2009 BMW 750Li: Las Vegas to Ann Arbor

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The 2009 BMW 750Li just wants to cruise. Specifically, the 750Li wants to cruise at very high speeds for long distances. We had planned for a leisurely drive from Las Vegas to Gallup, New Mexico the second night of my trip, followed by Gallup to Oklahoma City on day three, Oklahoma City to St. Louis on day four, and finally St. Louis to home, on the fifth day. But after a few hours behind the wheel on the second day of the trip, we realized that the car was so comfortable we could drive all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We drove until after midnight because the car was so comfortable, and then covered more than 1000 miles the next day-and still weren't fatigued. St. Louis to Michigan felt like a quick trip to the store after that.

My driving partner, Bob, is one of my father's good friends and is also the owner of a 1995 BMW 325i convertible. Bob could hardly believe how big, comfortable, and quick the 750Li was while he rode from Las Vegas to Oklahoma City, "I was expecting a smooth, comfortable ride, and BMW over-delivered." Bob agreed that the wind and tire noise were a little more than he expected from a car in this class, but he quickly pointed out the stereo more than made up for the road noise penetrating the cabin. Overall, Bob was thrilled to be able to spend some time in a new 7-series before the car even goes on sale in the U.S. (that date would be March 6, 2009).

Aside from the incredible landscape unfolding around the car, the drive was completely unremarkable. The big BMW just cruised along with little concern for altitude, weather, or road imperfections. If you can keep the speed somewhere around the legal limit, this big, V-8-powered luxury car will return around 24 mpg. We chose to take advantage of the open roads, sped, and saw an average between 19 and 22 mpg for most of the trip. Thanks to the active cruise control and lane departure warning systems, the car practically drove itself the whole way. At night, the automatic high-beams maximize visibility when there are no other cars on the road. Perhaps the night vision camera would have given an early warning when we nearly hit a coyote meandering across the expressway in the middle of the night somewhere in New Mexico, but the system is primarily designed to help drivers detect pedestrians.

The 7-series, like most of the luxury sedans in the class, is most enjoyable gobbling up miles on empty roads with little speed limit enforcement. While the 7-series never feels as large as it actually is, the most enjoyable BMWs still have names that begin with the numeral 3. The 7-series drives almost like a Lexus, especially ours, which lacks most of BMW's sporty options. The BMW is more involving to drive, though, and it's not bad thing to have a big, quiet, soft car for cruising.

If you're considering the purchase of a new BMW 7-series, you might want to skip the European delivery option and plan a trip across the U.S. instead. I can't think of a better way to get to know such a big, fast, comfortable car, and the scenery changes are breathtaking. Even if you don't start your ownership experience with a road trip, you'll never fully appreciate a car like the 2009 750Li unless you drive a few thousand miles straight in it.

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