Offered in more varieties than any model outside of the 3 Series, the 2012 BMW 7 Series is BMW's greatest foray into personalization for the discerning car buyer. Then again, as the brand's flagship luxury sedan, it ought to be. Throwing every bit of technology and luxury available to BMW's builders into the large sedan, the 7 Series is a vehicle that is meant to be customized, not picked up off the lot. It's a car that varies as much as the people who buy it.
With two available wheelbase lengths, four engine options (not including the ActiveHybrid 7), a number of bespoke features, and available all-wheel drive, the 2012 BMW 7 Series doesn't make it easy for buyers to pick the one that's right for them. But half the fun should be choosing between the most affordable base inline-6 powered BMW 740i that gives up little in the way to its V-8 stablemates, the V-8 powered, ultra-quick BMW 750i, the sporty and low-production Alpina B7, or the over-the-top V-12 BMW 760Li with an Earth-shaking 535 horsepower.
BMWs have always focused on performance driving over a wafting driving feel, but the BMW 7 Series somehow combines the two attributes with perfect harmony, gliding over roads with a regal aplomb. The 2012 BMW 7 Series almost always feels like a smaller car than it is, which is a good thing because of its massive size. However there are two exceptions to that. Parking in a tight parking lot may be difficult due to the car's size, but BMW offers radar-based parking sensors and front and rear cameras to ease the process. The other may be with the by-special-request-only 7 Series High Security model that outfits the car with hundreds of pounds of ballistics-resistant armor, including 2.5-inch-thick glass windows and an optional air ventilator.
Engines: 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6, 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8, 6.0-liter turbocharged V-12
Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic
Models: 740i, 740Li, 750i, 750Li, 750i xDrive, 750Li xDrive, 760Li, Alpina B7, Alpina B7 long wheelbase
Now in its third year on sale, the 2012 BMW 7 Series is just about perfected, at least in a BMW sense. An iPod/USB adapter, sport steering wheel, and rearview camera have been added to all models as standard equipment. Eight-cylinder models now come equipped with standard 19-inch wheels with all-season tires and a premium stereo system. Otherwise, some options have been shuffled around, but the BMW 7 Series remains unchanged.
Unlike the 2002 to 2008 BMW 7 Series, the 2012 BMW 7 Series’ styling is more evolution than revolution. With a tall, upright grille and a long hood, the car looks like a 5 Series that has been pulled outward in every way. On the front fenders are large chrome housings for LED turn signal assemblies. Stretched wheelbase models have a unique roofline that makes the car’s appearance look more cohesive than the outgoing car’s, whose stretched rear-door styling looked like an afterthought. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on six-cylinder models with 19s standard on V-8 and V-12 cars. Alpina 7 Series models have unique 21-inch 20-spoke wheels, custom paint colors, and a body kit that further differentiates their looks from other 7 Series.
Expect a cavernous, all encompassing luxury experience with the 2012 BMW 7 Series no matter which model you choose. Rear legroom in short-wheelbase models is ample, but long-wheelbase cars add almost 6 inches between the wheels, making rear-seat leg space over-abundant for even people Andre the Giant-sized. Wood and leather cover almost every surface within the interior, and a large 10.2-inch iDrive infotainment system dominates the center stack in the interior. Options include rear-seat ventilators, active cruise control, lane departure warning, and a long list of other features. The 760Li models even have a rear-seat refrigerator available. Standard features include a moonroof, voice-operated navigation system, and an 80-gigabyte hard drive that stores data for the GPS in addition to several thousand songs customers can upload.
Performance & Handling
Driving Dynamics Control comes standard on every 2012 BMW 7 Series model, allowing drivers to select from four different comfort or sport modes. Whether choosing the base BMW 740i, powerful BMW 750Li, 500-horsepower Alpina models, or the ultra-quiet BMW 760Li, you can rest assured no model is a slouch when it comes to getting up to speed and providing the experience of a car that seemingly shrinks around you with speed. It’s a trait the BMW 7 Series has always been able to deliver, proving drivers with ample performance despite the car’s massive dimensions.
The 2012 BMW 7 Series comes with standard front and side seat-mounted airbags. Side-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, driver and passenger knee airbags, airbag occupancy sensors, active head restraints, traction and stability control are all standard. A side-view camera system for seeing the road up ahead of the long-nosed 7 Series is available in addition to front and rear parking sensors, and a lane-departure warning system.
EPA Fuel Economy
740i: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
740Li: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
750i: 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway
750Li: 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway
750i xDrive: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
750Li xDrive: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
760Li: 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway
Alpina B7: 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway; 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway (xDrive)
Alpina B7 long wheelbase: 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway; 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway (xDrive)
- Luxury in excess
- Surprisingly capable performance
- Technological wunderkind
- Solid, high-quality feel
You Won't Like
- Comes in expensive, more expensive, or astronomical
- Technological overkill for some
- Looks don’t stand out
The ultimate luxury machine.
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