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2011 BMW 740i (photos)

The 740i makes do with a smaller engine than most BMW 7-series cars, but this twin-turbo direct-injection power plant is no slouch, getting the big 7 moving promptly. Handling and cabin electronics are all first-rate.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 22 Josh Miller/CNET
BMW's flagship sedan takes an economy turn, getting a turbocharged six-cylinder engine instead of a V-8 or V-12. Although the engine's size gets a downgrade, the luxury remains, with every 7-series feature available.

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The 7-series is a thoroughly modern-looking European sedan, with soft lines and a curved roof. The grille is distinct, but the general shape has been seen before.

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The 7-series headlight casings include LED turn signals, while the headlights themselves are adaptive, turning into corners.

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This engine is the same twin-turbo 3-liter straight-six that used to power the 335i, but with updated direct-injection technology. It is more than adequate to push the big 7-series.

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The roofline is designed practically for easy access to the front and rear seats. There is plenty of headroom in the rear.

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The 740i gives up nothing when it comes to handling. With an optional active suspension, the car exhibits great grip and stability in hard cornering.

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The trunk is capacious.

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One unique styling cue on the 7-series is this chrome inset between door and fender. It holds a side marker light.

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The M Sport package adds more than looks to the 740i; it brings in the active suspension, which boosts handling.

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The interior is luxurious, and comes standard with navigation, Bluetooth phone system, and a good stereo system. But quite a bit is left optional, including iPod connectivity.

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This 740i came with BMW's active steering technology, which changes the steering ratio based on speed. It also turns the rear wheels a little to help low-speed maneuverability.

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The six-speed automatic transmission includes sport and manual modes. It shifts quickly and can hold low gears for exciting performance.

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The instrument cluster's black-panel technology hides indicator lights until they are in use.

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BMW's iDrive controller has been refined to be more intuitive over the years, with buttons giving direct access to navigation, audio, and phone.

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The main iDrive menu is a simple list of infotainment areas. The screen changes background color for each function, giving the driver a visual cue.

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The hard-drive-based navigation system displays very rich 3D maps that also show traffic conditions.

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The 740i's destination input screens are not terribly intuitive to use, one of the few problems with the car.

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HD Radio comes standard in the 740i.

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With the navigation system's hard drive, you can store music in the car, ripped from the CD drive.

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With the base audio system, the sound quality is very balanced and clear.

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The Bluetooth phone system not only makes a paired phone's contact list available onscreen, but also lets you use voice command to dial by name.

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The online manual in the 740i includes graphics and hyperlinks.

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