It's always a pleasure to get into a BMW 7-series. The interior of this vehicle reeks of luxury - the materials are first-rate, the two-tone color scheme is striking, and the wood trim is a deep, rich red/brown. The power driver's seat can be adjusted in so many directions that you can make it almost literally hug every curve in your body. There's also tons of room in the back seat of this long-wheelbase model should you need to transport any passengers.
Turn on the car and start driving, however, and it doesn't feel as big as it is. The steering is precise, the suspension absorbs bumps but doesn't make you feel disconnected from the road, the brakes are quite good, and the transmission responds quickly to throttle inputs. My only reservation is that, with a V-12 engine that only gets 13 mpg in the city, I can practically see an oil well running dry and a bank account emptying every time I really put my foot down. Luckily, most of the people who buy the 760Li have plenty of bank accounts and probably own their own oil well.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
This generation of the 7-series feels funny. It certainly has the BMW styling, driving dynamics, and refinement, but the looks are a bit awkward, the controls inside the cabin are clumsy, and the car generally feels older than most of its competition. That should change this fall when the new 7-series debuts at the Paris auto show.
I enjoyed the chance to sample a naturally aspirated 12-cylinder engine. That's a rarity these days unless you look to Ferrari or Lamborghini. Luxury sedans seem to require a turbo or two to accompany a 12-cylinder these days. Sure, the extra kick is a blast, but the penalty at the pump and the ridiculous surge in power isn't for everyone. This V-12 is incredibly smooth and quiet, but it never wants for power.
I think this is the first long-wheelbase 7-series I've sampled. I always wondered why someone would pay the extra money for a 7-series and get a short-wheelbase model. Maybe the streets in Europe justify the more compact barge, but American roads pair well with a long-wheelbase cruiser. The extra legroom for passengers is totally worth it.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
After spending a good amount of time recently in our Four Seasons 135i and X5, it's interesting to take a step up the BMW luxury ladder and a step back in time when entering the 760Li. This was the car that first received much of the technology that has trickled down to the rest of the Bavarian family, including the silky-smooth ZF six-speed automatic and, of course, iDrive. The next-generation 7 will improve on those two items (and undoubtedly add countless more) with an updated iDrive system and a new eight-speed ZF transmission handling the power.
Speaking of which, the 760Li's 6.0-liter V-12 has plenty of it. Power delivery is so smooth that it hardly seems you're moving quickly; I had to check the 0-to-60-mph time this morning (5.5 seconds) to make sure for myself.
The interior of this BMW Individual 7-series really caught my eye. The dark grey Alcantara headliner is balanced well by the two-tone leather elsewhere in the cabin. The center stack includes what looks like a mini armoire with two small drawers faced in gorgeous wood. I also liked the look of the wood-trimmed shelf behind the rear seats.
As for the front thrones, I think the power driver's seat is possibly too adjustable, though I love that the headrest moves fore and aft in addition to up and down. I also found the massage feature intriguing, as it works on the seat cushion and rocks you side to side in contrast to the lower back massage administered by Mercedes seats.
Considering this 7-series was launched way back in 2002, the biggest Bimmer has aged well, but aged nonetheless. I am eagerly awaiting the 2008 Paris show when we'll find out what new tech goodies will be filtering down through the BMW lineup over the next six years.
David Gluckman, Web Producer
The interior of the 7-series is gorgeous, but it feels like too many different technologies are in play here. There is a button for nearly every function the car could possibly perform, and then there's iDrive (which made its original debut in this car and still seems to be the least intuitive version). It took longer for me to program the BMW's navigation system than in any vehicle I've tested! The car's interior styling did age well. However, I'd much rather be in the newer Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which has even better materials. And the front seat of a 7-series is a bit more claustrophobic than in the S-Class, perhaps because of all the gadgets.
The V-12 does perform magnificently. Super smooth, super (almost too) quiet. On the road, this car absorbs every bump/pavement crack/crater thrown at it. Like Amy, I found gas mileage to be incredibly poor during a quick trip to Novi.
David Yochum, Assistant Editor