2012 BMW 750 Li xDrive Sedan

Matt Tierney

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.

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

1 of 3

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles