2009 BMW 7-Series

750i RWD 4-Dr Sedan V8

750i RWD 4-Dr Sedan V8

2009 bmw 7-series Reviews and News

0904 04 Pl+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Three Quarter View
0904 01 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+front View
Automobile Magazine has just taken delivery of a stunning cashmere silver metallic 2009 BMW 750Li as the newest addition to our Four Seasons test fleet. Our long-wheelbase luxo-cruiser has a sumptuous oyster Nappa leather interior, and to help sample all of the long-wheelbase 7's new technology, we've piled on almost every available option. By skipping only the sport, luxury rear seating, and driver assistance packages, our 750Li's sticker ballooned to a recession-busting $103,720. But there isn't much point in driving a stripper 7-series, now is there?
A vehicle this special deserves something more celebratory than our typical delivery process, which amounts to yanking the keys out of the delivery boy's hands and taking the car home for the night. Instead, we've picked up the car up in San Diego, California and will be embarking on a multi-day bonding experience from here to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Autobahn stormers like the 750Li are designed for lots of high-speed running and minimal driver fatigue, and with 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque available from the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, the 2500 mile trek home should go by rather quickly. The six-speed automatic transmission should help maximize fuel economy during cruising without sacrificing passing prowess on back roads.
0904 04 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Three Quarter View
Among the features of our 7-series that are particularly suited to a cross-country drive are its premium sound package, which includes an iPod adapter and an upgraded audio system; a rear-seat entertainment system that allows rear passengers to watch DVDs; ventilated front seats; and adaptive cruise control. A fully revised iDrive controller greatly simplifies everything from the radio to the navigation system, but there are so many new gadgets in this new BMW that we probably won't be able to figure them all out by the time the car makes it to Michigan. We'll do our best.
Follow along in our blogs for daily reports from the road and photos of our 7-series going from sun to snow and everything in between. If you've got any questions about the equipment or features of the car, let us know in the comments and we'll get you an answer. Bon voyage!
0904 04 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Three Quarter View
2009 BMW 750Li
Base Price: $86,025
As Tested: $103,420
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Accommodation: 5 passenger
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: DOHC 32-valve twin-turbocharged V-8
Displacement: 4.4 liters
Power: 400 hp @ 5500-6400 rpm
Torque: 450 lb-ft @ 1800-4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
Fuel Economy: 14/22/17 (city/highway/combined)
Turns lock-to-lock:
Turning Circle:
Suspension, Front: Double wishbone-type
Suspension, Rear: Multi-link, coil springs
Brakes: Ventilated discs, ABS
Wheels: 18 x 8 in BMW alloys
Tires: Goodyear Eagle LS2
Tire size: 245/50R-18
Headroom F/R: 40.8/38.9 in
Legroom F/R:
Shoulder Room:
Wheelbase: 126.4 in
Track F/R: 63.4/63.4 in
L x W x H: 205.3 x 84.0 x 58.3 in
Cargo Capacity:
Weight: 4640 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 51.5/48.5%
Fuel Capacity: 21.7 gallons
Est. Range: 369 miles
Fuel Grade: 91 octane
Standard Equipment:
0901 13 Pl+2009 BMW 750Li+front Three Quarter View
0901 13 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+front Three Quarter View
What a hard act to follow. The last all-new 7-series, the 2002 745Li, was welcomed into the automotive world with about as much warmth and adoration as a 41-pound newborn baby girl with sixteen middle fingers and a full beard. And it merited about as much media coverage. Incensed enthusiasts on Internet forums called for BMW design director Chris Bangle's head. The BMW faithful stumbled around dealerships breathing into paper bags to allay attacks of hyperventilation. Somewhere, someone passed out at the mere sight of the bulbous trunk lid. OK, perhaps not. But even we shockproof editors at Automobile Magazine were perturbed by the styling.
European bureau chief Georg Kacher called the 745Li "a car that completely defies conventional thinking on interior and exterior design." Design editor Robert Cumberford chimed in, "Ugly? It certainly is not beautiful." BMW ignored us, and all the other critics of that 7-series (known within the company and by BMW geeks by its chassis code name, E65), and stood by the bold new look. "We felt that a radically different shape and a radically different ergonomic concept were compulsory to leapfrog the competition," said one BMW board member at the time.
0901 04 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+lED Taillights
How ironic. Back in 1994, in describing the then-new, third-generation 7-series, Cumberford maintained that he barely could tell it apart from its predecessor. "Apparently the middle-aged buyers," he wrote, "are thought not to want imaginative styling."
So who was right? BMW will happily point out that the ugly-duckling E65 matured into a beautiful white swan-becoming the best-selling 7-series of all time. Then again, BMW acknowledges that the 2006 face-lift, which diminished the E65's bizarre and polarizing looks, was the company's most successful midcycle freshening ever in generating additional sales. Read between the lines, and it looks like Cumberford's observation was correct.
0901 02 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Stadium Seating
Whether it was the face-lift or China's growing demand for premium large cars that was actually responsible for the E65's record sales, one thing is for sure: the 2009 750Li marks a return to a conservatively styled 7-series. The new 7 probably will never win any beauty pageants-at least not without a nose job to reduce those enormous nostrils-but it's not likely to invite the vehement criticism that the last one did. The styling is disappointing to those who expected BMW's new flagship sedan to look like the gorgeous, swoopy Concept CS that generated gasps at the 2007 Shanghai auto show. Worry not, CS fans-the 7's superconservative styling serves as a hint that a production CS is coming. In the meantime, let us say good-bye to the Bangle Butt and welcome back the handsome and understated 7-series.
0901 06 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+twin Turbo Engine
Beginning this March, you'll have your choice of two 7s-the 750i and the long-wheelbase 750Li. Both cars, internally designated F01 and F02, respectively, are about an inch and a half longer and 80 pounds heavier than last year's 750i and 750Li. Although the numbers on the badge haven't changed, the V-8 under the hood has. Replacing last year's 360-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 is the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged and direct-injected V-8 first seen in the X6. The force-fed V-8 produces 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, making the 2009 750Li significantly more powerful than the 2008 750Li-and quicker than even the 6.0-liter, V-12-powered 760Li, which now has been dropped.
0901 03 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+illuminated White Eyebrows
According to BMW, the 750Li is only 0.5 second behind the screaming M3 in the sprint to 60 mph. In contrast to the raucous M3, however, the 7 pulls as smoothly as a Gulfstream V from standstill to top speed. Its coddled passengers will feel nothing so undignified as a vibration or a shudder, much less a clumsy shift from the sublimely supple, six-speed ZF automatic transmission. And although the engine is strong and hushed even at speeds nearing its 6800-rpm redline, the 750Li is most spectacular when flexing its muscles in the midrange, where two silent turbochargers endow the V-8 with Herculean torque. Apart from slight turbo lag off idle, which makes the V-8's power occasionally difficult to meter, neither the driver nor the 750Li's passengers will be aware of the dual turbos under the hood.
0901 02 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Stadium Seating
None of them will likely guess the speed at which the 7-series is traveling, either. The 750Li is deceptively fast-despite the howl of wind noise entering the cabin around the A-pillars, the 155-mph speed governor interrupts as unexpectedly as an alarm clock mistakenly set for 4 a.m. After all, the V-8 is virtually inaudible, turning only 4600 rpm in sixth gear at that speed. With seats that are more comfortable than most easy chairs, the 7-especially in long-wheelbase form-is obviously made to cross continents at unholy speeds.
When those cross-continental roads become twisty, its driver will be reminded of the 750Li's 205-inch length only when he looks in the rearview mirror. The 7's agility belies its size, thanks in part to Integral Active Steering, an option available with the sport package. IAS combines BMW's Active Steering, which varies the steering ratio and assist level based primarily on vehicle speed, with a new rear-wheel-steering system. Using an electric motor, the rear wheels can be steered up to three degrees in either direction, eliminating some of the yaw that long cars experience in corners. Steering the rear wheels at parking-lot speeds also helps shave more than two feet from the big sedan's turning radius.
0901 07 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+reclining Rear Seats
Integral Active Steer functions as part of BMW's driver-adjustable system called Dynamic Driving Control. DDC boils down what would be a dizzying array of customizable chassis settings into five predetermined modes. The more sport-oriented modes sharpen throttle response, select a more aggressive transmission shift map, firm up the dampers, stiffen the antiroll bars, quicken the steering ratio, reduce the power-steering assistance, and raise the stability control's intervention threshold. DDC makes such significant alterations to so many systems that it creates tangible changes in the way the 7-series responds to inputs-and does so without confronting the driver with three million possible combinations of settings.
0901 12 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Three Quarter View
This user-friendly philosophy carries over to the all-new, second-generation iDrive. The system is so much more logically organized and intuitive than the much-maligned first-generation setup that one wonders if BMW replaced the old iDrive engineers with a staff poached from Apple. The 10.2-inch, dash-mounted display is ultrabright and uncommonly sharp, with a laptoplike resolution of 1280 by 480 pixels, and it can present highly detailed three-dimensional maps. The biggest improvement is that the menu structure is now consistent, allowing the user to react the same way to each screen. Several buttons next to the controller facilitate quick access to basic main functions, and eight memory buttons on the dashboard serve as shortcuts to any function you choose-radio stations, destinations, or display types. One very important button finally makes its appearance next to the iDrive controller-it's labeled "BACK" and performs the same function as the back button on your computer's Web browser.
0901 01 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+tiny Camera Above Reflector
And speaking of Web browsers, the 7-series has one of those, too-but litigious U.S. customers don't get it. In its place, U.S.-spec cars get BMW Search, a Google Maps-based system that can find local businesses and input their locations directly into the navigation system. Getting to that hot new restaurant couldn't be easier, either, thanks to all of the 750Li's other driver-assistance systems. Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Warning use radar sensors in the rear bumper to determine the presence of other cars. A camera in the front of the car monitors lane markings for Lane Departure Warning and will scold the driver if he drifts out of his lane. The camera also will automatically dim the high-beams if another car is approaching. Night Vision, available on the last 7-series, is now programmed to recognize a human in its field of vision and will warn the driver of such. Active Cruise Control can now bring the 750Li to a complete stop and manage its speed in stop-and-go traffic. Optional cameras mounted in the front fenders allow the 7-series' driver to peek around corners-a helpful feature on a car with such a long hood.
0901 10 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+interior
Although no less loaded with technology, the interior of the 7-series is decidedly less Star Trek in its presentation than the last 7. The shifter has moved back to the center console where it belongs, the seat controls are back to their familiar outboard positions, and the climate controls have been moved out of iDrive and onto their own space on the dash. Hallelujah. A head-up display (available for the first time in the 7-series) presents information in color and wondrous clarity. The switches for all driver-assist systems are located to the left of the driver; multimedia controls are to the right. This necessitated the move of the now-ubiquitous steering-wheel volume controls from the left side of the steering wheel to the right. The cruise control, heretofore controlled by its own stalk, is now adjusted via buttons on the left spoke of the steering wheel. The gauges are backlit (white during the day, reddish at night) and presented behind a panel that fades to black when the ignition is off.
0901 11 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Monitors
The dashboard itself is lined in a leatherlike material that looks and feels rich-although our early-production cars suffered from some bunching and gathering in the corners and around the vents. The cabin feels expensive and well-built, but with decidedly less sense of occasion than the interior of the glamorous Mercedes-Benz S-class. In fact, the same can be said about the entire 750Li-it doesn't call much attention to itself.
Indeed, it's the subtleties of the 7-series that make it such an impressive machine. Like the way the electric seatbelt retractor quietly snugs your shoulder belt a few seconds after you fasten it, or how the seat adjustment motors start out slowly and then increase in speed. Or how, if you pay really close attention, you can just begin to feel the motions of the massive nineteen-inch wheels waltzing across broken pavement below you.
0901 08 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+side View
Twenty-or even ten-years ago, we wouldn't have devoted the majority of a 7-series review to discussing the car's looks and electronic wizardry-we undoubtedly would have concentrated on the driving experience. For better or worse, we now take for granted that every new BMW will out-handle, out-ride, and out-accelerate the previous version-and this new 7 does all of that. As its peers have caught up dynamically, BMW has turned the 750Li into a rolling electronics showcase. But-and in stark contrast to the outgoing 7-series-it has developed those systems to assist the driver in, and not distract him from, savoring what the 7 has always been about. The way it drives.
0901 09 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+front Three Quarter View
Design Analysis
By Robert Cumberford
The last BMW 7-series came in for a heavy load of criticism, both before and after its midlife face-lift. But it sold well and was great to drive, and rivals artlessly copied much of its controversial styling. The newest one is far less provocative, and thus less interesting. Once BMW embraced radical styling, it needed to keep going, no matter what critics said. With its flat sides and straight-line crease below the side windows, the new car actually seems a bit plain. The pure front view is nice, though. Once away from the confines of auto shows, it should still make a positive statement. And be great to drive.
1) Side surfaces swell slightly to meet the wheel openings, a subtle and undramatic effect, as befits a big luxury car.
2) Hard straight line through the door handles, parallel to the ground, is surprising but adds apparent length.
3) The horizontal blade on the front fender and the door is much better than the vertical slots favored by a number of manufacturers.
4) Downward sweep behind the front wheels suggests a classic fender, leads to a light-gathering surface at the bottom of the doors.
5) Longitudinal ribs at the sides of the hood are new, original, and effective in emphasizing the length of the front end, improving the car's overall proportions.
6) The entire roof is classic, traditional BMW-and the better for it.
7) The mustache over the lower air intake is an interesting new feature, making the car seem longer and lower. But there's still a battering-ram feel to the front end.
8) The high grille is projected well forward, good for pedestrian safety and for a stately presence. The inclined, backswept headlamps are sporty and aerodynamic.
2009 BMW 750Li
0901 12 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear Three Quarter View
Base price $85,000 (750Li, est.)
engine DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8
displacement 4.4 liters (268 cu in)
horsepower 400 hp @ 5500 rpm
torque 450 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
transmission Type 6-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT DSST
tire size f, r 245/45YR-19, 275/40YR-19
L x W x H 205.3 x 74.9 x 58.3 in
wheelbase 126.4 in
track f/r 63.4/65.0 in
weight 4640 lb (per manufacturer)
fuel MILEAGE 15/23 mpg (est.)
Helping You Know Your (Speed) Limits
By Lawrence Ulrich
0901 05 Z+2009 BMW 750Li+wood Door Trim
Ignoring the speed limit may be par for the European course, but drivers of the latest BMW 7-series will at least get a friendly electronic nudge to avoid a run-in with the Polizei. The optional camera-based system can actually "read" speed limit signs and flash the results onto the 7-series' head-up display or instrument cluster. Developed by BMW and Continental, the system combines three complex functions-speed limit monitoring, lane departure warning, and an automatic high-beam dimming feature-on a single digital camera (housed near the rearview mirror) and a single system-on-chip processor.
The unit can read both signposts and the changeable displays typically used on overpasses. It compares speed limit information on the car's navigation database against what it sees on the road to alert the driver to impending changes and the current limit-the latter might be a boon when roadway signs are sparse, or when a police car looms behind and you have no clue whether you're going 5 mph under or 10 mph over. The speed limit can be shown alongside the head-up speedometer reading, and the speed monitoring also can be shut off.
For now, Americans are out of the loop, as the system won't be offered on the U.S.-spec 7-series. A lack of standardized road signs from state to state-including signs with separate limits for cars and trucks-creates technical hurdles that BMW is working to overcome. BMW does expect the technology to trickle down to other models in its lineup.
If the system does arrive on our shores, one thing must change. Asked for the gizmo's official title, a BMW spokesman struggled before replying "speed limit warning." Yankee marketing ingenuity clearly calls for a catchier name; we suggest "iSpeed."
0807 01pl+2009 BMW 750i+side Driving View
0807 15z+2009 BMW 750Li+front View
BMW insists that the current 7-series is the most successful 7 ever, but we're not sure we believe it. With awkward styling (and that's being very nice) and a dreadful user interface that was inscrutable to twenty-year-old IT geniuses, much less the sixty-year-olds the 7-series was supposed to appeal to, the current 7-series had some big problems.
And despite the company's continued, arrogant insistence that it had done nothing wrong, BMW has fixed the 7-series. Introducing the all-new 2009 7-series (known within BMW as the F01). It will be sold in the United States with only one engine, the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that debuted this summer in the X6. With 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, the blown V-8 renders the old 6.0-liter V-12 obsolete. The V-12 made only marginally more power -- 438 hp - and about the same torque, at 444 lb-ft. If BMW does introduce a V-12, we can be sure it'll be twin-turbocharged, just like the V-12s found in the Mercedes-Benz S-class, the biggest competitor to the 7-series.
0807 03z+2009 BMW 750i+twin Turbo V8 Engine
And though the 750i and the 750Li don't appeal to our eyes, visually, the way that the S-class does, the new 7-series has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. With more gadgets, gizmos, bells, and whistles than your average electronics megastore, the 7-series is as much about its electronics as it is about driving. The dreaded iDrive is gone at last, replaced by an all-new system that will let the 7-series driver actually concentrate on driving his or her Ultimate Driving Machine.
We had the chance to spend a day with a pre-production, engineering mule of the new 7-series at BMW's testing facility in France. Click through the next few pages to find out what we learned about BMW's new flagship sedan.
0807 17z+2009 BMW 750Li+side View
Bye Bye Bangle Butt
You'd think that a preview of BMW's new luxury sedan would concentrate first and foremost on how the car drives. It is, after all, the Ultimate Driving Machine. If you can't stand the suspense, just skip ahead to the last page. Here's a teaser: we're pretty confident that the 7-series will be, dynamically, the best in its class. The last 7-series was pretty good in that regard. What the last-generation car needed badly, and what it got, was a makeover.
Personally, I consider the 2002 745i to be one of the homeliest sedans on the planet. The 2006 facelift did wonders for its face and for its sales numbers-according to BMW, it was the company's most successful facelift ever, in terms of additional sales generated-but the changes were a Band-Aid over a bullet wound.
0807 05z+2009 BMW 750i+hofmeister Kink
The new car takes what was right about its predecessor-its stunning proportions-and rids it of the ugly details. No one will pull out cell-phone cameras when the new 7-series first rolls down your town's High Street-but they won't pull out sick bags, either. The first thing you notice is a startlingly large and vertical grille. The rest of the car, though, looks somehow familiar. The bull-nosed front end reminds us a little of the Lexus IS-F, and the exhaust diffusers (they're not exhaust tips) in the rear are vaguely like the ones in the Lexus LS. But the rest of the design isn't derivative.
The more you look at the 750i, the more details become apparent. In the photographs, the headlights look nondescript, if boring. But from straight on, when a 7-series is coming toward you, you'll notice the illuminated eyebrows, which instantly recall the stunning CS concept. The hood is devoid of ribs or detailing, save the wide power bulge that's typical of BMW. The sides of the 7-series are adorned with only two character lines-one very dramatic one that neatly incorporates the door handles, and another that flows gently from the chromed side-marker lights in the fender to the bottom of the doors. The roofline on the long-wheelbase 750Li differs from that of the short-wheelbase model to help eliminate the artificially stretched look that other cars suffer from (the long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ8, for example).
0807 01z+2009 BMW 750i+interior View
From the side view, the taillights look a little like the Toyota Camry's - or worse, like the new Toyota Venza's - but the side view is clean, modern, and inoffensive. The dog-leg Hofmeister kink behind the rear side window is there, of course, but it receives a subtle character line repeating its form. From the rear, there's something about the new 750i that subtly hints at the old (and still stunning) 850i coupe. It's likely the fact that the 7's styling elements are nearly all horizontal, for the purpose of calling attention to the car's width.
As with the rest of the car, it's the 7-series' detailing-which you don't see in photos-that's the most impressive. Long, flowing trails of LED lighting within the taillight are elegant and modern-and are totally lost in photos. For as much as the new 7 blends in with the landscape during the day, it'll stand out from everything at night.
0807 02z+2009 BMW 750i+center Console
Though the engineers pointed out repeatedly that the 7-series' center stack is canted at an angle of 7.2 degrees toward the driver, the interior is typical of modern BMWs, which means it's a little stark, dominated by horizontal elements on the dashboard. In this regard, it certainly looks like a successor to the current 7-series, but with vastly improved ergonomics and even better-feeling materials. Like the exterior, the interior doesn't have the visual impact or sumptuous elegance of the Mercedes S-class, but it's also completely inoffensive.
The shifter has moved back to the center console, the seat controls have moved back to the outboard positions, and the climate controls have, thankfully, moved out of iDrive. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
0807 04z+2009 BMW 750i+iDrive Main Menu
The centerpiece of the 7-series' user interface is, of course, its iDrive controller. Thankfully, the old iDrive's menu structures have been ditched completely, replaced by a new, much more user-friendly menu structure. First and foremost, the new iDrive's menu structures are consistent-they all look the same and work the same.
The iDrive controller is smaller than the old one, and no longer uses force-feedback, but it doesn't really need to. It can be moved in all the same directions as the old controller (twisted, pressed, or shoved in any direction).
The main menu is no longer a north/south/east/west affair - it's a logical list of the iDrive's functions, organized circularly. You select a function by, for example, twisting the controller to the correct spot and then pressing it in. The submenus are clear, concise, and easy to figure out - and more important, they are stacked on top of one another visually on the screen. At any time, pressing the controller to the left accesses the previous menu. To the right, the next. It reminds us of a TiVo in its user-friendliness. You enter names in the navigation system by using a circular speller on the display, which is much easier and faster. As a bonus, a preview of the destination is displayed as you're typing, so in case there are multiple destinations with similar names, you're sure you've entered the correct one.
0807 06z+2009 BMW 750i+iDrive Controller
The direct-access buttons arranged around the iDrive controller are another bonus. Made in different sizes and shapes to help the user find the right button without needing to take his or her eyes off the road, they allow a quick jump to specific functions-such as going back to the radio controls or to the navigation map. There are two other function buttons that are key-one is labeled BACK, which mimics the eponymous button on your Internet browser, going back one step. The other is a button labeled OPTION, which gives a context-sensitive menu of functions like the right-click button on a PC mouse.
The unusually bright and clear screen is enlarged to 10.2 inches on the 7-series, with a resolution of 1280 x 480 pixels. There are eight favorite buttons located on the dash, and they can be programmed to operate almost any functions-from something simple as "play 92.7 FM" to "navigate home" to something as complicated as storing your favorite map display orientation and scale. As before, the iDrive screen can be split into two displays, with a larger display on the left and a smaller section on the right. However, unlike before, the smaller screen can simultaneously display a map with a different scale or orientation, or even music information, leaving the bigger, widescreen portion of the display for the navigation map.
0807 13z+2009 BMW 750i+navigation Display
The infotainment system also has a hard drive to store your music-and it can rip songs directly off of CDs. You can update the system's internal Gracenote system using one of two USB ports. The port in the glovebox can be used for software updates or to copy or play music from a memory stick. The USB port in the center console is used only to play music from a memory stick or USB-compatible device, like your iPod.
Thankfully, HVAC controls are now no longer part of iDrive-and all climate control functions are operated within a dash panel. The rear passengers also receive two separate zones of climate control, and their footwells are electrically heated. All climate controls are well-thought-out and easy to use, and the display uses BMW's new Black Panel technology.
The Black Panel is also found in the center console, and it refers to a new visual trick whereby a matte black panel covers LCD displays. The cover blacks out the edges of the LCD display below, so you don't see where the display starts and ends, and the contents of the display seem to come out of nowhere.
0807 12z+2009 BMW 750i+rear Seat View
The 750i's gauges use this technology. With the engine switched off, you see only the chrome rings of the circular gauges. Once the ignition is turned on, however, the numbers and needles glow from below the surface. It's a pretty cool effect. Then, below the gauges is a rectangular LCD panel that displays all sorts of information-trip computer functions like fuel economy and navigation instructions, for example-that seems to rise from nowhere. In fact, the bottom quarter of each of the big circular gauges (the speedometer and tachometer) are rendered digitally to provide virtual fuel economy and range gauges. The instrument panel is simple and elegant as well as easy to read-and it lights up white during the day, and BMW's trademark orange at night.
BMW chose to move its steering-wheel-mounted volume control from the left side of the wheel to the right. This might upset a few traditionalists, but the reasoning for this change is anything but arbitrary. BMW wanted to move all driver-only functions to the left of the steering wheel, and all multimedia functions to the right. Hence, the cruise control is now controlled by buttons on the left spoke of the steering wheel (and is, for the first time, no longer on a separate stalk). The shifter, of course, remains on the right side of the wheel despite being a driver-only function, but at least is back on the center console instead of on the steering column.
The 7's new sunroof, which we were unable to use, also features a new and innovative built-in wind deflector. Unlike conventional deflectors, which pop up to one height when the sunroof is open, the 7's has multiple positions depending on vehicle speed, so that it can reduce wind buffeting in the cabin at lower speeds but then lower slightly to prevent excess wind noise at high speeds. The 7-series offers other technologies, of course. Read more about it in the Electronic Driver Aids section, next.
0807 08z+2009 BMW 750i+driving Dynamic Control
Electronic Driver Aids
BMW recognizes that the 750i and 750Li are much more likely to be driven by people who don't want-or even understand-the adjustability of the M3 and the M5. The M cars give their drivers almost endless combinations of adjustments to various electronically controlled chassis systems-which is great. But give someone enough rope, and he'll probably hang himself. So rather than allow the 7-series driver to choose an unwise combination of chassis settings, BMW gives the driver the choice of five pre-programmed settings, accessed through Dynamic Driving Control (DDC). DDC takes advantage of BMW's Integrated Chassis Management (ICM) system, which uses a Flexray data transmission system that lets up to 16 chassis control units talk to one another. Sounds complicated, but its job is to make life simpler for you, the driver.
The F01's five pre-programmed modes, in order of increasing "sportiness,"are Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, or DSC off. The 7-series will start out in whatever mode it was previously left in, as long as that's either Comfort or Normal. Because the higher modes increase fuel consumption (by putting the transmission in sport mode), the 7-series will revert to Normal on re-start.
As you move up through the modes, the DDC will gradually change the function of, among other things, the following systems:
* Electronic Damping Control. This system gives a computer control over the suspension's shock absorbers and can vary the stiffness of each shock absorber continuously and independently of the others. Additionally, it can also vary the shock's tuning in compression and rebound independently. Going to a sportier mode in DDC will stiffen the suspension accordingly.
* Six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission's shift patterns become gradually more aggressive in the higher modes, leading to increased response but decreased fuel economy. Shoving the transmission selector to the "sport" mode (as on other BMW automatics) accomplishes the same thing independently of the DDC mode.* Electronic throttle control: The higher modes quicken up the accelerator pedal mapping for quicker responses. We're not usually a fan of these systems because they don't actually increase power output, just make it more difficult to drive smoothly.
* Dynamic Drive Control (which is optional, as part of the Sport Package). This system, known from other BMWs, uses computer-controlled actuators to stiffen or loosen the anti-roll bars. Stiff anti-roll bars help reduce body roll in corners but contribute to a rough ride; so when the car isn't cornering, the computer can reduce the preload on the bars, smoothing out the ride. Higher levels in the DDC stiffen up body roll earlier.
0807 07z+2009 BMW 750i+integral Active Steering
* Integral Active Steering (also optional as part of the Sport Package). This system takes BMW's Dynamic Steering to a new level. Dynamic Steering gives the computer control of the steering ratio-the amount you need to turn the steering wheel in order to get a certain response from the front wheels. We've used the system in the past and liked that it allows you to park easily (by reducing the steering ratio at low speeds), but have felt the varying ratios hard to get used to. BMW has taken the system to a new level by adding active rear steering - a system that can electrically turn the rear wheels up to 3' in either direction, also altering the steering ratio. Like other such systems, it turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front at parking speeds (impressively reducing the turning radius by almost three feet), and in the same direction at high speeds (increasing vehicle stability, and also increasing rear-seat comfort by changing yaw-angle forces into lateral forces for the passengers back there). It can also supply small corrective forces during slides, reducing the need for stability control to intervene. Not only can the system change the steering angle, but it can also change the steering effort. And as you select higher modes, the system quickens the steering and reduces assist, giving a more sporty feeling. It's probably the most dramatic change through the DDC modes.
* Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). The 7-series' DSC includes a huge amount of sub-functions, including ABS (anti-lock brakes), ASC (stability control, including a separate mode for stabilizing a trailer), CBC (cornering brake control), DBC (Dynamic Brake Control, which recognizes panic situations and helps the driver to effect a full-braking panic stop with less pedal pressure), Brake Fade Compensation, Brake Drying (which applies the brakes slightly in wet conditions to keep the pads dry and thus ready for use), Brake Standby (which applies slight brake pressure in the event of a sudden lift from the gas, moving the brake pads up against the rotor for quicker response in a panic stop), Startoff Assistant (which prevents the 750i from rolling backwards down a hill as you start out), ACC Active Cruise Control (see below), and automatic brake hold (which holds the car at a stop even with the transmission in gear). And last but not least, the DSC system provides electronic rear limited-slip functionality by braking a spinning rear wheel. DSC is engaged in all modes, except the two most aggressive. In Sport Plus, a special DTC mode is engaged, where the threshold of stability control intervention is raised to allow more spirited driving without intervention. Stability control (but not ABS or the electronic diff functionality) is switched off completely in DSC-off mode (which is selected by holding down the DSC button for several seconds).
Unlike in the M cars, none of the DDC modes are adjustable except one: Sport. In iDrive, you have the option of changing each of the chassis systems individually for your own favorite chassis setting.
0807 14z+2009 BMW 750i+head Up Display
The long-wheelbase 750Li also has self-leveling rear air suspension standard. Other optional technology is as follows:
* Active Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Warning uses radar sensors in the rear bumpers to see around two hundred feet behind the vehicle to determine if a vehicle is in, or is approaching, the 7-series from behind in a neighboring lane. A triangle in the appropriate outside rear-view mirror illuminates if the system detects that a vehicle is in the driver's blind spot - or is approaching it rapidly. Should the driver turn the signal on to indicate that he or she will be turning into that lane, LEDs in the mirror housing will flash brightly at the driver, and the steering wheel will vibrate.
0807 16z+2009 BMW 750i+lane Change Warning
* Lane Departure Warning: A camera in the windshield rear-view mirror monitors lane markings ahead and will signal the driver if she or he is about to wander out of their lane without signaling.
* Highbeam Assist will automatically dim the high-beam lights when an oncoming car is visible, and then re-activate them after the car has passed.
* Sideview Cameras: Thanks to small cameras mounted in the front fenders, the driver of the 7-series can see to the left and right from a vantage point well in front of the seat when, for example, creeping out from a side street when visibility is restricted. Of course, the 7-series also has the requisite reverse camera, but the sideview cameras are options.
0807 11z+2009 BMW 750i+night Vision
* Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection: The 7-series uses an infrared camera to detect animals, pedestrians, and other living objects up to 1600 feet in front of the car-well in advance of the headlight's illumination. A new system can recognize pedestrians (and, later, will be able to recognize other animals) and will warn the driver. If the pedestrian is in the path of the vehicle, a second, stronger warning will be given.
* Active Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop-and-Go Function. The new version of BMW's radar-guided cruise control can bring the 7-series to a stop, and then manage stop-and-go traffic so long as the car isn't stopped for more than 3 seconds.
* BMW Assist will automatically call a call center in the event that the 7-series is involved in a crash where the airbags were triggered. In addition to the location of the car, the 750i will transmit data about the severity of the crash so that emergency response workers can dispatch the appropriate amount of help.
With all of these technologies, how does the 7-series drive? Your answer-finally-on the next page.
0807 09z+2009 BMW 750Li+side View
2009 BMW 750i and 750iL Driving Impressions
So how does it drive? Well, brilliantly. Of course, we had the opportunity to drive the new 7-series only on BMW's proving grounds-and only for a very limited time. The twin-turbo V-8 exhibits some very noticeable lag off the line, but this is a seriously fast sedan-one that will likely outrun (or at least match the performance of) last year's V-12 760Li.
From behind the wheel, the 7-series feels much smaller than it is. The electronic systems help in this regard, but pushing a long-wheelbase 750Li around the dry handling track, we were very impressed with its neutral balance, prodigious cornering grip, and strong brakes. Put DDC in the higher modes (like Sport Plus) and the steering ratio is quick, effort is high, and the big 7 turns in sharply and with no noticeable body control. It's no exaggeration to think you're driving something the size of a 5-series-or even a 3-series-when the road turns curvy.
That sentiment was no less apparent on the wet handling course in a short-wheelbase 750i. A perfectly neutral chassis setup combined with the thrust of 450 lb-ft of torque makes it very easy to be sideways in the 7-series (with the stability control disabled, of course). Noticeable turbo lag and jumpy accelerator pedal response in the sportier DDC modes made holding drifts a bit difficult. This 7-series dances so well, you'll be tempted to drift it.
0807 10z+2009 BMW 750Li+rear View
Thanks to extensive use of aluminum (in the roof, front fenders, doors, and front spring towers) the 7-series gains only a few pounds over its predecessor.
The ride quality seemed fantastic (especially in the softer modes), soft but always well controlled. This is the first non-crossover BMW to use a multi-link front suspension (all previous sedans used a strut-type front suspension). As we said in the introduction, there's little doubt that the new 7-series will remain at the top of its class, dynamically.
Whether 100-mph drifts are what its target audience cares about, however, is another story. We suspect not - but if the last 7-series was BMW's best-selling 7-series ever, there's little doubt that this one will do even better. After all, it's vastly better looking and infinitely easier to use. All I kept thinking was "this new 7-series is going to make a hell of a platform for the car that BMW's going to build off the Concept CS show car." With this car's dance moves and improved interface and the CS's good looks, that will be the luxury car to beat. Until then, we can heave a sigh of relief that BMW has finally admitted-without admitting anything at all-that the old 7-series was deeply flawed. And fixed the new one.
Designer Karim Habib has spent more than ten years with BMW, most recently holding responsibility for the 2010 7-series and the 2007 Concept CS. After a two-year stint with Mercedes-Benz, he’s back at BMW as the head of exterior design. We recently met with Habib to discuss the new 6-series coupe and other design issues facing BMW. Here’s what he had to say…
1007 03+2009 BMW 750Li+front Three Quarter View
It's no surprise that this limousine-sized BMW 750Li spent the last year serving as our favorite escort to formal events. It attended three weddings and a funeral, even acting as the matrimonial limo for one happy bride and groom. But those trips alone account for only part of the 38,739 miles this large barge gobbled up during the last four seasons - a far greater number of miles than we put on most sedans.
1007 03+2009 BMW 750Li+front Three Quarter View

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2009 BMW 7-Series
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15 MPG City | 22 MPG Hwy
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15 MPG City | 22 MPG Hwy
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2009 BMW 7-Series Specifications

Quick Glance:
4.4L V8Engine
Fuel economy City:
15 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
22 MPG
400 hp @ 6400rpm
450 ft lb of torque @ 1800rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 144 months
Unlimited miles / 48 months
Recall Date
Potential Units Affected

Recall Date
Potential Units Affected

IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Tested
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Tested
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Tested
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Tested
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Tested
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Applicable

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