REVIEWS: 2012 BMW 750 Li xDrive Sedan

September 22, 2011
There's a lot to love in a BMW 7 series. My current favorite touch is the beautiful matte wood trim. Most glossy wood just looks fake and cheesy unless you're in a Bentley or Rolls-Royce, so this matte finish is a huge win in my book.
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Front Bumper View
BMW has a very comfortable interior that becomes even more enticing in long wheelbase spec. It's incredibly opulent riding in the rear seat and the 7 is best experienced back there. I know the chassis is surprisingly good if you happen to visit a track with your 7, but I've never warmed up to BMW's new twin-turbo engines with automatic transmissions. The throttle calibration makes it almost impossible to smoothly leave a stop, so I'd rather let someone else deal with that while I spread out and relax in back.
Having driven a six-cylinder 7-series from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back recently, I really wonder why buyers would choose the V-8 in this car. I understand V-12 buyers don't care about cost and want the ultimate in luxury, but the V-8 increases in cost much more than it does in performance when compared with the I-6 car. The six is so smooth, so quick, and so efficient that I can only understand choosing a V-8 if you require all-wheel drive.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
I've always found it difficult to enjoy the fabulousness of BMWs 7-series because accelerating from a stop is such a chore. The problem is twofold: the throttle is stiff and difficult to modulate; and the 4.4-liter V-8's twin turbos lack a progressive buildup. This xDrive-equipped 7 suffers from the same issues but it's a bit more tolerable because the all-wheel-drive system distributes the power to all four wheels preventing the embarrassing tire squeal that happens when the mountain of torque kicks in -- at a surprisingly low 1750 rpm -- and overpowers the rear tires. If you absolutely have to have the 750i with the V-8, I'd recommend spending the extra $3000 for the xDrive model.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
With its pearlescent white paint over a white and black interior, our BMW 750Li xDrive looked really dramatic. I was reminded of a BMW media event I attended two years ago near Lisbon, Portugal, when the assembled journalists were chauffeured to a seaside dinner along a winding coastal road in a fleet of identical white long-wheelbase 7-series sedans. If our single snow-white BMW looked good on the streets of Ann Arbor, you can imagine why a dozen or more of them chasing the sun as it set over the Atlantic burned an indelible image in my mind.
Back here in the real world, where I was behind the wheel of a 750 rather than in the spacious back seat digesting a dinner of fresh seafood and white Portuguese wine, I was surprised by just how sporty this huge, heavy sedan manages to feel. I see that our tester had the optional $2000 Active Roll Stabilization, and this seems like money well spent as this car remains remarkably flat and composed even if you pitch it into a freeway entrance ramp like you're driving a BMW Z4 roadster rather than a 5000-lb behemoth. Combine that impressive body control with a firm yet supple ride and communicative, progressive steering, and you have a full-size, full-boat luxury sedan that belies its size. Really, this is just the latest derivation of a recipe that BMW first served back in the 1990s, when the Bavarian automaker was the first to make a full-size luxury sedan handle as well as most sports cars. It remains a classic recipe, that's for sure.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I'm with Phil on the BMW 7-series: The twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder is so good that this twin-turbo V-8 seems superfluous. Of course, this 750Li xDrive is still a delight to drive. Just a few days after driving this BMW, I landed in a Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, which reminded me that while car companies can easily benchmark a spec sheet, it's much more difficult to capture and recreate the character of a competitor. The 7-serise is as good a touring car as a Mercedes-Benz S-class or an Audi A8, but BMW has raised the bar by instilling a sense of agility that seems impossible for a car this large.
Despite its athleticism, the 7-series has one shortcoming that could be improved. If BMW is going to offer a four-mode adjustable suspension, I'd expect at least one setting to be stiff enough to offend someone or at least be too firm for a long-distance drive. Instead, the ride always feels soft, even in sport plus mode. The suspension is where the 7-series' surprisingly sporty character meets its end. That's not to undermine BMW's achievement here: the 7-series always shows impressive control of its body motions. It's just seems to me that this car has even more potential to shame the less exciting competitors.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Dash
The current 7-series is in its third model year and spent four seasons in our fleet, and yet still elicits an, "Oh wow" from me every time I have an opportunity to drive it. There's an air of authenticity, exclusiveness, and taste to the biggest BMW that even very good competitors like the Porsche Panamera lack. The interior looks rich -- and smells like a baseball glove -- and feels spacious without hitting you over the head with its modernity or luxuriousness. Much as I love the cabins in the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ, I can't help but wonder if the Bimmer will look more tasteful twenty years from now.
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Rear Left Side View
Your hands wrapped around the small-diameter steering wheel, the 7-series feels no bigger than the closely related 5-series. There are few cars -- let alone ones of this size -- that communicate so well with the driver. As Joe DeMatio notes, it really feels like you can flick it as you would a small roadster. The 7-series also reminds me why we constantly tout European suspension tuning as the gold standard -- excellent body control no tradeoff in ride quality, even when the nav system took me over some of Detroit's worst roads.
Speaking of which, why did the nav system take me over some of Detroit's worst roads? For some reason, its real-time traffic feature failed to recognize that my highway exit -- and several exits after that -- was closed for construction. It then took me through a series of progressively less effective detours that led me into to the deserted intersection of Scary-Neighborhood Street and I'm-Driving-a-$100,000-BMW Avenue.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Here's one reason to stick with the twin-turbocharged V-8 instead of that superb six that's now available: all-wheel-drive. Of the three engine choices available for BMW's flagship, the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter eight-cylinder is the only one that's available with the company's xDrive driveline. We've survived harsh winters with a rear-wheel-drive 7 Series just fine, but xDrive offers ferocious grip in slippery conditions, and there will certainly be buyers in harsh climates who regularly need increased traction.
A sunny summer's day didn't exactly provide the best sort of weather to test xDrive's mettle, but it did illustrate one factor: by and large, it's largely inconspicuous. From behind the wheel, xDrive cars feel no heavier or slower than their rear-wheel-drive siblings. Apart from the $3000 price premium and slightly marginalized fuel economy, there's virtually no penalty for channeling some of the V-8's power to the front wheels.
Predictably, BMW packs quite a bit of technology into its most prestigious model line, and depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can add some pretty impressive gizmos to the mix. Like my colleagues, I was impressed with the optional active roll stabilization system, which kept the large car level and planted during hard driving. I also appreciated the nose-mounted side view cameras, especially when forced to nose my way out of a blind intersection. I'd add both to my dream 750Li xDrive, though that also means its price tag jumps by $2000 and $3500, respectively.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
I never got a chance to be a back-seat passenger and really stretch my legs out in this long-wheelbase 7-series, but the 750Lix isn't too shabby from the driver's seat, either. With 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque available, the V-8 in this 7-series is more than sufficient to help move about with alacrity. Despite its long wheelbase, this 7-series is sufficiently maneuverable in tight spaces, belieing its rather large footprint, and at speed, the body is well composed through fast corners. In this part of the world, all-wheel drive is a useful option, and although you could likely get through winter with rear-wheel drive and a good set of snow tires, there's nothing like all-wheel drive to give you that extra bit of traction on an especially slippery day.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Rear Controls
2012 BMW 750 Li xDrive Sedan
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Left Side View
Base price (with destination): $92,075
Price as tested: $100,925
Standard Equipment:
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-8
6-speed automatic transmission w/automatic & manual shift modes
Anti-lock braking system
Dynamic stability control
Dynamic traction control
Dynamic brake control
xDrive all-wheel drive system
Xenon adaptive headlights
Power 2-way moonroof
Park distance control, front & rear
Keyless entry
Power soft-close automatic doors
Multi-function sport steering wheel
iDrive system w/on-board computer & controller
Navigation system w/voice command & real-time traffic
Rear-view camera
BMW's advanced safety system
BMW assist w/Bluetooth
Options on this vehicle:
Cold weather package - $800
Driver assistance package - $3,500

Automatic high beams
Lane departure warning
Active blind spot detection
Side & top view cameras
Head-up display
Active roll stabilization - $2,000
Ceramic controls - $650
BMW apps - $250
Satellite radio w/one year subscription- $350
Gas guzzler tax - $1,300
Key options not on vehicle:
M Sport package - $3,200
Anthracite headliner
20-in. light alloy double-spoke wheels w/performance run-flat tires
M steering wheel
Aerodynamic kit
Rear entertainment package - $2,800
Luxury rear seating package - $3,700
Fuel economy:
(city/hwy/combined)
14/20/16 mpg
Engine:
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-8
Horsepower: 400hp @ 5500-6400rpm
Torque: 450lb-ft @ 1750-4500rpm
Drive:
Four-wheel
Transmission:
6-speed automatic transmission w/automatic & manual shift modes
Curb weight: 4861lb
Wheels/tires:
19-in. alloy multi-spoke wheels
245/45R19 run-flat all-season tires
Competitors: Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Mercedes-Benz S-Class
What's new? No major changes.
2012 BMW 750 Li XDrive Sedan Rear Left Side View

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