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Original MSRP: $71,000 - $137,300
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2012 BMW 7-Series Review

This review was written when the 2012 BMW 7-Series was new.

Auto reviewers love the 2012 BMW 7-Series for its comfortable interior and nimble handling, but say the 7-Series’ cabin isn’t quite as luxurious as other super luxury cars.

For 2012, the BMW 7-Series continues to balance comfort with an engaging driving experience. Three engine choices are available in the 7-Series, including a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine in 740i and 740Li models. While standard V8 powerplants are common among super luxury cars, test drivers say there’s no need to avoid six-cylinder 7-Series if you’re concerned about power. Edmunds says it's just as quick from zero to 60 mph as a Lexus LS.

Still, if you’re shopping for a sedan with ample power, BMW offers turbocharged V8 and V12 engines that make the 7-Series accelerate just as well as it handles. Most test drivers also approve of BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control, which allows ride control and steering adjustments that range from “Comfort” to “Sport”. Still, buyers looking for a car with a posh, serene ride should be aware that the 7-Series is more of a driver’s car than some of its competitors.

While most agree that the 2012 BMW 7-Series’ exciting driving dynamics make it fun to drive, one reviewer says that the current 7-Series no longer strikes the balance between comfort and sport that he has come to expect. If you’re looking for a super luxury car that coddles you with an ultra-smooth ride, competitors like the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class might be more appealing. Additionally, savvy shoppers may notice that little has changed for the 2012 model year. If you like the 7-Series, but want a lower price, don’t overlook a certified pre-owned or used BMW 7-Series.

The 7-Series’ interior is loved by auto writers love for its quality materials and a decent suite of standard tech features. The cabin, albeit luxurious, is still not as opulent as some of rivals. Features like heated and cooled seats and satellite radio are often standard equipment at this price point, but you’ll need to add option packages to get them on the 740i. Still, the 7-Series impresses critics with its iDrive system, which is much more user-friendly than earlier versions. The BMW 7-Series is also roomy. Ample passenger space is available front and rear, and choosing an extended-wheelbase Li model increases the 7-series’ back seat comfort, which is good even on standard wheelbase models.

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Other Cars to Consider

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class can’t compete with the 7-Series in terms of price. At $93,000, the base S550 costs $22,000 more than the base 740i, but Mercedes’ flagship is not without its pluses. Among these are more standard interior tech features, a more luxuriously appointed cabin and a posh, balanced ride. Additionally, the base 7-Series can’t compete with the S550 in terms of power. You’d have to opt for the $82,500 BMW 750i to match the S-Class’ muscle. However, you’ll still save money if you choose the 750i, and reviewers say that if you’re looking for a driver’s car the 7-Series is a better pick.

If you’re willing to give up a little seating capacity, and you’re drawn to the 7-Series’ spirited driving experience, the Porsche Panamera is worth a test drive. The Panamera out-handles the 7-Series, and its opulent cabin wows reviewers who sometimes think that the 7-Series falls short. Starting at roughly $75,000, the base Panamera also offers similar power to the 740i. However, if you like your car fully-loaded, be aware that the Porsche’s options are expensive. The Panamera’s price tag can skyrocket quickly.

BMW 7-Series: The Details

Three engines and two wheelbase lengths are available on the 2012 BMW 7-Series. Regular 7-Series models have a 120.9-inch wheelbase, while Li models are 5.5 inches longer. ­BMW 740i and 750i models are available in either style, while the 760 is a Li-only model. Choosing a stretched 740Li or 750Li generally costs between $3,900 and $4,500 more, depending on the drivetrain you choose.

At $71,000, the 740i comes equipped with a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, push-button start, leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, navigation, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker stereo with 12 gigabytes of music storage, iPod adapter and HD radio. The 750i starts at $84,300, and comes with all of the features listed above, as well as interior items such as upgraded leather on 20-way adjustable heated front seats, a power trunk lid and soft-closing automatic doors. A more powerful 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 is also under the 750i’s hood. All-wheel drive is available on 750i and Li models for an additional $3,000.

The top-rung 760Li starts at roughly $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.

  • "The value of any car commanding $100,000-plus can be hard to justify for most. But for the shopper who is looking for prestige and comfort - and who can afford to pay for it - this big BMW is worth considering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's pretty much no losing when your options include exotic names and alphanumeric soup like A8, Panamera and S-Class. Add to this list the 2012 BMW 7 Series, one of the sportiest and most popular luxury cruisers that blends a dynamic driving experience with practical, everyday utility." -- Edmunds
  • "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  
Review Last Updated: 10/9/13

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