BMW 7 Series

The 2014 BMW 7-Series is available in a wide range of models--and in two different sedan body styles. Models designated with an 'L' get five inches of additional wheelbase, most of which goes to additional back-seat legroom.

740i and 740Li models get a 315-horsepower, 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The all-aluminum engine has twin turbochargers, variable-cam technology and direct injection, all of which help it produce strong torque output at low revs--a full 330 foot pounds from 1,600 rpm. These models now feature available xDrive, BMW's all-wheel drive system that helps improve on-the-road traction and stability. It normally sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels until the system detects wheel slip.

The BMW 750i and 750Li come powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 that makes 445 horsepower and 480 foot pounds of torque. At the top of the lineup is the flagship 760Li, equipped with a 6.0L V12 engine making 535 horsepower. Both 750s and the 760Li utilize the 8-speed automatic transmission.

Two other models cater to very specific crowds, radically different from each other. The Alpina B7 gets a special 500-hp, twin-turbo version of the V8, huge 21-inch wheels, and Dynamic Damping Control with Active Roll Stabilization, an adjustable suspension system designed to bring the handling benefits of a high-performance sedan without the harsh ride.

The ActiveHybrid 7 model combines the 3.0L twin-turbo inline-6, 8-speed automatic transmission and electric motor system with lithium-ion battery technology to save fuel while enabling zero-to-60 acceleration in just 5.6 seconds. All 7-Series models come with an auto stop-start system and a Brake Energy Regeneration system that helps save energy by managing the alternator to charge more when coasting or braking.

The 7-Series also has a host of electronics that not only help increase safety and stability but help the 7-Series drive like a smaller sedan. xDrive models come with Hill Descent Control, which can help keep speed within a set speed between 6 and 15 mph on very steep, slippery (snow-covered or icy) inclines. There's also an Integrated Chassis Management system that individually applies the brakes and throttle individually and helps xDrive-equipped cars handle better. All 7-Series models come with an excellent double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, bringing a very responsive feel without ignoring ride comfort. Long-wheelbase (740Li and 750Li) versions come with a self-leveling air spring system for heavier loads, and back-seat space in those vehicles is vast. The front seats in all 7-Series models are firm but long-distance comfortable and very adjustable.

Electronic Damping Control also comes with all 7-Series models. The system gives the driver a choice of Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes, to control the attitude of the electronic stability control system, along with throttle responsiveness, shift behavior and steering assist. The optional Integral Active Steering system adds even more responsiveness, by actually steering the rear wheels to help with maneuverability up to about 75 mph.

Available high-tech features in the 7-Series include swiveling adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a head-up display, Active Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Detection. A Night Vision system is also on the options list. And for those who prefer to have others do the driving, there's a Luxury Rear Seating Package that brings rear ventilated seats with massage.

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Editors' First Take

The new BMW i7 EV isn't a standalone model -- it's part of the larger 2023 7 Series range that'll debut on April 20. Aside from its electric powertrain, the i7 will have all the same features and technologies as every other 7 Series, including a new driver-assistance suite that brings long-distance hands-free driving to the BMW lineup for the first time.

Called Highway Assistant, this Level 2 driving aid works on premapped stretches of US freeways at speeds up to 85 mph. BMW calls Highway Assistant a "Level 2 Plus" technology, since it has enhanced capabilities that allow for hands-free operation for longer periods of time, similar to General Motors' Super Cruise or Ford's new BlueCruise systems.

The operation is simple. While driving on Germany's A8 autobahn west of Munich, I press the on/off button on the left of the steering wheel to activate the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping systems. When a steering wheel icon in the digital gauge cluster appears, the i7 is ready to take the wheel. At this point, the i7 is working as a standard Level 2 driver-assistance system -- something BMW already offers -- where the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping functions work together. Here, I can lightly keep my hands on the wheel and the i7 does the heavy lifting. Unlike other setups, however, the wheel doesn't need to register torque from driver inputs to keep working. As long as it detects me touching the wheel in some way, it stays on.

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