By on July 1, 2009

The 7-Series, one of the last remaining holdouts in the super-luxury category to not offer AWD, will get BMW’s boringly-named xDrive all wheel drive this coming fall on the 750i and long wheelbase 750Li models. According to the press release, up to 80% of the power goes to the rear wheels, and a new computer system called “Active Chassis Management” can eat 30 hot dogs in under a minute. Here in the Northeast, nearly every new S-Class on the road has 4Matic, Audi has offered Quattro on its big sedans for 20 years and even Lexus joined the game by offering AWD on the newest LS. (I omit Jaguar’s XJ, of course, because it sells so badly that Tata won’t even report Jaguar’s sales by model). So all is well that ends well: BMW gets a slightly more competitive 7-Series, rich people don’t have to leave the 7-Series at home and take the winter-beater Range Rover, and the rest of us get to look at even more badges and stickers on the side of BMW’s cars.

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16 Comments on “BMW to Join Audi, Mercedes and Lexus, Offer AWD on Biggest Sedan...”

  • avatar

    Welcome back, JB. How’s the life of a lawyer.

  • avatar

    All Wheel Drive continues to be one of the biggest hoaxs perped on the driving public. Unless you live in the boonies and get snow that doesnt get plowed all the time, its like carrying around a 400LB fat-guy with you forever. And when these cars get 100K on them, ring and pinions are making all kinds of goofy noises from being on dry roads 99% of the time. Its right up there with ethanol and hydrogen.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @fred diesel

    I’ve got to say I disagree. Having driven lots of RWD cars in the Northeast even with Blizzak snow tires, I can’t stand RWD in bad weather. Not just bad in snow, but ice and freezing rain. That said, I have driven FWD cars with all season tires for the past 9 years and that entire time had only one problem in the winter. (And it was only because I was stuck on a giant sheet of ice. Zillion wheel drive wouldn’t have helped).

    Even if it’s not necessary, it’s not ethanol or hydrogen in craziness. I don’t see any government subsidies for AWD farmers in Iowa.

    I do agree about additional tech meaning more to repair in the future. Always a problem.

    Still, the people want AWD in their cars. It’s good business for manufacturers make it available for them to buy.

  • avatar

    If it makes BMW more competitive, then good for them. At least I’m not reading about a 7 Series hatchback with a 2 inch suspension lift and styling to rival the Buick Rendezvous. I’m sure it will probably have some stupid new name though, instead of what would be a traditional 750xi. 7 Series xDrive50i, or some such.

  • avatar

    According to the EPA, this is how Mercedes’ fuel numbers fair when moving from RWD to AWD:
    S550: 14/22 –> 14/21
    E350: 17/24 –> 16/22
    E550: 15/22 –> 13/19

    Wow, the E550 4MATIC is quite a pig. Worse than the E63 AMG!

  • avatar

    I’m sure I’ll start seeing these around northern Utah and parts of Idaho.

    My parents recently gave me their 2002 E320 4matic, our old Volvo 760 died and they were going to get a new vehicle for my mom. This is their second one, the first was a 89 300E 4matic. It went 212k miles with nary a problem relating to the drivetrain, just a few typical MB electrical issues. The 02 model has been rock-solid, a clock spring was replaced under warranty and that’s it. Maintenance is a bit more expensive and the additional weight wears on the tires moreso. It currently has 93k miles and has been through 6 tough Utah Wasatch Front winters, living above 7k feet (Deer Valley). Never been stuck, often times had the yellow triangle flashing at you but the car still moved along.

    I’m up in Boise, and quite frankly get along fine with a RWD Volvo and Artic Alpins in the winter but the E320 will definitely get us to places where chains or 4WD are required in the mountain passes (such as Galena Summit). Hell, we took it camping recently and it did great on a washed out road…nice to have a Mercedes that has more dirt and mud caked on then your neighbor’s GX470.

    If you don’t want a truck, crossover, or SUV an AWD car is wonderful to have.

    Finally, I know it’s a lower output and older model, but the 3.2l V6 I have regularly achieves an average of 29mpg at speeds of 80-85mph between Salt Lake and Boise, or Boise to Portland. Those aren’t flat midwestern highways either. That’s damned near the mileage my 2006 Mazda3 wagon (2.3l I4 5AT) gets. In town, however the weight of the car hinders economy and it gets about 19mpg.

    I guess the Rocky Mtns are the “boonies” to some. Of course, when or if the first major repair comes along, I’ll be dumping this car…no love loss but IMO it’s one of the last great MB products. Less doo-dads and more engineering.

  • avatar

    nearly every new S-Class on the road has 4Matic

    In NJ, almost EVERY Benz, Audi, Infiniti and BMW that can have it has 4WD. How boring is that, esp. for BMWs, whose AWD system has a pretty bad reputation compared to the normal RWD layout. But there again, who drives their bimmers as ultimate driving machines as opposed to ultimate snob chariots?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    I’m on Long Island and in Manhattan, so it’s the same deal really.

    I have to say that I have noticed a difference in back to back driving between the 335i and 335xi on dry pavement. The car with AWD felt different and I didn’t like it. No sir, I didn’t like it at all.

  • avatar

    I think AWD is great, I have it in my A6 and it makes a noticeable difference in dry and wet/snow conditions. I get 20.5mpg combined city/highway and can go to 60 in 6.2 seconds so its not too much of a pig. But not all AWD systems are created equal. In Volvo (most power to front wheels) and BMW (most power to rear wheels) AWD is pretty much a traction control system, only transferring power when the primary wheels slip. Full dry performance benefits are only realized in AWD systems that split power full-time between front and back pretty much 50/50, like Audi or Subaru systems. If its not evenly split, its likely better to just get winter tires.

    Plus, 50/50 split with traction control off makes for great winter hoonery fun.

  • avatar

    BMW 750iX is Car and Driver’s Car of the year.

    You heard it here first.

  • avatar

    The “xDrive” naming system is truly disgusting. The car is beautiful though.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The real problem with 4wd is that 95% of the idiots who drive them do not understand that 4wd will not help you turn or stop.

  • avatar

    Aha, but this won’t increase the number of stickers on the car. The RWD ones will say SDrive and the AWD ones will have XDrive in the same place.

  • avatar

    The only AWD car I have ever driven is a 2007 Lincoln MKZ AWD. The thing is amazing. I took it out in a heavy south Florida rain storm on Monday and floored it into a curve. The six speed automatic transmission downshifted about three gears, the 263 hp V6 howled, and the damn car did not slip at all. It felt like a rocket on rails. There is no comparison in high hp rear or front wheel drive vehicles. I had a FWD Northstar Cadillac and in the same rainy conditions driven the same way it would spin the front wheels and plow into the turn, My BMW and dads 300ZX Twin Turbo would just have been scary, and I would have spun out/flipped a RWD SUV or pick up doing something silly like that. I gained a lot of respect for high hp AWD platforms on monday.

  • avatar

    The only AWD car I have ever driven is a 2007 Lincoln MKZ AWD. The thing is amazing. I took it out in a heavy south Florida rain storm on Monday and floored it into a curve.

    The problem I have with this is that AWD doesn’t help you stop, nor does it help you steer more than a token amount. There’s a horrible sense of overconfidence from driving an AWD car: you don’t get an idea of how bad things really are because it’s not breaking traction on acceleration.

  • avatar

    The problem I have with this is that AWD doesn’t help you stop, nor does it help you steer more than a token amount. There’s a horrible sense of overconfidence from driving an AWD car: you don’t get an idea of how bad things really are because it’s not breaking traction on acceleration.

    Not the case with my A6. In crap weather, it rides on rails and feels great. I had a front wheel drive car previously and on a thick snowy turn the FWD would love to keep going straight if I did not slow down to 5, where as the AWD will turn. That’s more than a token amount. And in crap weather it’s always better to steer around a collision if you can rather than try and stop before your involved in it. There have been a couple of times that the AWD allowed me to steer around cars pilling up at the bottom of a snow covered hill, where the FWD would have just slid right into them, traction control screaming away to no avail. Granted, on sheet ice, the only thing that will help you much is studs or blizzaks. But when I do hit sheet ice or loose traction, I know about it. Not sure about the Lincoln, but the Audi will display traction control warnings whenever the wheels are slipping. I don’t feel the slipping as the AWD compensates for it but I still know it’s happening.

    And AWD DOES help you stop. Instead of two wheels with traction control making contact with the ground attempting to stop the car, you have 4 wheels with traction control. It does make a big difference in stopping. My previous FWD was a focus. My current A6 with quattro weights almost twice as much but stops in half the distance in snow with the same make/model of tires (The Audi tires are wider and larger of course, but both were the same model of Pirelli’s).

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