The Truth About Cars » 7 Series The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 7 Series Chicago 2014: 2014 BMW 740Ld Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:51:28 +0000 2014-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-02

BMW has debuted a diesel-equipped version of its flagship 7-series sedan in the US. Jack will not be driving one.

The 2014 BMW 740Ld xDrive features a direct-injected, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel expected to return a 25 to 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency. With its 8-speed automatic transmission, 255 horsepower and a blonde hair over 400 lb-ft of torque. The interior features are typical of BMW, featuring all the latest in optional Bavarian gizmos.

We’re told the base MSRP for this big body Beemer will be $83,425. Expect to see them in showrooms this spring.

2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-01 2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-05 2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-02 2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-09 2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-13 2015-BMW-740Ld-xDrive-11 ]]> 9
Review: 2014 Lexus LS 600hL (With Video) Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:00:30 +0000 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The LS 600hL is the pinnacle of Toyota and Lexus engineering. It is the largest Lexus sedan, the brand’s most expensive model, the most expensive hybrid in the world and, with the death of BMW’s V8 ActiveHybrid system, it is once again the most powerful hybrid on sale. Yet the LS 600hL hasn’t had an easy time of things. The large luxury sedan has been lambasted for being the antithesis of green thanks to its EPA combined 20 MPG score. Critics also question whether the 600hL’s enormous premium over the LS 460L can ever be “justified.” I too questioned the logic behind the 600hL at first, but then I spoke with someone who changed my mind. Before we dive in, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The 600hL starts at $119,910. With all the options checked, you land at $134,875. Without destination. Put your eye balls back in their sockets and click past the jump as we dive into an alternate universe.

Click here to view the embedded video.


I don’t live in a world filled with chauffeurs, champagne and caviar. Heck, I don’t even live in a world with indoor plumbing. (Seriously, my house doesn’t have an indoor shower, but that’s a story for a different time.) This meant I needed help in order to view the 600hL through the right lens. Fortunately I have a family connection with a guy in Atherton who is exactly the kind of guy I was looking for: one with deep pockets. Being the private jet/vacation mansion owning guy I was looking for, I expected him to be put off by the LS 600hL’s simple lines and unmistakably “discount” $71,990 LS 460 roots. Instead he had an opinion I hadn’t considered.

In a town where the money is piled high and deep, but paradoxically being flashy is considered tasteless, the LS 600hL strikes the right balance. Or so I am told. By looking like a lesser LS, it doesn’t scream “I spent twice your salary on my car,” but at the same time your neighbors will know your trust fund is still returning 15% a year. While he agreed that a similarly expensive 2014 S-Class was far more attractive and exciting, he felt it was too “nouveau riche.” From the mouth of babes…

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesInterior
$119,910 doesn’t buy you a leather-clad dashboard standard, if you want that you have to add a few options to your spendy hybrid. No matter what package you add, the age of the LS platform shows in the front seats. Sharing the same mechanisms with the pre-refresh 2012 LS, the seat fails to contort in the same variety of directions as the Germans, or even the cheaper Lexus GS which has more modern seat frames. Still, 600hL buyers are likely to only experience the front seats when Jeevs has a day off.

Because 2013 is more of an extensive refresh than a clean-sheet design, the LS 600hL doesn’t get a fancy LCD instrument cluster, opting instead for a four-dial arrangement with a “wine glass” shaped multi-function display in the center. A full-disco-dash arrangement isn’t a requirement for me as there are plenty of traditional gauges in this segment but I had hoped for more from a luxury car designed in a country obsessed with electronic gadgets. The same thing can be said for the large 12-inch display in the middle of the dash. The display is bright and crisp but the software hasn’t been significantly re-worked for some time making it feel dated.

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-009

Gadgets & Infotainment

No 600hL would be complete without the $7,555 Executive Package. For the cost of a used compact car Lexus adds an Alcantara headliner, deletes the middle rear seat for a fixed console, covers the dash in leather, wires up a 120V inverter, and installs the best rear seat available in America.

That seat is the 600hL’s raison d’être. It is also so mind-blowingly insane, I have decided it will hence forth be known as the “Lexus throne”. The 600hL’s throne contorts in 10 ways via controls in the substantial center console and boasts manual butterfly headrests. If that isn’t enough it will also vibrate and massage your royal personage while you put your feet up on the power ottoman. The massaging function isn’t like the systems employed by the German competition in the front seat. Those systems use a series of air bladders that inflate/deflate in a pattern to initiate a massage. The result feels more like a rodent trapped between the foam and the upholstery. The Lexus system uses a system more similar to the pneumatic rollers you find in airport “massage station chairs.” Only classier. And without the stench of the peasantry.

Activating the massage is easy once you get the hang of the 17-button remote control nestled next to the 26-button infotainment remote inside the 45-button console. If you rank your rides by button count, we have a winner. Lexus tosses in a blue-ray DVD player, wireless headphones and a single LCD that drops down from the ceiling. Although the Lexus Remote Touch joystick lives on up front, those being coddled in the rear can forget about the clunky controller and can control many of the car’s functions via the button bank. On the one hand this is less integrated than BMW’s iDrive for rear passengers that allow them top play with the nav system, but it does shield the owner of the LS 600hL from dealing with the evil that is Remote Touch.

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


The wealthy are frequently in a hurry and have the resources to pay Texas-sized speeding tickets. Unfortunately for them, Lexus hasn’t updated the 600hL’s hybrid system for the new model. While I still think of the 600hL’s setup as one of the most advanced hybrid systems in the world, I just can’t call it “powerful” anymore. Rated at 438 system horsepower, it is outclassed by a wide variety of V8s in everything from a Dodge Super Bee to the German’s base V8 options. That’s even before we talk about the V12 luxury barges Lexus is attempting to target. The “old” S65 AMG cranked out 631 horses and enough torque to cause the earth to rotate in the other direction. What will 2014 bring? You can bet the answer will be: more.

Operating much like a Prius hybrid system on steroids, a 385 horsepower 5.0L V8 engine is mated directly to a planetary gearset employing two motor/generator units. The larger motor is capable of 221HP on its own, but the battery pack in the trunk of the LS can only supply 53 HP at a time limiting the EV mode to around 30 MPH. The engine and motors work together to provide seamless and linear acceleration unlike anything on the market save a Tesla Model S. This design is quite different from the pancake motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission that you find in the German hybrids. Lexus won’t comment on how much torque the combined unit is good for, but my gut tells me it is around 450 lb0-ft combined.

Lexus continues to use a 288V Ni-MH battery pack that is similar to the one used in the Lexus RX hybrid. The 1.6kWh battery pack isn’t as space efficient as the more modern Lithium based batteries but had a proven track record and allows high current discharges with a smaller number of cells. Unfortunately it’s not as slim as the trendier cells and occupies a large portion of the trunk. Combined with the plumbing for the four zone climate control and the massaging throne, they slice trunk capacity from 18 cubes to 13 making it difficult to fit large luggage in the rear.

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


With 5,500 pounds of luxury sedan riding (yes, you read that number correctly) on an air suspension, you can cross corner carving off your list. I suspect that such activities are frowned upon when the help is driving you anyway, but the weight and relatively narrow 245/45R19 tires mean stopping distances are long as well. Dynamically the LS has always been an excellent vehicle with a well controlled chassis, nearly perfect weight balance and a solid feel. When scaled up to the 600hL, you can tell those traits are still there but they are masked by the weight and the standard adaptive air suspension.

If I might digress for a moment, the LS platform is the perfect vehicle to experience an air suspension in on a test drive. There aren’t many cars that have a standard steel-coil suspension and an air suspension available in the same car and the LS is one. Air suspensions have an entirely different feel to them so when you compare an S-Class with Airmatic with a 7-Series that had only a partial rear air suspension it’s difficult to compare unless you’ve experienced what the air bags do to the feel of the car. I encourage anyone looking in this segment to give the LS a spin with and without the air suspension so you can really be familiar with the changes these systems make to the feel of a car.

Back on topic, let’s talk thrust. At the stoplight races the LS 600hL accelerates faster if the engine is already on. This is fairly logical since some of the motor’s twist would be consumed by starting the engine. Our numbers were taken with the engine “stopped” by the hybrid system which is the normal state of affairs. Thanks to the massive torque from the electric motor and the 5.0L V8, we hit 30 MPH after a scant 2.36 seconds. After this point the heavy curb weight comes into play with 60 MPH happening after 5.44 seconds followed by a 13.96 second quarter-mile. A BMW 750 and Mercedes S550 scoot to 60 about a half second faster while the V12 BMW 760 is a full second quicker. On the flip side even the new 8-speed ZF transmission feels like a farm tractor compared to the Lexus Hybrid Drive system. Acceleration in the 600hL is extraordinarily linear, unbelievably smooth and eerily silent. Comparisons to the Tesla Model S in terms of acceleration linearity and feel are entirely appropriate. All of a sudden the hybrid drivetrain combined with the throne in the back make sense: if I’m being driven, I want a smooth experience. Forget about the driver having fun, it’s all about the party in the back.

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

After a week with the LS 600hL I still have problems looking at the expensive cruiser in the “right” way, but I am closer to understanding the point. That point is less about fuel economy (which was 21.8 MPG over all by the way) and more about silently and smoothly cruising below the radar. If that’s your mission, then mission accomplished. The LS 600hL is also the least expensive vehicle that I know of designed with the chauffeured set in mind. Except that makes the LS 600hL the oddest duck I’ve met. Being obviously designed for owners with drivers it makes a value proposition that logically shouldn’t matter to the intended audience. If you’re being driven, the smallest part of the expense structure over the life of a vehicle is the price of the vehicle. Your driver and his benefits are likely to eat the bulk of your budget. My sounding board in this process is still trying to convince me that looking at the LS 600hL in this light is missing the point. Perhaps, but it does explain why the LS 600hL sells in such small numbers. It also explains why he still has a 2010 XJ8.


Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Best. Back. Seat. Ever.
  • Avatar on Blue Ray never sounded so good.

Quit it

  • Everyone will wonder why you didn’t buy an S-Class.
  • 438 ponies is hardly class-topping in 2013.
  • Despite being told otherwise, 21.8 MPG still seems to be missing the point.


Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

0-30: 2.36

0-60: 5.44

1/4 Mile: 13.96 @ 105 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 21.8 MPG over 623 miles

2014 Lexus LS 600hL Engine 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-002 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-003 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-004 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-005 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-006 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-007 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-008 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Exterior-010 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-001 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-002 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-003 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-004 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-006 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-007 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-008 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-009 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-010 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-011 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-013 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-014 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-015 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-016 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-018 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-019 2014 Lexus LS 600hL Interior-020



]]> 58
Review: 2013 BMW 750Li – Video Wed, 06 Mar 2013 13:30:41 +0000

The full-sized luxury market used to be a small pond before the Lexus LS appeared. Up to then all Mercedes had to worry about was the German brand known for their delightfully crude 2002. Jaguar? 1980s Jags spent so little time running they were more garage ornament than transportation. Fast forward to today and BMW is the new Mercedes and the full-sized luxury segment is getting crowded with entries from Audi, Porsche and an XJ that spends enough time running to count. Where does that leave the S-Class’ old foe? BMW tossed us the keys to their most popular 7 to find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Luxury cars are status symbols. Status can be two things however, buying something unique or showing that you can afford the same sedan as that guy from the country club. With that in mind, sales are important. In 2012 BMW nearly beat Mercedes in America shifting 11,098 7-Series vs 11,794 S-Classes making the 7 a popular and safe bet. If you’re looking for something less common, Audi shifted 6,002 A8s, the XJ  hit 4,852 while that Japanese entry that rocked the boat in ’89 had a slow year at 8,345. Porsche moved 7,614 Panameras proving that you don’t need 5-seats to move your six-digit roller.

Because full-size luxury cars are low volume but important for brand image, frequent makeovers are more common than redesigns. Like many of its owners, the 7-Series went under the knife for a face lift, resulting in a blunter nose and larger grille openings along with redesigned front and rear lamps.


Mercedes ditched the short-wheelbase S-Class in America but can still get your Beemer in different lengths. BMW tells us the long-wheelbase 750Li (as tested) is the most popular flavor so that’s what we requested. Our tester started at $90,500 and mildly optioned it landed in our driveway at $113,000. Despite being a refresh year, little changed on the inside in terms of style and parts. Still, the dashboard and doors were slathered in hand-stitched leather goodness and nary a seam was out of place. Compared to the Mercedes, the 7 feels like it is assembled from a more expensive parts bin but if you need better bits, BMW is happy to up-sell you things like a ceramic iDrive knob for $650. Jaguar and Porsche earn higher scores in this area thanks to better material, but you’ll pay dearly for them. Meanwhile Lexus delivers 95% of the interior elegance for 80% of the price.

Unless you’re slummin’ in the “discount” $73,600 740i, all 7s come with 20-way power front seats with four-way lumbar, extending thigh support, “butterfly” airline-style headrests and seat backs with adjustable curvature. They may not be as cushy as the Barcaloungers in the S-Class, but they win the award for contorting in the most directions possible. If you can’t find a comfortable position, you’re not human. Mercedes and Jaguar tout massaging thrones, but BMW’s active contour seats are more my style. Like the anti-fatigue seats in the Ford Taurus, the system uses air bladders in the seat to improve blood flow and reduce that “numb butt” feeling on long trips. (It also feels like someone is slowly groping your bottom, you know, if you’re into that.)

Interior parts quality usually declines as you move rearwards, but not for the high-rollers. The rear doors, center console and controls are all just as nicely finished as those up front and all 2013 models have standard 4-zone climate control. For an extra $3,700 (standard on the 760) the optional “luxury rear seating package” gives the rear passengers 18-way power/memory seats that heat, cool and massage your royal personage. Reclining rear seats aren’t new, but BMW takes the range of motion to an all-new level. As you’d expect, legroom is good in the 750i and excellent in the 750Li matching the XJL for most rear legroom and beating everyone else. If getting a decent massage in the rear seat is on your must-have list, buy your driver the Lexus, as it’s shiatsu massage system uses rollers instead of air bladders and gives a much deeper rub.

Infotainment and Gadgets

Luxury sedans are prime gadget breeding ground thanks to owners with disposable cash. This year brings BMW’s latest version of iDrive (4.2), hands-free trunk operation and an “attention assistant” to tell you when you’re sleepy. Of course if you were in Europe you’d also have access to “dazzle-free high beams” which shade the vehicles in-front of you from your high beam allowing it to stay on for the rest of your field of view. Sadly the DOT has decided the fancy lights aren’t allowed in America.

The newest iDrive replaces the CD button with a  “Media” button, adds voice recognition commands for searching your USB/iDevice, mildly tweaked menus and mapping software with improved 3D graphics. I find BMW’s latest iDrive iterations to be one of the more intuitive and feature-rich systems available at any price. Sadly the latest heads-up display in the 3-Series that shows infotainment details hasn’t made it to the 7 yet. Now that BMW has patched the glaring hole that was the lack of iDevice/USB voice commands, I have nothing to complain about other than the $3,700 price tag on the Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Debuting in the 7-Series is a new take on rear seat entertainment. Up till now, RSE systems have been kept  mostly separate from the infotainment system up front. Even the latest Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles which use similar graphics on the headrest screens don’t interact with the system in the same way users up front do. BMW’s new system uses 9.2-inch LCDs attached to the front seats that “float” as BMW calls it, but that’s not the interesting part: the system uses an iDrive controller and accesses the car’s central iDrive system. The twin displays aren’t the same aspect ratio or resolution as the front, but rear users have essentially the same level of iDrive access as the front allowing you to enter a navigation destination, change the media source, access BMW Connected apps and control media devices. The only thing I found odd is the rear seat user can’t control a USB/iDevice plugged in up front and vice versa. The price tag on this rear seat love? $2,800.

Like Audi and Mercedes, BMW offers an expensive night vision system. The $2,600 system uses a FLIR camera and image processing software to detect pedestrians and highlight them in yellow on the iDrive screen. It will also place a yellow pedestrian icon in the gauge cluster. Because we’re in America and our lighting laws are stupid, the system won’t shine a spotlight on the pedestrian’s legs like it would in Europe. (No, I’m not kidding about that one.) Of course, I find that the best way to detect pedestrians is to simply look out the window. My advice to Americans: save your cash or spend it on the less expensive but much more useful full-range active cruise control.


There is no doubt the Germans lead the pack when it comes to engine options, the 7-Series offering a single turbo inline-6, two twin-turbo V8s, a ridiculous twin-turbo V12 and tree-hugging hybrid.

Not originally planned for the American market, the base 740i and 740Li are the result of dealers wanting a less front-heavy 7-series lower 7-series price point. The twin-turbo 3.0L N54 I6 is out in favor of the newer twin-scroll turbo N55 engine. Power is up slightly compared to the N54 and the update adds “Valvetronic” which is BMW’s variable valve timing and lift system that also acts as the engine’s throttle body.

The 750i and 750Li, get an updated 4.4L twin-turbo V8. The new N63B44TU engine (the TU part is what’s new) gets Valvetronic and tweaked software programming to boost power from an already strong 400HP to 443. Torque takes a similar jump from 450lb-ft to 479lb-ft from 2,000-4500RPM. The power increase shaves nearly two-tenths of the 750′s sprint to 60 vs the 2012 model.

Instead of a twin-turbo V8 hybrid, BMW has downsized to a 3.0L turbo inline-6. The system uses a pancake motor between the engine and transmission to boost the same N55 engine as the 740i to 350HP and 360lb-ft. Fuel economy increases from 19/28MPG to 22/30 vs the 740i. You can expect a return on your investment sometime around the 12th of never when you consider the $10,700 premium.

If you need more cylinders, there is a twin-turbo V12 which adds more weight to the nose in exchange for 535 ponies and 550lb-ft of stump-pulling from 1,500-5,000RPM. Despite the numbers, the V12 isn’t the performance choice because of the added nose weight and long wheelbase, that’s where the Alpina B7 comes in. The B7 is a 750 that’s been tweaked by BMW’s a boosted version of the 750′s 4.4L twin-turbo V8 putting out 540HP and 538lb-ft of twist.

All engines are now mated to ZF’s 8-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels or to all four if you check the xDrive option box. For 2013 BMW has decided to program 740, 750 and B7 models to essentially decouple the engine and transmission when you lift off the accelerator pedal. The effect is like shifting to neutral and can be disabled by keeping the car in Sport or Sport +. BMW has also fitted the I6 and V8 engines with their mild start/stop system which uses a heavy-duty starter and a glass mat battery.

The 7-Series used to have the reputation of “the driver’s luxury car” but BMW’s mission has changed. That’s not to say that BMW is emulating Lexus, but our 750Li with dynamic dampers and rear air suspension felt far more isolated than the XJ Supercharged or a Panamera S. Even the badly broken pavement and pot-holed off-camber turns in the Sierra Nevada foothills were unable to upset the supple ride. Of course, a luxurious ride is at odds with crisp handling, but that is a “problem” every luxury sedan must contend with. Where does the BMW land vs the competition? Firmly in the middle. The BMW 750 uses 245-width rubber front and rear, notably smaller than the S550′s 255-width tires and the XJ’s staggered 245/275 setup. This coupled with the 4,745lb curb weight meas the 750 can’t pull as many Gs on the oval as the lighter XJ or Panamera. It also means the 750 has a harder time applying its power when compared to the competition with staggered rubber.

Don’t mistake me, the 750 is no slouch on the road. Mash the go pedal from a stop and our 750Li blasted to 60 in 4.95 eerily quiet seconds, only a few tenths off a Mustang GT (with a professional shifter at the stick.) 8.35 seconds later, the Bavarian heavyweight crossed the quarter-mile at 107MPH. Shoppers should take two things from this: First, the 750Li is a few ticks behind the lighter XJ Supercharged and second, there isn’t much of an exhaust note. You see, the turbos that give BMW’s 4.4L engine its epic shove are in the exhaust stream and that means BMW had two choices, make it quiet or live with the turbo-song. (That’s why the M5 plays canned V8 noises through its stereo.) If you want your luxury car to look and sound mean, the Panamera screams like a banshee at WOT and the XJ Supercharged and Supersport growl like a monster in a horror flick.

Although the optional active four-wheel steering ($1,750) and active roll-stabilization ($2,500) make the 750 more dynamic on the road, nothing will change the fact that the 750 is a large, softy sprung sedan with numb electric power steering. The Audi A8, despite being redesigned to put the engine farther forward in the body still has a 55/45 weight balance and front-heavy (albeit predictable) driving dynamics. While we’re talking about the Audi, it’s important to remember that there is no RWD version of the A8. Of course it goes without saying that the S550 is still Buick soft and the air-ride suspension makes it somewhat ponderous over bumpy roads. The Lexus LS 460 may be the slowest of this bunch as it’s the only one left with a naturally aspirated engine, but thanks to a relatively light curb weight and balanced chassis it has some of the most direct road feel and manners of the group.

After a week and 836 miles with the 750Li I have to admit I was smitten, but despite BMW advertising the 7-series as “the driver’s luxury car,” it had little to do with the way the 750 drove and everything to do with the back seat. Sure, the 750 is fast, sure it’s impressively nimble for a vehicle that’s one cheeseburger away from 5,000lbs, but honestly if driving feel and handling ability were your top concerns, buy the Jaguar or Porsche. If you’re after the best back seat experience, but the 750Li, it’s a better place to spend your time than a number of ultra luxury sedans I could mention. Where does that place the 750Li vs its nemesis the S550? On top for a variety of reasons. The 750Li is more engaging to drive than the S550 yet also offers a higher level of gadgetry and creature comforts. Mercedes promises the all-new 2014 S-Class will shake up the luxury market when it lands next year, but until then the Jaguar XJL should be at the top of your list followed closely by the 2013 BMW 750Li.


Hit it

  • Best Rear Seat Entertainment system available. Period.
  • BMW’s full-color heads up display

Quit it

  • Night vision. It’s kind of “gimmicky” and your cash is better spent on BMW’s excellent full-speed adaptive cruise control.
  • V12 – nose heavy and seriously, the twin-turbo V8 is incredible.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 4.95 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.3 Seconds @ 107 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 21MPG over 836 miles

BMW Provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtsy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtsy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear Seat Entertainment, iDrive, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear seat controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear iDrive Controller, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Gauge cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Gauge cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, infotainment, iDrive, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, infotainment, iDrive, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Radio and HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Shifter and iDrive, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Passenger Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Door switches, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Trunk, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Engine, N63B44TU, N63 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Engine, N63B44TU, N63 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW 750Li, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Hit it or Quit it? Hit it or Quit it? Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 38
New Headlights! BMW Launches New Siebener Mon, 23 Jul 2012 11:54:30 +0000 We honestly appreciate it when a press release does not mince words and helpfully says it right in the first sentence: “New full-LED headlights, a prominent BMW kidney grille and a modified front apron define the unmistakable appearance of the new BMW 7 Series range.”

Even someone like me who is not always intimately familiar with the offerings of the Bavarian brand will know that we have a mild facelift of the Siebener (“New: Now with 9 instead of 12 rakes in the kidney!”)

Which does not keep the good folks at BMW from compiling a truly epic press release, 72 pages and 2.2 megabytes worth of automotive PR poetry. Sorry, can’t read it all, but some of you may find it interesting.

(Kudos to the art director who had not seen all of Europe’s most picturesque great squares. Now, he has.)

2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW P90100111 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW 2013 BMW 7-Series. Picture courtesy BMW Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 11
Vellum Venom: 2012 BMW 750Li Wed, 27 Jun 2012 10:35:57 +0000 “I wish I came up with that.”

That’s a phrase I said many a morning when the studios at CCS woke up to a bumper crop of new student designs for the week.  Just because you can visualize it doesn’t mean you can make it happen.  Self pity/loathing aside, the 5th generation BMW 7-series is one of those visions in my head that I could never make.  It’s not my cup of tea, and perhaps you don’t like it either.  But the attention to detail (ATD) in this shockingly cohesive Luxury sedan implementation are not to be ignored.


Flow: the 7-er has so much flow that the sheet metal might as well be bursting at the seams with kinetic energy.  Colors and lines literally dance off the light and shadows presented here, with surface tension so well executed I can’t find a line out-of-place.  That said, I think the headlights could be a little higher (or the grille a little lower) to give the 7′s face a bit nicer posture, and the hood cut line should bend downward at the ends to accentuate the bulging hood.

But this nose is remarkably well designed.  Imagine Lincoln’s bow wave grille on this canvas!


Surface tension. Kinetic energy.  There’s something about this machine that pushes all the right buttons, especially when the lighting embellishes the bends and curves.


I tried not to like the BMW Z4-esque flat bumper treatment on the 7-series, but dammit, it looks stunning.  It looks like a top dollar luxury car.  And it literally takes the Z4′s façade to school.


While I constantly and consistently dislike the headlight eyebrows first seen on the E60 BMW 5-series, the frosted glass treatment here is more subtle; befitting a luxury car.  What kills the mood are the marketing messages hidden under the plastic.  Does anyone care about this technology enough to advertise?  No, you don’t advertise at this price point. This is tacky.


Contrasting the flowing energy up top is a rather blocky lower valence with trapezoidal fog lights.  Like a woman with the right proportion of muscle to fat, this totally works.  You need static and dynamic elements together, otherwise any car’s surface is dull and/or out of proportion.


Once again, this one’s got nice curves.  Unlike smaller BMWs, the 7′s prodigious nose helps these forms make complete sense.


Notice from this angle how the curves blend with hard bends and straight lines from the fender.  Proportion Über Alles!


Chrome fender appliqués are bad enough these days, but BMW went and ruined the whole thing with a two piece affair that bleeds over to the door!  The side marker light is necessary, so just frame it in chrome and be done with it.


While the chrome bit flows with the rest of the body, it’s more of a pimple on a rather perfect complexion. Even the yellow marker light is low and long: accentuating the visual presence of the 7-er.


And while tall cowls and pedestrian friendly noses have made the fender-to-greenhouse mating a little complicated, this looks far better than the 3-series we previously reviewed.


More to the point, imagine if the top edge of the hood matched the lower chrome molding on the door glass. Clean.


Much like the Z4-like front end, I really wanted to dislike these door pulls. But they are so well executed, right down to the subtle yet somehow flashy use of chrome!  What you see here is a fine complement to the front end’s fantastic surface tension.


While the side view mirrors do try to do “soft and lean”, they are too big and blocky to speak to the rest of the 7-series.   Some twisted part of me wants to see E36 M3 side view mirrors on this beastie. It’s probably the same part that wishes this body was actually for the next generation Lincoln Town Car.  Panther Love comes in all shapes and sizes, son…


My goodness you have a long…door. Aside from the harsh “divot” in the door’s cut line (thanks to that hard bend), this shot embodies the Grace and Pace we expect from a top-tier luxury whip.  Look out! Someone’s Rolls Royce influence might be showing!


A beautiful DLO (daylight opening) and even the gas door looks cool with the hard crease in it.  My only beef?  Add another curve starting at the base of the door cut line so it “dances” with the wheel well opening.  That’s suitably luxurious.


Surface tension again: instead of a boring blob of a roof, there’s a gentle crease that adds a muscular tone to the package.  Much like the calves of a beautiful woman (or man if the reader prefers, as I don’t discriminate like that), Bavaria got this one so right.  I wish more design firms would remember this point…so to speak.


Finishing the long body side curves are a logical end: the tail light.  Even better, the red thing’s inner curves dance delightfully well with the exterior metal.


Tall and very well organized.  There’s no Cadillac CTS buffalo butt, nor is the Bangle Butt of the previous 7-series (plural) present.  Curves and cut lines are quite harmonious.


Nary a Bangle to be seen!  Also note the gentle and flowing tumblehome to the greenhouse, accentuated by the hard bends at the door handle.  Muscle and curves in harmony.  Lovely.


I could do without the chrome license plate mustache on so many vehicles, but I will say that the 7-er’s addition of chrome backup lights does help integrate the package.  I’d put more chrome (or translucent stuff like the headlights) and ditch the stereotypical bit on the deck lid.


I know this car is very tall, just look at the space between the tailpipes and the Roundel emblem on the trunk!  But still, again, the 7-series masks the bulk so darn well!


After enduring this car’s E65 forefather for far too many years, let’s enjoy this lightly Bangled section of surfacing.


Even the drip rail is a stunning piece of integration. Calculus books are jealous.


The third brake light (CHMSL) is eye-catching for all the right reasons.  Then again, for the price, it should be swathed in Alcantara. That would be sweet.


The marker lights don’t quite line up with the tailpipes, but perhaps that’s one reason the rear end doesn’t look especially gigantic: it visually breaks up your sight lines. In a good way.

Thank you all for reading, have a great week.





]]> 39
Review: 2010 BMW 750Li xDrive Fri, 13 Aug 2010 17:36:50 +0000

With its 2011 redesign the BMW 5-Series is now much more closely related to the 7-Series. It’s smoother, quieter, and–both for better and for worse–has the feel of a larger car. So, why would someone spend roughly $18,000 more for the 7?  (Add another $3,900 for the extended wheelbase Li, and another $3,000 for AWD.) To find out, I took a 750Li xDrive for a spin after driving the new 550i.

Unlike the many manufacturers who slavishly copied its most distinctive details, most notably the humped up trunk with its droopy cutline, I was never a fan of the previous generation, E65 7-Series. The latest 7, the F01 (F02 in Li form, if you want to get picky about it), appears much slimmer and cleaner. It’s certainly a handsome car. There are no unusual, potentially off-putting details like the quad fog lights on a Mercedes E-Class or the RX-8-like fender bulges on the S-Class. If the exterior design errs, it is in being too soft, too conservative, and too much like an enlarged 3. Can a design be too timeless? This one could just as easily have been from the 1990s.

More of a problem for many people, if not for me personally: the main thing differentiating the new 7’s exterior styling from that of the new 5 is its length. Compared to the 2011 5-Series, the 750i has four additional inches of wheelbase and nearly seven additional inches of overall length. The 750Li adds another 5.5 inches, all of it in the rear passenger compartment. While Audi has similarly readopted the “same sausage, different lengths” philosophy with the new A8, no one will mistake a Mercedes E-Class for an S-Class.

Comparing interiors, F10 5-Series even more strongly resembles the F01 7-Series. The instrument panels are nearly identical, though the 7 benefits from some additional brightwork around the vents and the lack of a horizontal divider in the center stack. In both cars the nav screen, though enlarged, is much more cleanly integrated into the instrument panel. A wider, shorter center stack angled six degrees towards the driver visually connects the instrument panel with the center console rather than visually separating the two. In the 7, the shifter has returned to the center console, proof that the new car is much more driver-oriented. The car tested had the optional leather-upholstered instrument panel upper. This option costs $1,200 but adds at least four times this amount to the perceived price of the car. If you want a 7, you want this option.

Major gains have also been made in ergonomics and usability. There are more buttons, so the much-improved iDrive doesn’t have to be used for as many things, but these buttons are logically grouped and located. On the 7, the seat controls have been moved from the sides of the center armrest to a more conventional location on the sides of the seats. They’re no longer visible in the new location, yet are much easier to operate. Trial and error is no longer an inevitable part of the adjustment process. One idea worth stealing from the new Audi A8: displaying adjustments on the screen as they are made. One ergonomic slip: the door pull on the 7 is hidden and mounted too high up on the door. I knew it was there when I thought about it, but locating a door pull shouldn’t require any thought.

BMW’s multicontour seats, excellent for both long distance highway treks and the curviest hill country byways, are optional in the new six-cylinder 740i (not tested) but are standard in the 750. Unlike in the new 5-Series, these seats continue to include power-adjustable side bolsters.  Because 7-Series owners are more likely to take corners aggressively? Typical of a large German sedan, the beltline is moderately high, and there’s clearly a lot of car around you, but not to the point that visibility is impeded or driver confidence is impaired. From the driver’s seat, the 7 feels much like the 5, just a touch larger. The tape measure backs up this impression: there’s less than an inch of additional front shoulder room in the larger car.

For an obviously different car, move to the rear seat. Even in the regular wheelbase 750i you’ll find three inches of additional shoulder room (artificially constricted in the 5?) and over two inches of additional legroom. Where the 5 provides adequate room and comfort for adults, the 7 does noticeably better on both counts. With the 750Li, rear legroom grows another 5.5 inches, for a total of 44.3. Unless people think “center forward” when they see you, your feet won’t be occupying the extra inches. The new 5’s trunk is actually a little larger than the 7’s, and a folding rear seat is only optional in the midsize car. So cargo capacity isn’t going to justify the jump.

The 550i and 750Li share BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, good for a virtually lag-free 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. Even when tasked with motivating the 750Li xDrive’s quite considerable 4,861 pounds this powerplant provides the sort of effortless acceleration that used to require a V12. Though the V8’s soundtrack is suitability refined, others are either quieter or more inspiring.

While the F10 received a new eight-speed automatic capable of downshifting from top gear to second in a single bound, the F01 continues to employ the old six-speed. It’s not a bad transmission, but it’s not as smooth, as quick to shift, as flexible, or as efficient as ZF’s latest and greatest.

Another F10 innovation not present in the F01, at least not yet: electric power steering. The usual anti-EPS rhetoric aside, steering feel isn’t dissimilar in the two cars—when comparing the 750Li with its standard suspension to a 550i with the Sport Package. Comparing the 750Li to a 535i with the standard suspension, the larger car’s steering feels better weighted and more precise. Aided by optional active stabilizer bars, roll in turns is minimal. Despite its many extra inches and pounds, the 750Li is a car that can be intuitively placed right where you want it. It feels about a half-ton lighter than the scales suggest it ought to.

Although I live in Michigan, I’m wary of the dulling effect all-wheel-drive tends to have on a car’s feel. With BMW’s system this isn’t an issue. The 750Li xDrive feels so much like a rear-wheel-drive car in moderately aggressive driving that I had to recheck the “xDrive” badges on the front doors. Power is shunted to the front wheels only when the rears lose traction, and the rears don’t lose traction readily. Easily controllable throttle-induced oversteer remains a very real possibility.

The new 5 feels so smooth and quiet, I wondered what could be gained by stepping up to the 7. Quite a bit, it turns out. Within the first 50 feet it’s evident that the 7 possesses the sort of silky smoothness and insulated quietness that Lexus brought to the table. Your ears and the seat of your pants will attest that the larger car is a substantial step up from the 5. It sounds and feels like the $100,000 car it is.

And this, in the end, is what justifies the 7 even more than the additional rear seat room: compared to the 5, it simply looks, sounds, and feels more upscale and luxurious. With the F01, BMW has somehow managed to combine the silent smoothness of a Lexus with the handling for which its cars are known. Sure, the driving experience is more insulated than in a 5, but it’s not overly insulated for this class of car. It feels far better on a curvy road than any car pushing 5,000 pounds has a right to. Now is it worth the extra cost? For people seeking the highest level of luxury in a driver-oriented car, yes, it is. Perhaps the 7’s additional luxuriousness and rear seat room isn’t worth $18,000+ to you? Then spend “only” $67,000 or so on a perfomance-optioned 550i and perhaps feel like you’re getting a bargain.

Michael Kraesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of vehicle reliability and pricing data

]]> 39