2009 BMW 750i

From the side view, the taillights look a little like the Toyota Camry's - or worse, like the new Toyota Venza's - but the side view is clean, modern, and inoffensive. The dog-leg Hofmeister kink behind the rear side window is there, of course, but it receives a subtle character line repeating its form. From the rear, there's something about the new 750i that subtly hints at the old (and still stunning) 850i coupe. It's likely the fact that the 7's styling elements are nearly all horizontal, for the purpose of calling attention to the car's width.

As with the rest of the car, it's the 7-series' detailing-which you don't see in photos-that's the most impressive. Long, flowing trails of LED lighting within the taillight are elegant and modern-and are totally lost in photos. For as much as the new 7 blends in with the landscape during the day, it'll stand out from everything at night.

Though the engineers pointed out repeatedly that the 7-series' center stack is canted at an angle of 7.2 degrees toward the driver, the interior is typical of modern BMWs, which means it's a little stark, dominated by horizontal elements on the dashboard. In this regard, it certainly looks like a successor to the current 7-series, but with vastly improved ergonomics and even better-feeling materials. Like the exterior, the interior doesn't have the visual impact or sumptuous elegance of the Mercedes S-class, but it's also completely inoffensive.

The shifter has moved back to the center console, the seat controls have moved back to the outboard positions, and the climate controls have, thankfully, moved out of iDrive. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

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