2020 BMW 7 Series First Review
- 7 Series receives significant update for 2020
- Available with 6-, 8-, and 12-cylinder power
- New powertrain for the plug-in hybrid
- On sale in April
- Pricing starts at $87,445 (including $995 destination)
When it comes to full-size flagship luxury sedans, each automaker in that segment has carved out a special niche. The Audi A8 focuses on advanced technology, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is arguably the most luxurious car in the segment, and the Lexus LS brings fine craftsmanship and reliability. Then there’s the 2020 BMW 7 Series, which aims to provide a balance between luxury and sportiness. The newest BMW flagship sedan benefits from an expanded roster of luxury and convenience amenities, while customer input helped guide the updated styling.
New Styling Cues
Let’s get the styling issue out of the way. The looks of the significantly refreshed 2020 BMW 7 Series aren’t for everyone.
One of the most notable changes is up front, where the company’s trademark twin-kidney grille has been expanded to giant proportions. How giant? The grille’s surface area is 40 percent larger than it was in 2019. It may not sound like that significant a change, but when you make a grille that much taller, the rest of the nose changes too: the body is taller up front, there’s a larger front grille with more chrome, and the front end is now flat, at a 90-degree angle to the rest of the car.
The overall look is much bolder and more aggressive. While this isn’t something that was necessarily sought after in America, the 7 Series’ biggest market is in China – more than 40 percent are sold there – while the United States is the second biggest, representing 17 percent of 7 Series global sales. BMW listened to customer input, and buyers in Asian markets, who skew younger than in the U.S., wanted that bigger, bolder look, and BMW delivered for them.
There are new design elements along the sides and rear of the BMW 7 Series as well: better defined contour lines on the hood and character lines along the bodysides, and vented wings along the sides of the BMW behind the front wheels. Slimmer, sleeker 3-dimensional LED headlights tie in nicely with the narrow 3D LED taillights, and there are redesigned chrome surrounds for the exhaust tips. The 2020 BMW 7 Series rides on new light-alloy wheels.
Interior Changes, New Amenities
Not only does that younger Chinese buyer – with an average age of 38 – want a bolder-looking expression of luxury, but he or she uses digital interfaces on a regular basis. That also guided BMW’s strategy with the interior of the 7 Series.
The fully digital instrument cluster is embedded in a 12.3-inch screen, and a 10.25-inch control display, at the top of the dashboard, serves as the hub for music, navigation, and communications functions. The iDrive controller uses a touchpad to help you navigate through it all, and BMW’s new operating system makes access to settings and functions quicker than in the past. It also allows you to customize the displays for your preferences. There’s also the Intelligent Personal Assistant to help you find local restaurants and more, and software and navigation upgrades can be done remotely, over the air.
There’s a wireless charging pad for smartphones in front of the transmission shifter. However, while Apple CarPlay comes with the 7 Series, it is only for one year, after which you have to subscribe. Android Auto compatibility is not offered at all.
In addition to the tech upgrades, the 2020 BMW 7 Series also upped the luxury quotient. The sedan comes with quad-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, and available Bowers & Wilkins Diamond 3D Surround Sound audio. BMW now offers the option of quilted Nappa leather, exclusive to the 7 Series, which covers the seats and center console.
Rear passengers can use 10-inch HD screens, mounted to the back of the front seats, along with a Blu-ray player, both of which are part of the available rear-seat entertainment system. An available remote, stored in the middle of the rear seats, lets passengers control their power-adjustable seats, choose massage functions, and adjust heated seats and ambient temperature. But when it comes to both technology and luxury, there are other full-size luxury sedans that offer more features than the BMW.
When the 7 Series lineup goes on sale in April, there will be five models, all long-wheelbase versions, and all equipped with 8-speed automatic transmissions. Other global markets will also get short-wheelbase models.
The base rear-drive 740i is powered by a turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine producing 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The 740i xDrive features the same engine with all-wheel drive. These models accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 and 4.8 seconds respectively.
The 750i xDrive has a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine producing 530 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque as well as all-wheel drive. It accelerates to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
The M760i xDrive also has all-wheel drive, plus a V12 engine making 600 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, which propels the car to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
Rounding out the lineup is the 745e xDrive plug-in hybrid. Total system output of the 280-horsepower turbo inline-6 and 113-horsepower electric motor is 394 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Also going on sale in April, the plug-in hybrid has more power and a higher range when driving in all-electric mode than in the outgoing model. The 745e xDrive uses a 12.0 kWh lithium-ion battery, which is stored under the rear seats, freeing up more cargo space in the trunk.
We had the chance to drive two European-spec variants of the 7 Series: the 750i xDrive and the 745e xDrive. We spent most of our time in the 750i.
While BMW defines itself as being the sport sedan marques, there’s only so much sportiness a heavy, full-size car can offer. In addition, the suspension of the 7 Series is tuned with a bias toward comfort, and two-axle air suspension comes standard. Our drive started on a cobblestone road, where the supple suspension gave the 750i xDrive a smooth, compliant ride. On country roads and on highways, acceleration was very good, and there was never a want for more power.
More comfort than sport
The 7 Series comes with adaptive suspension, which allows you to maximize the sportiness of this sedan, and while it does still have some performance chops, the 7 Series seems to be most at home in comfort mode. The defeatable automatic start/stop works well and wasn’t a distraction.
Among the new features of the 2020 BMW 7 Series are thicker laminated glass in the side windows and the addition of extra sound insulation material around the rear fender arches. These updates make the 7 Series interior quiet, a pleasant experience for passengers, but it also seemed to mute some of the V8’s growl. This is a comfortable, spacious full-size luxury sedan that would be a pleasure to drive on long roads and offers an effortless way to cover hundreds of miles at a stretch, which puts the 7 Series on par with its competitors.
Next, we briefly drove the 745e plug-in hybrid, which was also quiet and smooth. In this model, the iDrive features are PHEV-specific. You can drive up to 36 miles on all-electric power, a step up from the previous PHEV’s all-electric 28-mile range. You can choose modes in the PHEV, which include sport, hybrid, electric, adaptive, and individual, and if you want to save your all-electric power for around-town driving, you can set the PHEV to drive powered only by the engine.
The 745e PHEV drives much like a regular 7 Series, and while 36 miles doesn’t seem like much of an enticement for the added cost, consider the added benefit of extended overall range when you drive the car as a hybrid.
The 2020 BMW 7 Series goes on sale later this month, with a starting price of $86,450 for the rear-drive 740i. Add $3,000 for the all-wheel-drive version, the 740i xDrive. The 750i xDrive starts at $102,650, and then there’s a big price jump to get to the V12-powered M760i xDrive, which starts at $157,700. The plug-in hybrid 745e xDrive Performance has a starting MSRP of $95,550. These prices do not include a $995 destination charge. Pricing is comparable to that of its competitors, but you may get more features for the money elsewhere.