The BMW 750i xDrive Is a Window Into the Hi-Tech Future of Luxury

Technological wizardry, meet incredible comfort.

WHAT THE HELL IS IT? The medium-strength version of BMW’s biggest sedan, and a technological tour de force.

WHO IS IT FOR? The Skaaden Arps partner whose Christmas list is made up entirely of items from Uncrate.

WHERE DID WE TEST IT? The city streets and flowing parkways of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS: It a BMW!—and a new one at that. All the classic cues are there: the twin-kidney grille, the quad headlamps, the long hood holding a powerhouse engine. Few carmakers have mastered the art of maintaining one exterior look across their entire lineup as well as BMW has.

THING THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY: This is an awkwardly large car. The long-wheelbase 7 Series (the only kind you can buy here nowadays, because in America, we do everything bigly) stretches 206.6 inches from nose to coccyx, and is as wide as Steph Curry is tall. It dominates lanes and parking spaces alike.

CAR IS GOOD AT: Impressing you with cutting-edge technology. Not only is the Gesture Control, which lets you control select infotainment features by moving your hand in midair, one hell of a party trick, it also winds up being handy. After only a couple hours, nonchalantly adjusting the volume with a twirl of my finger seemed the most natural thing in the world.

The Executive Lounge Seating package brings Maybach levels of luxury to the back of the 7er, offering reclining, ventilated, and massaging thrones to the VIPs posted up in the rear—but the flashiest part is the rear-seat entertainment setup, with a pair of individual 10-inch screens controlled by an Internet-connected tablet that locks into the center console.

Plenty of cars come equipped with parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and backup cameras these days, but the 7 Series has enough sonar, radar, and lenses to make an Aegis-class cruiser envious. They all work well, too, coordinating with the car’s computers on everything from remote-control parking to adaptive dampers that read the road ahead and adjust preemptively to semi-autonomous freeway driving. As with all such systems today, the latter is meant to aid your senses, brain, and limbs, not replace them; but you should feel confident in taking your hands off the wheel long enough to dig a stubborn booger out of your nose without fear of crashing.

CAR IS BAD AT: Being affordable. The V-8-powered 750i xDrive starts at $97,400, and the indulgent options list lets buyers bump that number up in a way that could make Porsche product planners nod with approval. Our test car came with just shy of $31,000 in options. That’s one Macbook Pro short of a new BMW 228i.

It’s easier to make a case for the six-cylinder 740i models, which start at $13,100 less than their V-8 equivalents but offers just as many luxury features and options. Granted, the turbo six-powered models are not as fast as the 750i, where every dig into the accelerator prompts the part of your brain designed to tell humans to run from elephants to wonder how something so big can be so fast, but the inline-six-powered 7 Series is still more than fleet enough for anyone other than Pierce Brosnan or Clive Owen.

RATE 1-5

  • PERFORMANCE: 4
  • COMFORT: 5
  • LUXURY: 5
  • HAULING PEOPLE: 4
  • HAULING STUFF: 4
  • CURB APPEAL: 3
  • “WOW” FACTOR: 4
  • OVERALL: 4

WOULD YOU BUY IT? Yes…probably.

When it comes to prestige, the full-size luxury sedan class boils down to three cars: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Audi R8, and the BMW 7 Series. These cars are the backbone of those brands’ image. Sports cars may sex up Super Bowl ads and SUVs may bring in the big bucks, but the soul of the three big German luxury automakers lies in their large sedans. As such, all three tend to use their full-sized four-doors to show off their latest and greatest ideas and technology, with the end result usually being that whichever one is newer is also better. Right now, that’s the 7 Series.

But the 7 Series’s advantage may not last long. Mercedes-Benz is revealing a revised S-Class this year, and Audi is unveiling an all-new A8—both of which are expected to come with some of the most advanced tech ever seen in a production car, including autonomous-driving features that shame almost everything else on the road.

Still, for now, it’s hard to top the big Bimmer’s combination of futuristic technology, indulgent comfort, and fleet-footed performance…so long as you need a car large enough to accommodate four adults with haphephobia.

DEEP THOUGHTS:

The 7 Series’s greatest attraction is also its biggest flaw: its size. Automotive technology tends to trickle down the lineup by nature; indeed, the new 5 Series offers almost every high-tech goodie found on the 7er. Unless you’re an insatiably gadget-hungry millionaire, the only reason to sink $100K-plus into one of these cars is if you really need all that room. And unless you’re a) driving picky people around for a living or b) are a picky person who gets driven around a lot, odds are good you don’t.

The size class below this offers enough room for four regular-sized adults without forcing the driver to manhandle a mammoth through traffic, and an SUV (or better yet, a station wagon) makes more sense if you need to tote copious amounts of people or cargo around. No, the 7 Series is made for people who are driven…or people who feel the need to demonstrate their own importance by driving a big ol’ sedan.

That’s not to say you don’t feel like a boss when driving it, though.

2016 BMW 750i xDrive

SPECS:

  • Price (as tested): $97,400 ($129,245)
  • Powertrain: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, 445 horsepower, 480 pound-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
  • Fuel Economy: 16 city, 25 highway
  • 0-60: 4.3 seconds (manufacturer figure)
  • Legroom front/rear, inches: 41.4 / 44.4
  • Number of Snapchats my girlfriend sent showing off Gesture Control: 1