2006 BMW 750Li review: 2006 BMW 750Li

Bluetooth integration was smooth, albeit with a somewhat short list of recommended compatible phones. Similar to our experience with the X3, the car downloaded the address book from our Motorola V551 phone, so placing calls was very easy. For placing calls to people not in the address book, a slide-out phone keypad is designed and positioned well for the driver to use without having to look, disappearing fully into the dash when not in use. Buttons on the steering wheel control the basic audio and phone-activation controls, and voice control can be used from there.

Improved engine output and updated chassis-control technology keep the 2006 BMW 750Li near the top of its rarefied class in terms of performance. Utilizing a two-stage intake manifold and double-VANOS variable valve timing, the 4.8-liter, all-aluminum DOHC V-8 churns out 360 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque without ever seeming strained. The six-speed transmission with adaptive transmission control for manual gear selection via steering wheel-mounted buttons puts power to the ground effectively, scooting the 750Li to 60mph in 5.8 seconds.

The 2006 BMW 750Li's transmission-selection lever is fully electronic, requiring a soft push up, down, or toward the column for selecting reverse, drive, or park, respectively. The electromechanical parking brake is also a push-button affair, making for a very civilized feel from behind the wheel. The key fob is inserted into the dash with a touch-latch feel, enabling the start/stop engine button.

Metal switches set into the steering wheel allow for manual control of the 750Li's six-speed automatic transmission.

Underway, the 2006 BMW 750Li's mass is tangible, but with very effective use of aluminum chassis and braking components to reduce unsprung weight, the car feels sprightlier than expected. Variable-assist, variable-ratio speed-sensitive steering is seamless and useful, tightening up nicely as speeds rise. Switching the transmission into manual mode allows more control but seems to contradict the car's mission, although it was nice to discover that the buttons on the front and back of each side of the steering wheel shifted up and down, rather than the more conventional left-is-up, right-is-down setup. This means you can shift up and down while steering with your left hand and still program the passenger's side mirror to point curbward when in reverse with your right, should the need arise.

Near 50-50 weight distribution on the 2006 BMW 750Li provides excellent balance, and a host of chassis-control technologies team up to keep the driving entertaining. Active roll stabilization applies opposing torsion to the front and rear antiroll bars for near-flat cornering. Dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, and dynamic brake control are mostly invisible in normal conditions but would quickly become necessary for such a large and powerful rear-wheel-drive car on less-grippy surfaces.

The 2006 BMW 750Li's drag coefficient is a low 0.29, helping keep the cabin especially quiet while cruising. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway, respectable numbers given how much mass is made to move so quickly. Efficiency is helped with an adaptive knock control system. Braking is aided by ABS and electronic brake proportioning to the 13.7-inch front discs and 13.6-inch rear discs.

As with conveniences and performance, technology drives the safety systems of the 2006 BMW 750Li. Beyond the full complement of air bags--including active knee protection for front passengers, certainly a selling point among pro athletes--and warning systems, computerized information about component wear and vehicle malfunctions is broad, including brake wear and flat-tire warnings.

All safety systems are deployed by the Intelligent Safety and Information System (ISIS), which reacts differently to certain types of collisions, also shutting off the fuel pump following a severe enough impact. Adaptive brake lights increase the brake-light area and intensity under sudden hard braking, also including the taillights in extreme situations.

Autoleveling and adaptive (pivoting) headlights with Xenon low and high beams are standard, and they are complemented by halogen fog lamps in the front bumper. A high-pressure system cleans the headlights. The windshield wipers are rain sensing and alter their at-rest positions to reduce blade wear. Parallel parking and close-quarters driving are aided by a park-distance control feature that shows a bird's-eye view of the car with green-, yellow-, and red-colored images representing objects nearing the bumpers, augmented with a beep that speeds up as objects get closer and turns to a solid tone when they're within a foot.

BMW Assist customer service and roadside assistance are part of the standard four-year/50,000-mile warranty and Full Maintenance Program, which covers all factory-recommended maintenance during this period, as determined by the car's onboard service interval indicator.

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