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2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

745i 4dr Sdn

Starting at | Starting at 18 MPG City - 26 MPG Highway

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  • $69,300 original MSRP
Printable Version

2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Printable Version

2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

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2004 BMW 7 Series

Source: New Car Test Drive

Base Price (MSRP) - $68,500
As Tested (MSRP) - $74,780

Introduction

Few mainstream automobiles in the past 20 years have captured the world's attention or stirred controversy to the extent that BMW's ambitious 7 Series has. Yes, the 7 Series still sparks debate two years after it was introduced, but we can assure you this: BMW's largest car is a luxury sedan in the truest sense, and it's impressive to drive. Its responsive engine and six-speed automatic transmission, its magic-carpet ride quality, excellent handling and awesomely powerful brakes deliver the ultimate in big-sedan driver control.

Whichever 7 Series you choose, starting with the standard 745i, you'll get a sedan that's big, smooth, fast and inspiring. It's also equipped with the latest safety technology. No matter where you sit, you'll experience a cabin that's beautiful and wonderfully comfortable. The 745Li, for Long, offers even greater legroom in the back seats. If the recently launched, V12-powered 760Li doesn't stir something inside you, you may as well call a cab.

All the 7 Series models are exceptionally powerful and responsive. The level of technology borders on overkill. There are silent, hidden fans and heating elements to cool or warm your rear end, or your soft drink; microchips to instantaneously account for a skidding tire or apply the brakes full force just in case you don't; power-deployed shades to keep the sun off your rear passengers' brows. A single, mouse-like interface, BMW's controversial iDrive, controls virtually everything in the cabin, from the heater to the radio to the navigation system. To be sure, these systems can require serious commitment to master, but most are genuinely useful. The 7 Series has the best-sounding stereo we've experienced in a car. The whisper-quiet cabin is a great place for quiet conversation, ripping electric guitar solos, Mozart concertos, or magnificent solitude.

Known for brilliant high-performance sedans with conservative styling and straightforward interiors, BMW stepped out of the box with this design. The two years since the 7 Series launch have tempered controversy over its stunning styling only a little. Like it or not, the design is based on rational objectives, and we are growing to appreciate it.

BMW filled out the 7 Series line in 2003 with launch of the 438-hp 760Li, but it didn't sit still for 2004. This year, the iDrive has been simplified, er, improved, er, ummm, changed. The already sophisticated climate control has been improved with precise humidity management, and the side mirrors fold in at the touch of a button to squeeze this big sedan into tight parking spots. Adaptive headlights that turn with the car and a Sirius satellite radio receiver are now optional.

This car pushes the limits of driving technology over the horizon. Never mind the density of the owner's manuals (that's plural); owners may get tired of teaching valets how to start the car and put it in gear, to say nothing of the electronic parking brake. Once that's accomplished, however, driving the 7 Series cars is easy and quite satisfying. It will achieve your wishes quickly and efficiently, occasionally bending the laws of physics in the process. BMW says its goal with the 7 Series was building "the safest car in the world,: and we don't find much to quibble with there. Comparably equipped, the 7 Series even costs less than its primary competitor, the Mercedes S-Class.

As big luxury sedans go, the BMW 7 Series is indeed the ultimate driving machine.

 

Model Lineup

Three 7 Series models are available for 2004. The 745i ($68,500) and long-wheelbase 745Li ($72,500) are powered by a 4.4-liter V8 with 325 horsepower, gobs of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission. The 760Li ($115,800) shares its transmission and most of its engine technology with the 745 models, but gets a 438-horsepower V12 engine. It's one of the quickest, fastest, normally aspirated 2.5-ton automobiles in the world.

The 745i rides on a 117.7-inch wheelbase, while the 745Li and 760Li stretch that measurement to 123.5 inches. The long-wheelbase Li models are 5.5 inches longer bumper to bumper, and virtually all of that translates into more rear-seat legroom.

Not surprisingly, all 7 Series sedans come standard with a long list of luxury features, including interiors trimmed in a choice of rich leathers and woods. The 745i has dual-zone automatic climate control with activated-charcoal microfilter ventilation, matte-finish black cherry wood trim, BMW Assist emergency and informational communications, 14-way power seats, a power moonroof, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a climate-controlled front console compartment, and single-CD audio with 10 speakers. The 745Li adds 20-way power front Comfort Seats with articulated upper backrests, passenger-seat memory and active head restraints. Both 745 models come standard with V-speed-rated 245/50VR18 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels; 19-inch wheels with performance tires (245/45 front, 275/40 rear) are optional ($1,300).

The 760Li has most everything BMW offers, including a government-imposed gas-guzzler tax ($1,300). The base price covers a choice of light or dark high-gloss Ash trim with inlays, and leather on virtually all interior surfaces except the dash, headliner and floor. It includes soft-touch door-closing assists, heated and ventilated seats front and rear, Park Distance Control to keep track of those hard-to-see obstacles and power privacy shades. The only options available on the 760Li are radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200), Adaptive Headlights ($300) that aim around corners when you turn the steering wheel, rear climate control with a cool box ($1,800), and satellite radio prep ($75). Why go to a five-star resort if you're driving one of these? Just stay in the car.

Most of what's offered on the 760Li is available on the 745i and 745Li through individual options or packages. The six option packages for the V8s include: the Sport Package ($3,200) adding 19-inch wheels and tires, sport-tuned suspension, more aggressively bolstered sport seating and specific exterior and interior trim; an Adaptive Ride Package ($1900), with a self-leveling rear suspension and Electronic Damping Control that automatically adjusts shock damping according to conditions; a Cold Weather Package ($1100) that adds a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and a ski bag; the Convenience Package ($1000), which includes soft-close doors that suck themselves shut and power trunk-lid operation; a Luxury Seating Package ($2500 for the 745i, $1600, for the 745Li) that adds 20-way adjustment to the 745i, front and rear seat heating, fans to blow air through the seating surfaces and an automatic massager; and finally, the Premium Sound Package ($1800) with increased audio power, two subwoofers, Digital Sound Processing and six-CD changer.

BMW's iDrive interface system is standard on all 7 Series models, and can operate virtually everything in the car, from stereo to climate controls to telephone to navigation, with a single mouse-like control.

Ten airbags are available. The standard array includes two frontal airbags, two front passenger side-impact airbags and BMW's Head Protection System, which amounts to a full-length, tube-shaped curtain on both sides of the cabin for front and rear head protection in a side impact. Also standard is BMW's Active Knee Protection, unique inflatable airbags that protect front passengers' knees. BMW claims these offer several advantages over conventional foam knee padding: they are more effective than foam padding; they reduce the amount of space occupied by the knee protection, leaving more room for in-dash features, not to mention occupants' knees; they allow finer tuning of the safety belts and front airbags for maximum protection depending on the circumstances of an impact.

For better or worse, BMW continues to offer rear side-impact airbags as an option ($385), insisting that customers prefer the choice. The 20-way Comfort Seats (an upgrade on the 745i) include active head restraints, which move closer to the occupants' head in an impact and eliminate the need for heads to be resting against the restraint for maximum effectiveness. All 7 Series variants include sophisticated ABS, traction-control and electronic stability control designed to help drivers avoid accidents in the first place.

 

Walkaround

BMW stepped out of the box and produced a revolutionary blueprint for its 7 Series sedans. Design objectives included styling with more presence and greater curb appeal. Indeed, the current 7 Series look more agile and muscular than the previous-generation models, which were relatively bland. Though the trademark twin-kidney grille and long hood make it clear that this is a BMW, the 2004 7 Series is a dramatic departure from BMWs past in nearly every respect.

The 7's styling has not pleased everyone, however. The overall design, and particularly the rear half, have created controversy among design critics and the automotive media alike. BMW claims its buyers love it. With time in the car and a detailed explanation from BMW as to why it looks like it does, we can tell you that the 7 Series styling is based on rational objectives. We're warming up to it , or maybe we're getting used to it.

Underneath the styling sit several important parameters: This 7 Series is substantially taller than its predecessor (2.2 inches taller), giving its occupants more head room, more rear-seat roominess and a larger trunk. The greatest increase in height is along the outer edges of the roof, increasing head room and improving safety for occupants. The 7 Series is also slightly longer (1.8 inches) and wider (1.6 inches), and its wheelbase is significantly longer (2.3 inches) than before. With these dimensional changes, BMW had to re-work the proportions and redesign the surface details. In other words, the styling had to be changed.

To maintain good proportions, the 7 Series was given a fast greenhouse with a very fast C-pillar (All of the roof pillars are much thicker for enhanced safety in the event of a rollover). Bigger wheels were fitted on all models. While front-wheel-drive Chryslers use a cab-forward design, the rear-wheel-drive BMW 7 Series uses a long hood and a swept rear glass, intended to create a sporty, coupe look.

The rear end has been the focus of the controversy. Much of its design can be traced back to an attempt to handle the substantially raised rear deck height. Because the roof was raised dramatically, the rear deck needed to be raised to help the 7 Series achieve its excellent aerodynamics, which is crucial in reducing wind noise, improving fuel efficiency and increasing the top speed. And because the tail needed to be raised so high, a sculptured appearance was used to maintain the lines of the car.

The back end does not look like previous BMWs, and that's a big reason people have been talking about it. The L-shaped taillights are a departure, extending across the trunk lid: They're intended to draw the eye across the back, making the car look wider. The lights themselves are a technological marvel, employing a feature BMW calls adaptive brake lighting. Under normal braking, the outboard and third brake lights illuminate as usual. Under hard braking or when ABS is activated, the taillights join the brake lights for a significant increase in visibility of the brake lights. The distinction is supposed to signal drivers in vehicles following the 7 Series that the BMW is stopping very quickly. If that isn't impressive enough for you, a monitoring system will indicate that a bulb is burned out. And while you're waiting for an opportunity to have it replaced, the system will commandeer other bulbs in the taillamps to use as brake lights.

In front, the outer edges of the 7 Series headlamp clusters sweep up, instead of down as they've traditionally done on BMWs. (All of the latest BMWs are adapting this styling cue.) Set relatively low, the headlamps are trimmed by turn signals above them, looking like the eyebrows of a hawk. High-intensity discharge headlamps are used for both low and high beams on the outboard lamps; the inboard lamps are conventional halogen high beams. For 2004, the Adaptive Headlight option allows the outboard lights to turn with the car, focusing their beams into a curve, rather than off the edge of the road.

The effort to optimize the details of the 7 Series cars has produced another improvement this year. The exterior mirrors can now be retracted inward with the touch of a button, reducing the 7's parking width more than a foot. It's a great convenience for drivers with narrow garage entrances or when parking in a crowded city garage.

BMW's quest for optimal balance has an impact on the 7 Series design as well. Its hood and front fenders are made of aluminum, allowing near perfect 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear wheels, and contributing to the 7's outstanding handling.

 

2004 BMW 7 Series
2004 BMW 7 Series

Interior Features

High-quality materials and elegant design make the 7 Series cabin an exceedingly pleasant place to conduct the business of driving. Because the iDrive system eliminates so many switches and knobs, the dash looks particularly clean and elegant. Beautiful, buttery leather trim is used throughout, and a variety of materials create interest, without making the interior look busy. Wood trim is spread tastefully on the dash, center console and elsewhere. BMW offers light- or dark-stained Black Cherry with a matte finish, or light or dark high-gloss Ash. I loved the light Black Cherry for its timeless elegance; I did not care for the optional strip of wood on the back dash.

The two front cup holders are handsome, high-tech, and practical. The sun visors do not appear to live up to the quality of the rest of the interior, though. The standard roof liner in the 745i reminds us of fine suit material, something you might encounter on a woman's business jacket, and BMW says many of the interior materials were inspired by the fashion industry. The 760Li's roof is lined with Suede-like alcantara.

Any of the front seats offered are supportive and comfortable. The standard seats in the 745i adjust 14 ways; the upgrade Comfort Seats, standard on the long-wheelbase models and optional on the 745i, adjust in 20 directions. Moreover, some adjustments are automatic, including the headrests, which change height according to the position of the seat. The wide-shoulder seats included in the sport package have bolstering on par with those in a sports car. The V12 760Li includes Active Seat Ventilation (optional on the V8s), which cools the front and rear seats in the summer by blowing air through micro-perforations in the leather, and adds a vibrating feature. Leather trim elsewhere inside is perforated to complement this option.

All 7 Series sedans feature dual-zone temperature and airflow adjustment for the front passengers; the 760Li adds separate temperature adjustments for each side of the rear seat. For 2004, the 7's climate controls have been improved with an automatic humidity control that maintains relative humidity near an optimal 40 percent. A new misting sensor detects misting on the windshield and automatically wipes it off.

Rear seats are roomy and comfortable. The long-wheelbase L models provide as much rear legroom as you'll find this side of a stretch limo. Waterfall LED atmosphere lighting inside the C-pillars adds to the elegance of the rear seats. The 760Li includes power sunshades for the rear and rear side windows, as well as rear Comfort Seats (optional on the 745Li). These include electric heating and 14-way power adjustments, with a control that allows rear seat passengers to move the front passenger seat forward. Having a skilled professional drive you around while you luxuriate in back is not the worst way to travel.

Under power, the 7 Series cabin remains whisper quiet. The only sound we could hear while driving the 745i over San Antonio's busy freeways was the tires whacking over expansion joints or humming across grooved concrete. Ambient noise is wonderfully deadened inside, making conversation easy and pleasant.

The quiet cabin provides a perfect environment for a superb stereo that delivers crisp highs, sharp bass, and clear mid-range tones. BMW's optional Premium Sound Package ($1800), developed by Harman Kardon's Lexicon, is truly sensational. Unless you have a state-of-the-art stereo at home, you'll hear things in your favorite songs you've barely noticed before. The premium package delivers seven channels of surround sound through 13 speakers, including a pair of subwoofers ingeniously integrated into the chassis itself, and includes a CD changer. The optional Sirius receiver, new for 2004, opens the 7 Series to the joy of satellite radio. The subscription fee includes 60 commercial-free channels of music and 40 of news, sports and talk. It's great for tuning into FoxNews or CNN or a myriad of sports channels and you need never switch from your favorite music channel when driving across the country.

The 7 Series provides more interior storage space than some of its competitors, but storage isn't one of its strengths. The center console lid is split down the middle to create a pair of leather-covered access doors. Our console was filled with CD storage, a cellular telephone and the owner's manual, and we decided that it would be preferable to eliminate the CD storage and put the owner's manual someplace else. Likewise, much of the space in the elegantly designed glove box was taken by the CD changer. We'd prefer putting the CD changer in the trunk, or eliminating it altogether in favor of the single in-dash CD, to gain easily accessible storage.

BMW's voice-activation system works reasonably well for people willing to take the time to learn how to program and use it. We'd likely use it for a few key features, like calling home, checking voice mail, or switching among two or three favorite radio stations. It'll do much more for those willing to invest some time in it, however. To use it, press the SVS button and give it a command. A command to remember is "Options," because that will prompt the system to call out a list of recognized commands you can use. "Radio on" turns the radio on. Saying "106.7" switches the station to FM 106.7. You can also tell it to play CD track number five. You can really impress friends (and kids) if you set up only a couple of functions.

Technology is everywhere inside the 7 Series, and this embrace of technology separates it from other cars. We thought the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was loaded with stuff until we tried this one. Working the systems inside the 7 comes closer to operating a computer than any mainstream production car we've seen. There's a downside to all this technology, to be sure. It requires familiarization (and effort) to begin to master it, and many will find the learning curve steep. Even simple, intuitive operations that we learned the first time we drove a car no longer apply in the 7 Series. You'll have to relearn old techniques just to start this sedan, release its parking brake and back it out of the driveway.

To start the car you insert the key, except that it's an electronic device rather then a traditional key. Then you press the start button next to the key slot. Press another button to release the electronically controlled parking brake. To shift into reverse, pull a small lever on the dash toward you. Snick the lever down into drive to go forward. The "shifter'' feels more like a switch or an electronic stalk than a mechanical shifter because it is, indeed, an electronic switch. There is no mechanical link between the selector and the transmission. It's controlled "by wire," and takes some practice to use as quickly as a traditional gear selector. This immediately became clear while trying to make a quick Y-turn on a street in downtown San Antonio, a move that was not performed as quickly and elegantly as we had intended. However, once mastered, the 7 Series shifter may end up being quicker and less troublesome than a traditional automatic shifter, most of which require that the driver look down to ensure the proper gear is selected, troublesome when in a hurry.

BMW's iDrive system takes automotive operation closer to computer interface than we've come before. iDrive relies on a big, round aluminum knob on the center console to operate most everything in the cabin, including climate controls, automotive functions, entertainment, communications and navigation. Capt. Kirk never had it so good.

The iDrive knob turns like a volume knob, presses down like a switch, and slides in eight directions (left and right, forward and back, and diagonally). Corresponding menus are presented on the video screen. From the main or start menu, sliding the big knob toward each of the eight compass points selects a different sub-menu, or the primary menu for a system. Slide the knob due east (toward the passenger seat), for example, and you'll leave the main menu for the stereo menu. Now rotate the knob to move around the stereo menu, and then press down as with a mouse when the cursor lands on the appropriate function (e.g. Preset Stations). As with a menu system on a computer, you may immediately reach the function you're after, or you may get another sub-menu with more selections to spin through.

BMW says it has improved iDrive for 2004 based on what it's learned through two years of production and customers' ownership experience. The improvements include two new buttons just behind the main iDrive control: one that automatically returns the display screen to the main menu, and another that can be programmed with whatever sub-menu the user prefers. The first button should help reduce frustration levels. The second button should add convenience so that the user can quickly get to the most often-used function (audio or climate, for example).

The iDrive knob is easy for the right hand to locate without a glance; the display screen is big, and can be viewed without completely removing your eyes from the road ahead. Yet, improved or otherwise, iDrive takes a fair amount of practice just to get a rudimentary grip on its operation, and you'll need to do some reading to fully exploit it. In the meantime, it's likely to raise frustration levels. During our first 350-mile test drive, for example, I never learned how to pull up a map, in spite of considerable effort exercised while sitting in the passenger seat. That said, we expect that most people will eventually master iDrive to the point where they use it as intuitively as they now push a station button, or use a computer mouse. But learning isn't the only problem. Even when you've mastered iDrive, you'll have to wade through various menus and sub-menus to finally get to the function that needs adjustment. That function may be one that simply requires you to flick a switch on a conventional dashboard. Whether that's progress is debatable.

A split screen on the display can show all kinds of information depending on the mode selected by iDrive, and the display can be customized according to owner preferences. But it's not ideal. I found the temperature readout nearly impossible to read while wearing brown-tinted polarized sunglasses.

The same issues apply throughout the 7 Series, because many controls simply don't function in the traditional fashion. I struggled to operate the turn signals, wipers and windshield washers smoothly, a struggle that may disappear with familiarity. In some cases the car anticipates what it thinks the driver will do. Often after a quick signal for a lane change, I'd unintentionally signal a move in the opposite while trying to cancel the original signal. Once again, a driver familiar with the signal lever won't likely have trouble.

Park Distance Control, a feature superbly executed in BMW's X5, has been taken to a new level in the 7 Series with a graphic display. Sonar sensors in the front and rear bumpers detect objects near the car and beep with increasing frequency as you get closer. A solid tone means you're almost touching. Different tones for the front and rear greatly assist the driver when parking in tight locations, and they can keep the car from accidentally backing into or over something that cannot be seen from inside the car, like a child on tricycle. The 7 Series takes park-assist a step further with a pictograph of the car that graphically displays the distance and location of the offending object. It sounds like a gadget, but park-assist adds convenience in daily driving and can help prevent an annoying or even tragic accident.

 

2004 BMW 7 Series

Driving Impressions

In terms of driving dynamics, there's no controversy. BMW's 7 Series has been widely lauded for its outstanding performance and ride. It's hard to rave about a vehicle that drives so well. There are only so many ways you can say "great," and the 7 Series does everything extremely well.

The first thing we noticed about the BMW 745i was its wonderful, magic-carpet ride. This car smoothes out bumps, even speed bumps, to a point of astonishment. It's incredibly comfortable, yet the driver does not feel completely isolated from the road. The 745i senses when it's being driven hard, retuning the suspension appropriately for improved handling.

BMW's Active Roll Stabilization, a system of computer-controlled active anti-roll bars, increases roll resistance in hard cornering to keep the body flat in turns. At the same time, the system maintains enough suspension compliance to keep the tires planted on the road. Bumps in the middle of a high-speed corner do not upset the handling balance one whit. Several factors are at work here: a near-perfect weight distribution of 50 percent front and rear, which means neither end of the car is more prone to slide than the other; a highly rigid chassis that allows precise suspension tuning; and minimal unsprung weight, thanks to lightweight aluminum wheels, brake calipers and aluminum suspension components.

Remember: weighing up to 4900 pounds, depending on equipment, the 7 Series is not a small car. But in some respects it feels smaller than it is. Anti-skid technology makes adjustments to maintain handling balance whenever grip is lost to any one tire. By applying braking force to individual wheels, it almost seems to bend the laws of physics. Just steer this thing where you want to go and the 7 Series takes you there. I explored this on a fast, greasy corner over a crest that un-weighted the suspension. All four wheels lost grip, but we simply motored around the corner, drifting just slightly wide of the intended line. I never lifted my foot off the accelerator pedal nor made any adjustments in the steering. No special action on my part was needed; the 745i did all of that for me. The anti-skid system is transparent, in that you can't feel it kick in and out. BMW's system is far less obtrusive and more performance-oriented than similar systems found in Mercedes-Benz and Lexus automobiles. That means that it probably leaves the driver a bit more room for errors.

Steering the 745i is a joy. The rack-and-pinion steering is super sharp and precise. It's very light at low speeds for parking lots, but firms up at higher speeds for improved driver feel. It also steps up response by 10 percent as the wheel is turned off center, which means that the more you turn the wheel, the faster the car responds. With this steering system, it's easy to drive the 7 Series with extreme precision on winding roads at very high speeds, placing the tires exactly where you want them. When hitting bumps, there's little or no kickback to the steering.

Either of the 7 Series drivetrains is absolutely silky when cruising around. The new six-speed automatic transmission is extremely smooth, yet it's the most responsive I have ever experienced. Those are usually mutually exclusive benefits. Hit the accelerator pedal and the transmission drops a gear or two without any of that hesitation found in so many automatics. This six-speed automatic is smaller and lighter than the previous five-speed automatic. The additional gearing gives it quicker performance off the line with a lower first gear, better response in the mid range with ratios that are closer together, and improved fuel economy with taller top gears. The 745i does offer a feature allowing the driver to downshift manually using a pair of buttons on the steering wheel, but I found that feature to be superfluous. With a transmission as responsive as this one, manual shifting seems more of a toy than anything else.

The 4.4-liter V8 engine is superb. It's very smooth when cruising. Combine the smooth drive train with the smooth ride and the 745i feels deceptively slow. While rolling out of a jerkwater town in the Hill Country outside of San Antonio, I was preparing to put the accelerator pedal down to gain speed, until a glance at the speedo revealed that I was already cruising at 80 mph. This car feels happy cruising at 80 to 100 mph all day. I found myself coming into high-speed sweeping corners and low-speed tight corners carrying more speed than I initially realized, then having to get on the brakes a little harder than originally planned. It wasn't a scary thing, because the 7 Series almost never loses its composure. Just kind of a whoa, Nellie, slow this baby down. This combination of outstanding dynamics and deceptive travel speeds says something about both the joy and the trepidation in a car as capable as the 7 Series. You need to watch your speed in this car.

Punch the accelerator pedal (technically, it doesn't use a throttle) and the 745i leaps into action. BMW claims it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds. The V8 is rated at 325 horsepower and 330 pounds-feet of torque, a huge increase over the previous BMW V8 and similar in output to the previous BMW V12. Yet the 745i is rated by the EPA at 18/26 mpg City/Highway, a 13-percent improvement over the previous BMW V8. Its sophisticated Valvetronic system has eliminated the throttle completely, eliminating pumping losses for improved efficiency by letting the valves, which benefit from BMW's double VANOS variable timing, control the airflow through the engine.

If that's not impressive enough for you, try the V12. The 760Li was launched in 2003 with a 6.0-liter V12 engine that shares its basic architecture and most of its technology with the V8. Yet the V12 adds an innovation of its own. With direct fuel injection (something previously reserved largely for diesel engines), BMW's V12 delivers fuel directly into the cylinders, rather than to intake ports on the cylinder head. This improves power and reduces emissions. So equipped, the 760Li generates 438 horsepower and an impressive 444 pounds-feet of torque. The V12 is turbine smooth, and whisks the sumptuously luxurious 760Li to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, or as quickly as some Porsche 911s.

Modulating the brakes is easy, and the 7 Series can stop in a big hurry when necessary. Massive ventilated disc brakes, among the largest and most powerful BMW has ever used, are fitted with aluminum calipers at all four corners. Electronic brake proportioning ensures that the meaty tires are making best use of all available braking traction by transferring braking force to the tires with the best grip. Dynamic Brake Control reinforces the driver's pedal effort in emergency braking to help the car stop in the shortest possible stopping distance, even if the driver mistakenly relaxes pressure on the brake pedal. The Hill Hold feature will automatically hold the car at a stop until the driver presses on the accelerator pedal, and set the parking brake when the car is turned off. Hill Hold can be switched on or off using the iDrive menus.

 

2004 BMW 7 Series

Summary

The 7 Series is so smooth that full days behind the wheel are not taxing. After spending 350 high-speed miles in a BMW 745i, we were ready for 350 more. Heck, we were ready to take it home. It's very comfortable in heavy traffic. Few luxury sedans can keep up with the 7 Series at high speeds, and it's easy to drive this car well. And the interior is sumptuous.

None of the 7 Series models offer all-wheel drive, which is available on both of its most direct competitors: the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8. Yet this BMW is soaked with cutting-edge automotive technology, and with it all there's a steep learning curve. Owners should prepare themselves for serious reading time with the owner's manuals. You'll need to explain even the most basic operations (like starting) to anyone else who drives their car. The 7 Series may be ahead of its time, or it may simply be beyond the effort many buyers are willing to invest.

Of course, there's always help from the dealership. Have the BMW store set all the gizmos, sit down and drive, and the annoyances will be reduced. If you embrace its styling, any of the three 7 Series models will do. Dynamically, this may be the best car in the class. And that's no small feat, given that the competition includes some of the best cars in the world.


Model Line Overview

Base Price (MSRP) $68,500
As Tested (MSRP) $74,780

Model lineup: 745i ($68,500); 745Li ($72,500); 760Li ($115,800)
Engines: 4.4-liter dohc 32-valve V8
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic
Safety equipment (Standard): dual frontal airbags, dual front knee airbags, dual front side-impact airbags, Head Protection System full cabin curtain-style airbags, front safety belts with automatic height adjustment, tensioning and force limiters, automatic-locking retractors for all safety belts for child-restraint seats, anti-lock brake system, Dynamic Brake Control, electronic brake proportioning, traction control, Dynamic Stability Control
Safety equipment (Optional): rear side-impact airbags, active head restraints
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: Germany

Specifications As Tested

Printable Version

2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Active Suspension System Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Std
Rear Body Side Air Bag Opt
Rear Head side Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Rain Sensing Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Std
Printable Version

2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion 6 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance 4 Years/50,000 Miles

BMW Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Every Certified Pre-Owned BMW comes with a protection plan designed to give you the ultimate peace-of-mind.

All Certified Pre-Owned BMW vehicles are exceptional, as are our two tiers of certification:
BMW Certified Pre-Owned
Covers you for 2 years/50,000 miles1 after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty for a total of 6 years/100,000 miles1. This includes 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService.
BMW Certified Pre-Owned Elite
These are newer model year, lower mileage (more than 300 miles but less than 15,001 miles) vehicles. This warranty covers you for 1 year/25,000 miles1 after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty or for a total of 5 years/75,000 miles1. This includes 5 years of 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService.

Vehicles must pass a rigorous pre-certification inspection conducted by BMW certified technicians.

For complete program details, visit cpo.bmwusa.com.

1whichever comes first
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 60,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection View & Download the BMW Certified Pre-Owned Inspection Checklist
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2004 BMW 7 Series Sedan

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