Yes, $120,000-plus for an automobile might seem extravagant for many of us.
But consider this: An F-150 can cost upwards of $60,000. In 2001, the top BMW 7-Series trim was $92,000 and a four-wheel drive F-150 XLT Lariat was $37,000. The price of the 7 Series has increased 24% since 2001. The F-150 has gone up more than 50%. If you consider that, then the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive may be something of a bargain.
Prices, Trims, and Safety Equipment
The 2016 BMW 750i is an expensive car, no question. The diesel-powered 740i version starts at $81,300, but if you’re a one-percenter who spends as much time concerned about the price of a gallon of gasoline as you do about climate change, you’ll want the gasoline-powered 750i, which starts at $94,400. There’s also an xDrive trim that adds all-wheel drive, bumping the price up by three grand to $97,400.
You’ve blown that much on blinis and caviar at Gary Danko’s, so it’s hardly a consideration. Get the all-wheel drive.
Given that the BMW 750i is as expensive as it is to start, the availability of advanced safety equipment is a bit hard to understand. You’ve dropped $97,400 on one of the world’s finest luxury cars, but if you want equipment like Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation (self-braking technology in BMW-speak) and Blind Spot Detection, you’ll pay another $1,900 for the Driver Assistance Plus package.
Despite the additional charge, the BMW 750i doesn’t earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
Trim and Options
Our tested car was the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive, starting at $97,400. From there, BMW threw the entire order book at it, including Driver Assistance Plus ($1,900), the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package ($5,750, which also mandates the Executive Package ($3,200), and the Luxury Seating Package ($3,900)), the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System ($3,400), and a handful of other options.
All BMW 750i trims feature the battle-tested, N63TU 4.4-liter V-8 from the X6 xDrive, the 550i GT xDrive, and the x5 xDrive50i. In those smaller cars, the 445hp twin-turbo V-8 provides physics-bending acceleration that allows a midsize SUV like the X5 to rocket to 60 miles per hour in times that used to be the domain of Ferraris from the early 2000s.
In the larger, longer 750i, the 4.4-liter feels perfectly at ease, shuttling the full-size luxury car to highway speeds with almost electric-motor thrust. Almost. The burble of the dual exhaust lets you know there are pistons chugging up and down.
The transmission is a ZF 8HP90, with eight forward gears. It’s essentially the transmission of choice for every BMW model that isn’t powered by an electric motor. Variations on the base XF 8HP transmission also appear in the Audi A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8, the Bentley Continental V8 GT, all of Jaguar’s current products, three Land Rovers and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. You’d have to go back to the GM Turbo-Hydramatic 350 to find a transmission that was so widely used in rear-drive products.
The ZF 8HP90 is unique because it’s been strengthened to an outlandish degree. It’s suitable for use with gasoline engines that produce a maximum of 900-ft.lbs. of torque. That’s why you’ll find this German automatic gearbox behind the 707hp supercharged V-8 in automatic-equipped Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats. It’s a beast. Bolt it to a 445hp V-8 and it barely knows it’s clicking through the gears.
BMW notes that the drivetrain is also predictive: It’s linked to the GPS, and depending on the route, switches from the more athletic, responsive setting to a more comfortable setting when road conditions warrant it.
There are two drive modes worth talking about in the 750i, and they represent the range of driving dynamics the car can provide. COMFORT mode is the default setting, and as its name implies, provides a driving experience that gets the car to the highest gear possible in the shortest amount of time to keep engine speed as unobtrusive as possible. COMFORT mode also softens the suspension to provide a cloud-smooth ride.
SPORT mode changes all that and turns the 750i xDrive into something that feels a lot closer to a 5 Series. It’s not razor sharp or spine-crushing, but it’s fun to hustle this behemoth through the turns like it’s a much smaller car.
Both modes are complement each other. SPORT is never too sporty, COMFORT is never too squishy.
VIDEO: See the BMW 750i xDrive in action
The EPA estimates that the BMW 750i can deliver as much a 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. Opting for xDrive drops that fuel economy one digit in each of the EPA’s driving conditions to 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, for a combined fuel economy of 19 mpg.
That may not sound all that great, but it’s better than the Rolls-Royce Phantom’s dismal 14 mpg combined estimate.
Seating is where the BMW 750i either goes from competent, well-equipped sports sedan to full-on chauffeured luxury.
If you were able to sit up front without turning your gaze to the yawning expanse of the back seat, you’d be convinced you were sitting in nothing more than a fully equipped BMW 5 Series. It’s sporty, and in typical BMW fashion, not overly fussy with the details. A car like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, for example, lets you know you’re in a top-line luxury car every second. The 7 Series is a lot fancier than it used to be, but it’s still a very businesslike cabin despite the quilted Nappa Leather seats.
The rear is where option packages make the difference. There are three packages that have a major impact on the car’s mission, and all directly change the configuration of the rear seating area. The first is the $3,200 Executive Package. It adds ventilation and massage functions to the front seats only, but it adds two power side window shades at the rear, as well as pronounced ambient light bars that take up the entire B-pillars, throwing a well-lit airline cabin’s worth of light on the rear seat passengers, without interfering with the driver’s vision.
The second is the $3,900 Luxury Seating Package, which provides the same ventilated and massaging seats as the those up front in the Executive Package. The fold-down armrest includes a 7-inch Touch Command Tablet that controls rear climate, ambient lighting, seat functions and audio features. The package also includes heated armrests for all passengers, and a heated steering wheel.
Our tested car featured the $5,750 Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package. It changes the rear seat capacity from five passengers to just four, because the console between the rear seats is fixed. The two rear chairs recline and provide footrests for weary traveling executives. The package also contains all of the items in both the Executive and Luxury Seating packages.
Our car also featured the $350 “Ambient Air Package” that “fills the interior of the car with a subtle, pleasant fragrance.” If you happen to be driving through an area that smells — such as some place with a median income less than $750,000 per annum, you can deploy up to two of eight fragrances in up to three levels: “Mildly Concerned,” “A Little Freaked Out” or “Trenton.”
Part of our video review deals with the comparison between this car and the Range Rover Td6 we reviewed a few weeks back. That luxury SUV can be equipped with the same kinds of rear seat luxury features as the 750i can, but also offers a cavernous cargo area. The BMW 7 Series cargo area is still plenty big for business trips, golf outings and the like, with 18.2-cubic feet of volume. You’ll lose the rear seat pass-through for longer items if you choose the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package.
At the base level, the BMW 750i has an impressive array of infotainment equipment, featuring a Harman Kardon Surround Sound Audio System equipped with an equalizer and a powerful 600-watt amplifier. The standard audio system has the 16 speakers with 7 tweeters, 7 midrange speakers and 2 bass speakers. The head unit has AM and FM bands, plus XMSirius and — surprise — a CD player for well-heeled Gen Xers unwilling to convert their hard copy music collection to something owned by Apple.
Enhanced USB and Bluetooth functionality includes Mobile Office features, providing in-vehicle access to a dedicated BMW Online e-mail account, plus an address book, which can be transferred from a PC to the car for use in the navigation system and car phone.
At the standard level the 750i comes with two charging USB outlets and a WiFi hotspot.
Our tested car ups the ante with the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, adding Diamond Dome tweeters, 1,400 watts of power, 10 fully active amplification channels and QuantumLogic Surround/Dynamic Sound Equalizing with three analog crossover networks. That’s a long-winded list that suggests that no matter which seat you happen to be occupying, you’ll experience consistent sound quality.
New for 2016, BMW introduced Hand Gesture controls on many of the functions in the center display. The theory is that you wave your hand to and fro, or around in circles, and things magically happen on the screen in front of the gesture you’re performing. We got it to work satisfactorily a few times, but the concentration required to make it happen made simply moving your hand forward 2.5 inches and manually turning up the volume more reliable.
That 7-inch Touch Command Tablet that comes as part of the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package controls a wide array of functions within the car, and also works as any Samsung tablet would, providing access to all your favorite viewing apps. Two rear seat screens act as monitors for whatever is functioning through the tablet.
When you’re used to unraveling the cluttered mess that is the compact crossover utility vehicle market today, a segment like “oligarch-level luxury car” is blissfully simple. There are only about five cars in it, six if you include the Range Rover.
Choosing your flavor of luxury depends on a handful of personality types: Are you a tech nerd obsessed with Tony Stark from Iron Man? The Audi A8L might be your car. Do you read the Financial Times obsessively and wear your dad’s bespoke Saville Row suits? The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is probably better equipped to meet your needs. Are you a professional basketball player? The Rolls-Royce Ghost.
The BMW 7 Series says a lot by not saying much at all. If it wasn’t for the unnecessary hockey stick chrome accent running down the side, the BMW 7 Series would subtly blend into traffic without anyone knowing that it was much more than a run-of-the-mill 5 Series. It keeps a low profile, but at the same time, it’s got the goods to outrun executive kidnapping attempts, too, which is a serious consideration in this class of car, in some parts of the world.
If blending in is as important as standing out, the BMW 750i has a lot going for it.
2016 BMW 750i xDrive
Base MSRP: $97,500
Price as Tested: $120,645
Driver Assistance Plus ($1,900), the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package ($5,750, requires Executive Package ($3,200), Luxury Seating Package ($3,900)), Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System ($3,400)
Pavement rolling acceleration
Amazing agility for such a large car
Supremely equipped interior
Unnecessary aluminum accents on the exterior
Room and board cost for the chauffeur
Constant Ronin-style car chases