Luxury and agility meet in the BMW 7-series, a magic-carpet cruiser that also manages to be an extraordinarily capable performance car. Quibbles with the 7-series are few: achieving a smooth takeoff from a stop can be difficult owing to the 7's electronic throttle mapping and the boost characteristics of its turbocharged engines; and operating the car's many controls can be daunting, despite (or because of) all the operations bundled into the iDrive controller. What's more daunting, however, is choosing from the fifteen iterations of BMW's grandest sedan. There are five engines: a six, two V-8s, a V-8 hybrid, and a V-12. All but two of the engines can be had with all-wheel drive in addition to rear-wheel drive. There's also the choice between the slightly more maneuverable standard-wheelbase car and the L version, whose 5.5-inch stretch is converted directly into additional rear-seat legroom. To make it a bit easier, we'll call out two of our favorites. The 740i (a relative bargain at $71,875) has a turbocharged six that gets the best gas mileage of the 7s yet can still whisk this car to 60 mph in as little as 5.8 seconds. There's no M version of the 7-series, but the Alpina B7 is the sportiest model. It has a lower ride height, a firmer suspension (but, like all 7s, with three selectable settings), and twenty-one-inch wheels. Conversely, our least favorite is the ActiveHybrid 7, which combines a 4.4-liter V-8 with an electric motor. It can't match the EPA ratings of the 740i, and yet the hybrid costs some $9000 more than the regular V-8 7-series.
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