By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Eagle, Idaho – It’s been our experience that every new BMW we drive automatically qualifies for Ultimate Driving Machine status. The ticket into this status for the 2020 BMW 740i xDrive is strong acceleration, precision cornering and excellent braking.
Of course, the flagship sedan edition is opulent, too, with great supportive seats, a high level of luxury technologies and extra plushness that comes with a precision engineered large luxury sedan.
Numerous Upgrades for 2020
The BMW’s flagship sedan design is upgraded for 2020 with a new hood, headlights, front fenders, rear bumper trim and rear lights. But the most noticeable change is the 40 percent larger BMW kidney shaped grill, which challenges both the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 for consuming the most front-end real estate. The grill has adjustable vanes which open and close to meet engine cooling requirements.
While the grill grows, the headlights get smaller with Adaptive Full LED Lights with available optional LaserLights. The LaserLight system ($1,000) creates a controlled beam which is 10 times brighter than the LED-created light without blinding oncoming vehicles. We also like the new rear end treatment with the slim three-dimensional LED rear lights that extends across the full width of the trunk lid.
Large but Agile
A tight 21-foot turning radius makes the big sedan feel agile, until you get into a tight parking lot and discover how long the 207-inch long sedan really is in a small space. However, this large size BMW does make for a roomy comfortable interior. Trunk space is equally impressive with 18.2 cubic feet of well-designed luggage space.
Switching from nearly any other car to a BMW always produces a driving challenge for us initially, until we get reacquainted with the BMW controls, which often require duplicate actions to complete the task – for example, you have push the start/stop button twice to shut the car off, or pulling the hood release twice to get into the engine and several others. It’s designed improved safety…and sometimes takes getting used to – again.
Six Seven Series Models
The 7 Series comes in six trim and power levels if you count the Alpina B7 version. We drove the 740i xDrive which is powered by a super-smooth 335 horsepower in-line 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger. All the 7 series models have the xDrive all-wheel drive, except for the base 740i which is rear-wheel drive. The other models include the 750i with a 523-hp twin turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 and the M760i with a 601-hp twin turbo 6.6-liter V-12.
There’s also a 745e plug-in electric hybrid model, that uses the 3.0-liter turbocharged six cylinder and electric motors which combine to make 389-hp. It has a base price of $95,550. Plus, there is a 600-hp V-8 powered Alpina B7 with its $142,800 base price.
The base prices on the gasoline models range from $86,450 for the RWD 740i up to $157,700 for the M760i. The six-cylinder and V-8 version have an excellent new eight-speed Sportronic transmission which produced quick smooth shifts at all speeds. The Sportmatic is also equipped with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for those of us who like to be more involved.
A 4.8 Second 0 to 60 mph Six-Cylinder
Our test model, the 740i xDrive produced a very quick 4.8 second 0 to 60 mph time along with a top track speed limited top speed of 130 mph. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. We averaged 22.2 mpg according to the trip computer.
Massive Luxury Interior
The 740i sedan provides its occupants with a comfortable ride in a spacious interior along with a cavernous 18.2-cubic feet of well-designed luggage space. On smooth roads, the interior is quiet, but as the surface texture roughens road noise from the summer tread run-flat tires increases significantly.
Well-Balanced Ride and Handling
The chassis, suspension and damping systems, along with the brakes and steering, have ben engineered to produce an excellent balance between comfortable cruising and a more aggressive driving style. The driver can use the Driving Experience Control buttons to suit the driving situation and configure the car to maximize its responsiveness. The controls also have an Adaptive mode, that automatically adapts to the driving style and situation, based on movements of the accelerator, steering input, gear selection and even from the navigation system.
Attention to Detail
Some interesting little features included the wireless cell charger located in front of the console mounted drink holders. Just drop the phone in an it started to charge; it didn’t require jockeying the phone to get it to work like some chargers we’ve tried.
We understand that ambient lighting is a big thing for some people, but we thought the lighting had gone too far when we saw the speakers illuminated. The strip of lights projected on to the ground outside the doors was a nice touch, however.
Driver Assistance Features
Among the extensive safety systems integrated into the 740i, the Driver Assistance Systems are the most overt with features which gather information to aid the driver using multiple cameras, ultrasonic sensors and, radar to monitor the vehicles surrounding area. The systems then alert the driver to the hazards or minimize the risk of an accident by means of corrective braking or steering. The systems are part of what will ultimately be used for automated driving in the future.
The Active Driving Assistant package, which is standard equipment for the new BMW 7 Series, includes the Collision and Pedestrian (and cyclist) Warning with City Braking function. It also includes Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Speed Limit Info system, Rear Collision Preparation and Cross Traffic Alert. There’s also Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with side collision avoidance, Steering & Traffic Jam Assistant, Automatic Lane Change and Evasion Assistant & Cross Traffic alert.
In the very competitive category, the 2020 BMW 740i xDrive offers shoppers a sedan large on luxury and comfortable for the passengers. But the driver gets the most fun with its high level of performance and safety features. Our test car totaled nearly $103,000 with about $10,000 in options, so this is not a car for everyone, but for someone that can afford the price, the BMW 740i may be the car for you.