voice control system works well — noticeably better than many that we’ve experienced in vehicles of similar caliber from other automakers. We were able to set the navigation destination, change the radio station, adjust the temperature and fan settings, as well as turn on the seat massager, all via voice commands. The Personal Assistant can also lower or raise windows — cool, although not much easier than just using the buttons on the door. We did like that the Personal Assistant has a sense of humor – if you tell it “I’m bored” it will suggest putting the car in Sport Mode, and when asked where it lived, the response was, “Have you looked in the glove box?”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Seats
BMW designers and engineers developed new seats for this flagship sedan, offering wider surfaces and extensive electrical adjustments. Seat heating and ventilation are available, as is a massage function with nine programs. Many materials and colors are available, including full Merino leather or our favorite — soft cashmere seat trim, which is not only extremely soft and comfortable, it makes the cabin look more like a premium living space than a car.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
BMW’s new multifunction rear seats are standard on the i7 and optional on other variants, providing heating, cooling, and massage for occupants. Each rear door can be equipped with a 5.5-inch color touchscreen display that allows passengers to control audio, climate function, seat adjustment, ambient lighting and the BMW Theater Screen. Overall, the rear seat is spacious and very comfortable with available pillow-like head restraints.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExecutive Lounge
The 2023 BMW 7 Series can also be fitted with an Executive Lounge option that turns the right-rear seat into first-class accommodations. This seat can be reclined up to 42.5 degrees and features adjustable neck cushions. For ultimate comfort, the front seat can be moved forward to accommodate a full-extension leg rest. (A heel rest extends from the front passenger seatback as well.)

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear-Seat Entertainment
Unlike any other luxury car on the market, the 7 Series also has an available BMW Theater Screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV. The system uses a 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen display with a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, as well as a rear sunshade that automatically closes with system activation. The large screen folds into the roof when not in use.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTrunk Space
Given that the 7 Series is such a large car, we expected the trunk would offer more storage space. The 7 Series is larger than its predecessor, although the trunk space is actually smaller by about five cubic feet. Even so, there’s room for a few large pieces of luggage or a significant haul of groceries. The i7 has a slightly smaller trunk than the gas-powered variants.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriving the EV
BMW invited us to Palm Springs, California, to experience both the electric i7 and V8-powered 760i. Heading out in the i7, we discovered the electric powertrain is a prime motoring choice for a flagship luxury sedan. The ride is supremely quiet and smooth, and with the instant torque of an electric powertrain the i7 always has plenty of available power. Seats are comfortable and with multiple massage options as well as heating and ventilating, we would have been happy to take the i7 on a long road trip.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriving the V8
We also had the opportunity to spend time in the V8-powered 760i xDrive and, yes, we like this variant as well. Unlike other BMWs, the typical throaty V8 exhaust note is muted for the 7 Series. Even in a luxury sedan, we’d still like to hear that exhaust. Instead, we could hear more engine noises when the big V8 reached higher revs, and frankly it isn’t as pleasing to the ear.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Shifting
Adding to the smooth driving experience of the 2023 BMW 7 Series is its quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission teamed with the V8 powerplant. Where the EV has no shifting — power simply comes on quickly and smoothly — the V8 feels practically the same with almost imperceptible shifts. Gear changes do become more noticeable when the 760i is pushed hard, but even those shifts are still quick when the system is left on its own or when using the paddle shifters to manually change gears.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePrecise Handling
The 2023 BMW 7 Series is no small car, but it’s also a BMW which means it can handle any winding road with poise. Steering is precise with decent feedback, and both variants we drove felt stable and controlled even when pushed hard into corners. The electric i7 weighs about 1,000 pounds more than the V8, although the added heft is hardly noticeable thanks to the batteries being positioned so low in the chassis, as well as the instantaneous torque making it possible to quickly accelerate out of the corners.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSurprisingly Similar
It’s an interesting experience to drive the same car with two completely different types of powertrains; surprisingly, the performance feels surprisingly similar. Perhaps a vehicle like this is a great way to start the transition to electric for drivers who are hesitant to give up their V8 because that day is coming when the V8 is no longer produced.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePower Boost
Both the i7 and 760i have a “Boost” label on the left shift paddle, which provides a fun party trick. Holding the boost button for a few seconds brings up a 10-second countdown in the center of the driver display. For those 10 seconds the big sedan gets a slight power boost for both electric and gas-powered models. Granted there isn’t a drastic change in acceleration, but the experience is fun.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOne-Pedal Driving
BMW allows the driver to choose different levels of battery recuperation, and selecting ‘B’ on the gear selector provides the maximum and allows for one-pedal driving. With this setting, the car will slow to a full stop simply by letting off the accelerator, making it possible to drive using only one pedal. This provides the highest level of battery regeneration and makes for quicker reaction on winding roads, with no need to move from throttle to brake and back again.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHighway Assistant
On divided multilane highways, the 2023 BMW 7 Series offers a level of autonomous driving that allows hands-free driving. Similar to the typical adaptive cruise control, the driver sets the speed and following distance and the car will stay in the lane, even around turns. When approaching a slower vehicle, the driver can simply hit the turn signal and the car will automatically change lanes to pass. The system still requires the driver to pay attention to the road and will provide an alert if the driver is not paying attention.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The 2023 BMW 7 Series is a veritable tour de force of the latest high-tech convenience and driver-assist features, all wrapped in an elegant new package. With an electric drivetrain for early adopters and the twin-turbo V8 for traditionalists, the 7 Series provides the ultimate choice for buyers. Providing excellent performance from either powertrain underscored by an elegant, comfortable interior, the new 7 Series is perfectly suited to continue its role as the BMW flagship sedan.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
Pros: Modern styling; high-tech luxurious interior; quiet performance.
Cons: Noisy V8; slightly smaller cabin.
Bottom Line: The new flagship 2023 BMW 7 Series with high-tech features and available electric powertrain carries the brand smartly into the future.

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