Though the BMW 7 Series has been refreshed for model-year 2013, most of the changes can’t be seen from the outside. BMW’s flagship sedan will arrive with upgraded drivetrains, new standard technology, and a range of new available options in 2013.
On the outside, the 2013 BMW 7 Series gets a slightly different front bumper with added chrome trim, and a barely noticeable reduction in kidney grille vertical slats from 12 to nine each. Other than that, the car looks just as it did when it debuted in the 2009 model year.
Under the hood, however, it's a different story. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 found in 750i and 750Li models is massaged to 445 hp – an increase of 45 hp over last year’s model. 2013 7 Series models with a V-8 also gain a new eight-speed transmission, which replaces the previous six-speed unit. Six-cylinder 740i and 740Li models retain the same twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 engine, tuned to 315 hp and 330 lb-ft, but for the first time add all-wheel drive as an option to better compete with all-wheel-drive offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Both V-8 and turbo I-6 models gain start-stop capability, which BMW expects to achieve between 20 and 25 percent better fuel economy. The 6.0-liter V-12 in the range-topping 760Li carries over in 2013, producing the same earth-moving 535 hp and 550 lb-ft.
Also new is the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 3.0-liter I-6 hybrid drivetrain, which replaces the previous V-8 powerplant. The combination of six-cylinder engine and an electric motor produces a total of 349 hp, and will reportedly be good enough to propel the hybrid 7 Series to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Going with a smaller gasoline engine is expected to increase fuel efficiency by up to 14 percent over the 2012 model’s 17/24 mpg city/highway. In 2013, the ActiveHybrid 7 will only be offered in long-wheelbase trim.
For the 2013 model year, all BMW 7 Series sedans will get standard a rear air suspension, a feature previously only available on long-wheelbase 7 Series. BMW is also offering its Dynamic Damper Control system as an option across the 7 Series lineup, which allows the car to adjust shocks independently and offer a smoother ride. Adaptive HID headlights now come standard on all 7 Series models, while full-LED headlights are standard on the 760Li, and available on others. Also available are simulated floating rear iDrive monitors, a 3D navigation display, and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system.
A six-cylinder 2012 BMW 740i in short-wheelbase form carries a $71,895 base price while a short-wheelbase 750i starts at just over $86,000 -- on 2013 models, expect a minor price increase across the range.