SEE ALSO: BMW Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 66,900 Price As Tested $ 79,510 Engine Type DOHC 32-valve 4.4 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 268 cid/4398 cc Horsepower 282 @ 5400 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 324 @ 3700 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 120.9"/73.3"/201.7" Transmission Five-speed automatic Curb Weight 4463 pounds Fuel Capacity 22.5 gallons Tires (F/R) 235/60R16 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 5 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.31 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/23/20 0-60 MPH 6.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 14.5 seconds @ 97.0 mph Top-speed (Governed) 129 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
The big BMW 7-Series usually requires much more than a short column to describe. It's available as the V12-powered 750i and iL (for Long) and the V8-powered 740i and iL - our test vehicle for this week. It's even availble as a bulletproof Protection model - just in case.
OUTSIDE - The lines on this big BMW are timeless, but becoming a bit dated after five years. Styling cues such as the round, menacing headlights and familiar BMW kidney-shaped grille remind us that this is a serious road vehicle. The wide look of the 7-Series is offset by the lengthy rear doors of the iL extended wheelbase model. Character lines are abundant down its sides, and a protective rub strip encircles the entire vehicle. The 7-series models get a light exterior freshening this year, with body-color side sills and lower bumper surfaces. Also new are clear turn signal lens covers. Our car came with 16-inch Cross Spoke alloy wheels, while the optional Sport Package includes 18-inch Parallel Spoke wheels. A set of special run-flat wheels and tires is available.
INSIDE - From behind the wheel, the big 740iL actually feels small. As expected from BMW, the 14-way power seats are firm and supportive, and covered in durable, yet sumptuous "Montana" leather upholstery. Optional Active Comfort seats add a massage feature for optimum comfort. The doors are heavy and solid, and close with a reassuring "thunk," while the windows and sunroof all open with one-touch operation. The standard hands-free phone system works both as an in-car and a portable device, and it's been enhanced for 2001 to work with both digital and analog signals. It also incorporates BMW's "Mayday" emergency alerting system, which can track the vehicle through a global positioning satellite system, among other things. It's impossible to list all the standard features here, but the most significant are automatic climate control, keyless remote, a microfilter ventilation system, cruise control, a 14-speaker stereo with redundant steering wheel controls and auto-dimming rearview mirrors.
ON THE ROAD - BMW's 4.4-liter dual overhead-cam V8 is an all-aluminum design that uses variable valve timing and Bosch engine management to produce 282 horsepower and 324 pond-feet of torque. With a deep, throaty sound, it pulls the big sedan strongly with a steady power delivery. Sixty MPH came in just six seconds, with a 1/4-mile time of a bit over 14 seconds at 97 MPH. Where it pulls best, however, is well past the posted speed limit, which denotes its Autobahn heritage. Mated to this is a seamless five-speed automatic transmission with adaptive controls that "learn" the driving habits of its operator and adjusts shift points accordingly. A standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) program interfaces with the car's computerized electronics to assist the driver in keeping the car in control.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - When this car was new in 1996, BMW engineers developed body-stiffening measures to give it a 70-percent increase in torsional rigidity, which greatly enhanced its roadability. The front suspension uses a double-pivot strut-type layout, with forged aluminum lower arms to reduce weight. Its multilink rear suspension uses a four- link design, with twin-tube gas-pressurized shock absorbers offered on both ends. The Adaptive Ride Package, an option on our test car, comes with programmable electronic damping of the shock absorbers. The speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering on this big car is light, but sharp and precise, an attribute shared by all BMWs of today. The overall ride feels smooth and assuring, with few road disturbances making it to the steering wheel or the seat of the pants. Braking duties are handled by ventilated front and rear discs, with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
SAFETY - Dual dashboard, front seat side-impact and head protection airbags are standard, as is the anti-lock braking system.
OPTIONS - Convenience Package (power rear window, manual side window sunshades, power-fold auto-dimming outside mirrors), $915; rear seat side-impact airbags, $550; Cold Weather Package, (heated front and rear seats, ski sack), $1,100; Adaptive Ride Package, $1900.