2023 BMW 7 Series
Every BMW 7 Series has been ambitious and high-tech, but the new-for-2023 seventh-generation model might be the most radical yet. Ironically it comes dressed in the most conservative styling of any 21st-century 7 Series, but the shape clothes a reinvented car. The inline-six and V8 engines are still there, but now there is a fully-electric drivetrain in the form of the i7 (which we review separately). It also still offers plenty of driving satisfaction, but BMW has doubled down on luxury and technology to challenge Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class and EQS even more effectively.
While the i7 is the biggest news of this new lineup and the most powerful variant, BMW sees it as just another powertrain, just like the second generation 7’s V12 in 1986. From their standpoint, the big news is the car’s enlarged size, plusher interior and vast breadth of tech features. It’s huge: 4.8 inches longer, 1.9 inches wider 2.6 inches taller than last year. This car is more opulent than previous 7s, inside and out, and the tech ranges from hands-free driving assistance to a 31-inch, 8k rear theater screen that drops down from the ceiling.
Because of its novelty, the i7 is likely to grab all the headlines. But the gas-powered 7s are just as luxurious and far lighter. They handle better and in the V8’s case, can go slightly faster. All versions of have an even more luxurious bent than before, which helps them compare very well to the traditional opponents like the S-Class, Audi A8, Genesis G90 and Lexus LS. While pricier than the others and possessed of a too-long options list, the gas-powered 7s significantly undercut the S-Class on price while offering equivalent levels of performance, luxury and size.
There are more powertrains in global markets, but for now, combustion-powered U.S. models come only as the rear-drive six-cylinder 740i and the all-wheel drive (AWD) V8 760i xDrive. In mid-2023, a plug-in hybrid 745e (similar to the 3 and 5 Series PHEVs) will join the lineup. Both the six and the V8 get 48-volt mild hybrid assist systems both are fast, with the V8 racing to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds despite its 5,000-pound heft. They’re also satisfying to drive on twisty roads, despite this car intentionally skewing far more luxe than sport.
One of the key strengths of the 7 Series is that once you’re inside, you can’t see its grille which, depending on the color choice, can be either conventional (with chrome) or confrontational (in black). Such concerns vanish inside, a hugely roomy environment where passengers are surrounded by crystal-like details and fine materials, with optional Merino leather or Cashmere wool inserts and an airline-style reclining rear passenger seat. This cabin just feels more special than the previous 7’s, and the dash is dominated by big screens with beautiful graphics. Largest of all? The optional 31-inch rear theater screen.
The downside to BMW’s screens is their complexity. Even with the automaker’s excellent iDrive 8 interface, the multitude of menus’ learning curve is steep. virtually all of the controls are also now on touchscreens, even the seat heaters, and using the theater screen totally blocks the driver’s rear view. BMW also offers world-class driver-assist gear, though you have to pay a little extra to get all of it. Despite those foibles, BMW has crafted its most luxurious 7 Series ever and the most versatile model in this class without sacrificing too much of its core sports sedan DNA.
BMW’s curve display dominates the 7’s huge dashboard, but the light-up crystalline strip down the middle also houses some of the many touch controls. Alex Kwanten
For now there are three ways to get your 7 Series, the rear-wheel drive six-cylinder 740i, the AWD V8 760i xDrive, and the electric, AWD i7. The i7 might be the most luxurious, but if you’re after pure driving enjoyment, the gas versions might be the better option. While the i7 has a deep well of smooth, turbine-like thrust and more grip than Andre the Giant, it’s also very heavy. Drive only the i7 and you’ll never know, but step behind the wheel of the 760i after driving the electric version and you’ll immediately notice how much lighter on its feet the gas model is.
The base 740i uses the same “B58” turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six as cars like the M440i and 540i, and drives the rear wheels only. Making 375 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque as well as a sonorous exhaust note, it’s an excellent engine. It’s also pretty quick considering that this is a 4,594-pound luxury sedan the size of a Mercury Grand Marquis. BMW says it will hustle to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Stepping up to the 760i xDrive nets you AWD grip and the 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 making 536 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Both the six and V8 use an eight-speed automatic transmission, and both come with 48-volt mild hybrid systems built in. The V8 weighs a hefty 4,969 pounds, but that’s still nearly 1,000 pounds less than the i7. Use the hybrid boost and it will rocket to 60 mph from a standing start in just over 4 seconds. We verified it.
This is a long-wheelbase luxury limo, and while you can’t expect such a car to be as dynamic as an M3, the 760i xDrive feels athletic and closer to a sports sedan than the quieter, heavier i7. Hustling the V8 along the same roads where we’ve tested the M440i, M240i and X1 (among others) the new 7’s mass was apparent but it was eager to carve corners and forgiving of drivers who might push a little too hard. Rear wheel steering and the standard adaptive air suspension help with both agility and maneuverability.
Most cars in this class are meant to be ridden in, but with the 7 the driver’s seat is also a good one.
Fuel Economy: 14/15
While you can’t expect great gas mileage from anything this large, the new 7 Series is surprisingly frugal for a car of this type. Also, while the i7 slightly lags some of its electric competitors in range and charging, the gas 7 dominates its rivals, including Lexus’ hybrid LS 500h.
The 740i nets 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and a combined figure of 27 mpg. That’s way ahead of this car’s six-cylinder competitors. The Merdedes-Benz S500 returns 23 mpg combined, the A8L 22 and the Genesis G90 20 or 21 mpg combined depending on the configuration. Even the Lexus LS 500h only returns 25 mpg combined.
The V8 760i xDrive returns 18 mpg city, 26 highway and 21 mpg combined, but here again this is tops among V8 competitors. Mercedes’ S580 4Matic returns 16 mpg city, 25 highway and 19 mpg combined while Audi’s S8 returns 18 mpg combined and just 15 around town. BMW’s V8 is about even on fuel consumption with Genesis and Lexus’s V6 models, but has more power.
Safety & Driver Assistance Tech: 12/15
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor have yet tested the 7 Series, but the same is true of all of its direct 2023 model-year competitors. Many vehicles this expensive are never tested by these agencies, which costs them some points in our data. Even without such data, the 7 Series’ crash structure is extremely robust, and its active-safety systems are truly world-class. This car is also a distant relative of the 5 Series, which earns a Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS.
Unfortunately, not all of the 7 Series’ driver-assist goodies are standard, although the basics like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlamps, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warnings are. The full suite requires adding a $2,100 Driving Assistance Professional package. On paper, this only includes two systems: Active Driving Assistant Pro and Highway Assistant, many systems are layered within.
In concert, they provide adaptive cruise with a pretty seamless Level 2, largely hands-free experience, at least on the highway. It can also do hands-free lane changes, though they can feel somewhat abrupt. Highway Assistant does a good job even if it’s not as smooth as GM’s Super Cruise and disengages pretty quickly when the road lines are not well marked, but BMW is already working on a Lidar-based Level 3 system, which might be added via over-the-air updates when it is ready and legal.
With more than 43 inches of rear-seat legroom, the 7 Series is more than accommodating. There’s also a little more room (half an inch) in the gas versions than in the i7. Alex Kwanten
Comfort & Room: 15/15
All U.S.-market 7 Series sedans have been long-wheelbase models for years, but now even all the international versions come only that way, and BMW has optimized the car for limousine comfort. Rear leg and headroom are stupendous, especially with the electric rear seat packages that allow you to push the front passenger seat forward, and drop down a footrest.
The gas 7 Series offers 43.3 inches of rear legroom. That’s a half inch more than the i7 and much more than the G90 (37.8) but just shy of the S 580 (43.8) and A8 (44.3). You’d never know by feel, however, as it’s hard to imagine who doesn’t play Center for the Houston Rockets being cramped back there. The seats are hard to fault in either row, and the front chairs are particularly cosseting while holding on during hard cornering equally well. There are also massage, heating and (optional) ventilation functions as well as a wide range of adjustments.
As in the iX SUV, i7 drivers are greeted by a massive curved display that integrates a 12.3-inch driver’s screen with a 14.9-inch infotainment display running BMW’s iDrive 8 system. This system gets lots of points for its comprehensiveness, with more than 40 apps and gorgeous graphics, but it also loses points for sheer complexity.
Everything in the 7 is done via touchscreens, steering wheel controls or voice commands. The i7’s electric competitors and the S-Class are similar, but there’s just a whole lot going on here. The same operating system works great on the new-for-2023 X1 because there are just fewer menus and features to learn.
Using the 7’s seat heaters and ventilators requires at least two swipes while the car is in motion. It’s clunky and slow to change screens, and it’s at its worst when you change driving modes. It flicks from whatever screen you were using to a photograph telling you you’ve changed into Sport mode (or whatever) and then simply forgets to change back. The system has a steep learning curve but iDrive 8’s personal assistant is always at your beck and call. Simply say “hey BMW” and it’ll ask you for a command or question—most of the time it’ll get the right answer.
It also just doesn’t get any better than the 7 Series’ theater screen, a 31.3-inch, 8k display that spreads across behind the front-seat headrests. It’s astonishing in both quality and size. The only downsides are that it might be too big to focus on (though you can adjust the display size) and that it totally blocks the driver’s rear view when in use.
The 13.7 cubic-foot trunk is small relative to the overall size of the car but in this class, it’s surprisingly above average. Alex Kwanten
Cargo Space & Storage: 13/15
The big 7 has 13.7 cubic feet of luggage capacity in the trunk, but don’t expect any more than that because the rear seats don’t fold down. That’s not unusual in this class and the S-Class’ rear seats don’t fold either. While many people will be chauffeured to an airport in one of these, it isn’t meant for SUV practicality. The Gas 7 also has an advantage over the i7 here, which only has 11.4 cubes thanks to all of the electric hardware sitting beneath.
Considering the size of the doors, the pockets aren’t huge, but they are very useful. The center console bin is tiny, but that’s at least more understandable in a car with a big driveshaft down the center than in the i7 with its flat, battery-packed floor. Rear seat occupants also have the fold-down center console or a full-time version with the electric seat option.
Style & Design: 8/10
Modern BMWs are never far from design controversy, but while the 7 isn’t pretty in the way the G90 is, it’s an impressive and imposing machine. Stately and staid by Munich’s standards, it’s probably the most conservatively-styled 7 since the radical 2001 redesign led by former design boss Chris Bangle. It’s absolutely huge at 212.2 inches long, but the proportions make it look smaller than the previous model from a distance, and it does not look bulky.
The M Sport blackout trim is an acquired taste and makes the already-huge grille look both larger and (in low light) sometimes indistinct, but that’s in the eye of the beholder.
It is sumptuous inside, with an emphasis on sheer luxury and comfort at every turn. And it shows. The cabin is filled with lovely details and pretty ambient lighting, though some surfaces are reflection-prone. A panoramic roof with LEDs embedded into it is standard and gorgeous at night, and there are new fabrics and materials, including the cashmere blend (not available on the 740i and $6,450 option on the 760i). It feels more luxurious than any standard cloth and looks like it too. As it should, the 7 also feels built like a tank, unlikely to rattle and devoid of cheap plastic bits.
From the aerodynamically-optimized rear, the new 7 Series looks square, imposing and conservative. Whatever your opinion of the grille, it has an unmistakable presence. Alex Kwanten
Is the 2023 BMW 7 Series Worth it? Which 7 Series Model is the Best Value?
BMW has lifted the 7 Series so far up from its predecessor that even the baseline 740i, with the six-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine, is going to deliver all the speed a 7 Series buyer would need and all the smoothness and character. At $94,295 to start the 740i is by far the least expensive of the new 7s and it also gets the best fuel economy of any large, gas-powered luxo-barge. Rear-wheel drive might be a dealbreaker for some, but the lighter weight and rear-drive setup also have handling benefits for keen drivers.
The lower price also leaves more room for options, and at BMW the list is always lengthy. We’d skip the M Sport look, but there are wheel and tire options, interior choices of extended Merino leather ($1,850) and full Merino ($7,300), the $2,100 driving assistance package, the luxury rear-seating package with the reclining seat ($3,000), two-tone paint ($12,000), ventilated front seats ($500), the Theater Screen ($4,700) and so on.
Stepping up to the 760i xDrive means a big jump in price, to $114,595 (both prices include a $995 destination fee), but the options set is similar (and similar in price). That’s still a bit less than the i7 ($120,295), however.
With the exception of the Mercedes-Benz S 500, all of the 7’s six-cylinder competitors cost less, but fewer are as opulent. The V8 760i also costs less than Audi’s S8 or the six-cylinder S 500, so from that perspective there’s definitely added value. There’s no doubt BMW has gone toe-to-toe with the S-Class for too long now and it’s about time it landed some solid punches. And, finally, it has.
How Much Does it Cost to Insure the BMW 7 Series?
The 7 Series is not a cheap car to buy or insure. According to our data, a typical 30-year-old female driver with a clean record can expect an average annual premium of $5,028 for the V8 but only $4,042 for the six-cylinder 740i, though this averages all 50 states. That compares to $5,220 for the Audi A8, $5,285 for the Mercedes-Benz S 580, $3,820 for the Genesis G90 and $4,084 for the Lexus LS. To get a more accurate picture of your potential insurance expenses, visit our car insurance calculator.
Forbes Wheels author Michael Taylor contributed to this review.