West coast editor Jason Cammisa is a huge fan of the 2009 BMW 7-series, having driven seven different examples in the last year. Surprisingly, he finds our 750Li without the sport package to be the best 7-series he's experienced: "This is the first 750Li I've driven without the sport package, and BMW has done us a great favor by not including it. Not only is the ride substantially better, but the steering and handling are, by a large factor, vastly superior. That flies in the face of logic - one would assume that the sport-pack would improve steering and handling - but no. The sport package's integral active steering is to blame. It numbs on-center steering feel, continually varies the (actual and effective) steering angle, and dynamically changes the balance of the car. As a result, it's less predictable, less involving, and nowhere near as good."
Cammisa isn't so happy about the 750Li's throttle lag, though: "The off-the-line turbo lag is a definite problem; I noticed it on the launch and no matter how many miles I put on these cars, I can't get past it. For the record, the 760Li (V-12) doesn't have this issue. It's the only one flaw, however, in an otherwise magnificent powertrain. The transmission shifts slowly, but commendably smoothly, and the engine is silken in its power delivery. It emulates a V-12 very well, and the 750Li is a total rocket ship."
Jason's comments came after a weekend spent chauffeuring executive editor Joe DeMatio from Ann Arbor down to Louisville, Kentucky and back to attend the wedding of former Automobile Magazine staffers Sam Smith and Adrienne Newell. DeMatio spent his time sampling the rear seat: "As it turned out, I spent most of the trip chatting with my chauffeur, which is, I know, so, so gauche. In this long-wheelbase 7-series, I was physically quite far away from Jason, but conversation was still easy due to the quietness of the cabin. Ride comfort in the rear is, predictably, splendid."
After the 750Li returned from Louisville, associate editor Eric Tingwall delivered the car to New York for an extended stay with senior editor Joe Lorio. Tingwall found the ability to change a destination in the navigation system on the fly to be incredibly useful, but Lorio had a more frustrating experience with the system: "This is the dumbest navigation system I've encountered in a long time. Headed toward the George Washington Bridge on the Major Deagan expressway through the Bronx, we ran into bad traffic and the system suggested we detour into upper Manhattan. Okay, but it wanted us to then head down Broadway (a surface street through the city) to the bridge rather than cruising down the traffic-free Henry Hudson Parkway. Thanks, but no thanks. Then, in New Jersey, the display showed a route along the New Jersey Turnpike, which was correct, but the voice kept telling us to get off at every exit. Huh? Eventually we just shut it up. Then, in Camden, New Jersey, the nav wanted us to make an illegal left turn; and the next day when we were looking to enter the Turnpike, the system's suggestions were at odds with the big green signs pointing the way. You can guess which we followed."
Our big BMW continues to garner mostly praise for the driving experience. Aside from the turbo lag and the curious navigation instructions the car gave Joe Lorio, the last month has been smooth sailing, which is an apt description of life with this land yacht.
2009 BMW 750Li
Base Price: $86,025
As Tested: $103,420
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Accommodation: 5 passenger
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: DOHC 32-valve twin-turbocharged V-8
Displacement: 4.4 liters
Power: 400 hp @ 5500-6400 rpm
Torque: 450 lb-ft @ 1800-4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 14/22/17 (city/highway/combined)
Suspension, Front: Double wishbone-type
Suspension, Rear: Multi-link, coil springs
Brakes: Ventilated discs, ABS
Wheels: 18 x 8 in BMW alloys
Tires: Goodyear Eagle LS2
Tire size: 245/50R-18
Headroom F/R: 40.8/38.9 in
Wheelbase: 126.4 in
Track F/R: 63.4/63.4 in
L x W x H: 205.3 x 84.0 x 58.3 in
Weight: 4640 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 51.5/48.5%
Fuel Capacity: 21.7 gallons
Est. Range: 369 miles
Fuel Grade: 91 octane