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2011 BMW 7-Series Review

This review was written when the 2011 BMW 7-Series was new.

Combining nimble handling with a comfortable interior, the 2011 BMW 7-Series impresses reviewers. Edmunds writes, “The 2011 BMW 7 Series is one of the most popular entries and also one of the sportiest, putting an emphasis on a dynamic driving experience while still being quite practical.”

Along with that balance of comfort and nimble handling, the 7-Series is available with three engine choices to cater to your needs. New for 2011 is a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine in 740i and 740Li models. While most super luxury cars offer V8 engines as standard equipment, reviewers say that there’s no need to avoid six-cylinder 7-Series if you’re concerned about power. Its turbochargers make it just as quick from zero to 60 mph as a Lexus LS and the EPA says it gets 17/24 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

However, if you want a super luxury sedan with more power, BMW offers turbo-charged V8 and V12 engines that will make the 7-Series accelerate just as well as it handles. Most reviewers also approve of BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control, which allows ride control and steering adjustments that range from “Comfort” to “Sport +”. Still, the 7-Series is more of a driver’s car than a posh cruiser. If you’re looking for a super luxury car with an ultra-smooth ride, rivals like the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class might be a better fit.

Inside, the 7-Series pleases the automotive press with quality materials and a decent suite if standard electronic features. While the cabin design is luxurious, it’s still not as opulent as some of its rivals – items like heated and cooled seats and an iPod connection do not make BMW’s list of standard features on lower trim levels. These are often standard equipment at this price point, but in the 7-Series you need to add option packages to get them. However, reviewers like the improvements made to BMW’s once-hated iDrive system. The 7-Series is roomy: ample passenger space is available front and rear, and choosing an extended-wheelbase “Li” model makes the backseat of the 7-Series the most comfortable place to be.

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Other Cars to Consider

At $93,000, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class can’t compete with the 7-Series in terms of price, but Mercedes’ flagship is not without its pluses, which include more standard interior tech, a more luxuriously appointed cabin and a posh, balanced ride. The S-Class also comes with a more powerful engine, which means that you’d have to opt for the $82,500 BMW 750i to compete with the Benz in terms of power. That’s still well under the S-Class’ sticker price, and if you’re looking for a driver’s car, the 7-Series is still the obvious pick – the S-Class can’t compete when the road gets twisty.

If winding roads and a spirited driving experience are on your shopping list, and you’re willing to give up a little seating capacity, the Porsche Panamera will out-handle the 7-Series while offering opulent cabin accommodations that reviewers say rival that of a private jet. Starting under $75,000, the base Panamera also offers similar power to the 740i with slightly better EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18/27 mpg city/highway. Still, shoppers who like to load their cars with options should beware – the Porsche’s options are expensive, and the Panamera’s price tag can skyrocket quickly.

BMW 7-Series: The Details

The 2011 BMW 7-Series comes with your choice of three engines and two wheelbase lengths. Regular “i” models have a 120.9-inch wheelbase, while 7-Series with a “Li” at the end of their model number are 5.5 inches longer. ­BMW 740 and 750 models are available in either style, while the 760 is a Li-only model. Opting for a stretched 740 or 750 generally costs between $3,900 and $4,400, depending on the drivetrain you choose.

At a little under $71,000, the 740i comes equipped with a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, push button start, leather, four-zone climate control, navigation, Bluetooth and a ten-speaker stereo with 12 gigs of music storage and HD radio. The $82,500 750i comes with all of the features listed above, but also adds interior items that include nicer leather on 20-way adjustable heated front seats, a power trunk lid and soft-closing automatic doors. Under the hood the 750i features a more powerful, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. All-wheel drive is available is available on 750i and Li models for an additional $3,000.

The top-rung 760Li starts at a little over $137,000 and competes in an elite class of super luxury cars like the Mercedes S600. The 760Li comes with a powerful, twin-turbo V12 engine, top- and side-view parking cameras, heated and ventilated seats at all four corners and power rear sunshades.

  • "It's a bit of a shame that the majority of 7-series owners demand the best of the best (short of the $140,000 760Li, of course) and will miss out on the impressive new base six-cylinder 740i, which is perhaps the smartest buy in BMW's current lineup." -- Automobile Magazine  
  • "BMW's flagship car has many useful hi-tech features, and its iDrive system is noteworthy for its ease of use. Competitors Audi A8, Lexus LS, and Mercedes S-Class all offer better isolation from outside disturbances, nicer interior materials, and a more-composed ride. The 7-Series is a worthwhile contender, though it's tough to recommend over the aforementioned rival premium-large cars." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "With its aggressive look and complicated computer system, it’s obvious that this car isn’t for everyone, but those looking for a premium luxury sedan, get ready to be impressed." -- Top Speed 
Review Last Updated: 8/19/11

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