There’s the 2019 BMW 7 Series and there’s the rest of the large luxury sedan class. Nothing else manages to offer this much space, technology, luxury and driving fun. Yes, fun. BMW’s much-imitated but rarely equaled mastery of chassis tuning is an integral part of the 7 Series as much as the leather upholstery. In this instance, a standard-issue air suspension brings both profound comfort and fine-tuned composure.
There are computers, cameras and sensors to make the car safer and more convenient than a 7 Series has ever been before. And this is the most spacious sedan BMW has made, yet it’s around 190 pounds lighter than the previous generation. Much of that is because of the frame’s radical construction. High-strength steel, die-cast aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) are all placed in optimum locations. The relatively thin A-pillars (for modern cars) have tubes of CFRP inside them that run from the top of the hood, over the doors and down to the trunk. An aluminum hood, trunk lid and door panels are then hung on this frame.
What’s New for 2019?
Except for the entry-level version gaining blind spot monitoring and lane-departure warning as standard, the 2019 7 Series comes into this new model year essentially unchanged.
What We Like
Cutting-edge construction; fabulous engines; high-class appointments; remarkable suspension
What We Don’t
Nothing beyond the amount of dollars required to buy one
The 740i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six engine that produces 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving when using the default rear-wheel-drive setup, or 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined with optional all-wheel drive (referred to by BMW as xDrive).
The 750i uses a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 developing 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Again, RWD is the basic setup. Fuel consumption is rated at 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/10 mpg combined, or 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined with the AWD system.
Both versions have active grille shutters contributing to aerodynamic efficiency.
The 740e xDrive iPerformance plug-in hybrid version combines a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack (located under the rear seat) for a system total of 322 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque driving all four wheels. EPA ratings are 64 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) on the combined cycle. Electric-only range is 14 miles. When using just the combustion engine, it’s estimated to achieve 27 mpg combined.
The M760i xDrive has a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 generating a mighty 601 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 13 mpg city/20 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.
The Alpina B7 xDrive makes 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. AWD is standard and fuel consumption is quoted as 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.
An 8-speed automatic is the sole transmission for the range.
Standard Features & Options
Although not badged as such, the 2019 BMW 7 Series is a long-wheelbase version, offering maximum rear passenger space. BMW doesn’t bring the shorter version into the United States.
The 740i ($84,645) comes with a comprehensive list of standard equipment. This includes 18-in alloy wheels, full LED lighting inside and out, adaptive air suspension, quad-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, selectable drive modes, keyless entry/ignition, hands-free trunk operation, a twin-panel panoramic sunroof, a power sunshade for the rear window, soft-closing doors, 10-way power-adjustable/heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, a 12.3-in driver information display, parking sensors front and rear, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Wi-Fi, wireless charging, a 10.2-in display, navigation, gesture control, two USB ports and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with satellite/HD radio.
The 740e xDrive iPerformance ($92,245) adds the plug-in hybrid system and dedicated instruments.
The 750i ($97,945) has 19-in alloys, upgraded leather, a head-up display and 20-way multi-contour front seats. This model can also come with AWD, badged as the 750i xDrive.
An Autobahn options package uses cameras to read the road surface and then prompts the computer-controlled suspension to react accordingly. It also includes variable-ratio steering and rear-wheel steering (known as Integral Active Steering).
The 750i can be ordered with the Rear Executive Lounge package where the reclining passenger-side rear seat is more like first class air travel, complete with retractable footrests and fold-away tables, plus a dual-screen rear entertainment system and a tablet to control various car functions, surf the web or act as a games console (this is held in place by cool little power-retractable clips).
The M760i xDrive ($157,695) comes with the turbo V12, M Sport brakes, M suspension tune, 20-in alloy wheels, massaging front seats, Integral Active Steering and other features of the Autobahn package. It’s not an out-and-out M version as we’ve come to know and love them (like the M3, for example), but still incredibly special.
The enthusiast-leaning Alpina B7 ($140,345) also includes the Autobahn package, Alpina-tuned suspension, special wheel designs and aerodynamic additions, powered side sunshades and massaging front seats.
Other options for the range include heated armrests/rear seats/steering wheel, a head-up display, a cabin fragrance system, multi-contour front seats, a 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system with 16 partially illuminated speakers, side-view and top-view cameras, remote control parking, plus night vision and further advanced protective features listed in the Safety section below.
Trunk space is a capacious 18.2 cu ft. in the regular models, 14.8 cu ft. in the 740e plug-in hybrid.
In addition to all the mandatory safety equipment, the airbag count includes full-length side curtain units as well as a couple for the front occupants’ knees.
Adaptive cruise control becomes available in the Driving Assistance Plus package that also has more "autonomous" technology with an Active Driving Assistant, active lane departure prevention and Traffic Jam Assist, bringing a virtual hand on the steering wheel.
This generation of 7 Series has not yet been crash tested in the U.S.
Behind the Wheel
Despite the long wheelbase, the 7 Series has incredible balance and agility. Plenty of owners will probably be captains of industry and need to sit in the back to work, but those who like to drive will be tempted to spend more time behind the wheel.
Yet for all this poise, there’s not a hint of jarring. Or road noise. This is a true modern luxury sedan that happens to have some serious cornering skills when called upon.
Instead of the usual dials in the instrument cluster, the 7 Series has a configurable 12.3-in display with pin-sharp graphics. Gesture control is a cool feature. To answer a phone call, point to a certain spot. To decline the call, make a swiping action. To turn up the audio, spin a finger clockwise — counter-clockwise turns it down. There’s also the ability to save a gesture for a specific command, like telling the navigation to calculate the route home.
Alpina is an independent tuning house that specializes in BMW vehicles. But they are available from BMW dealers and covered by the same warranties. This B7 version of the 7 Series can sprint from 0-to-60 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds. For a car of this size (even with such advanced construction techniques), that is phenomenal. The M760i xDrive is just a third of a second behind. These are both incredibly fast, incredibly capable machines.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Audi A8 — All-new for 2019, tingling with technology in the service of both safety and luxury.
2018 Porsche Panamera — Gorgeous interior, driving talent for days.
2019 Jaguar XJ — Handsome and supple, with a mostly aluminum body. A new generation is expected soon.
2019 Lexus LS — Comes with lots of features and the usual excellent built quality.
Used Bentley Flying Spur — For that particular mix of space, luxury and driving ability, the options are few. The Flying Spur is one, with a hand-crafted cabin and a 552-hp W12 engine under its imposing hood.
The 750i xDrive would be a good starting point. And allocate some of the budget for a few options. Or abandon all restraint and get the Alpina B7.