2017 BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance
Efficiency and Luxury Can Be Strange Bedfellows2 Comments
The 740e is an odd one. It's quick with the combined power output, but the car isn't exactly fun to drive. Without the electric motor, the 2.0-liter four is overworked for such a heavy car, and the handling leaves something to be desired. We get that you can't slot an inline-six into this for a plug-in hybrid because that makes no sense, but the 4-cylinder is just too weak to hold its own. We might forgive the dearth of gas-only power if the steering was better. If you want supreme efficiency in EV mode, you have to totally sacrifice any desire to move at a modicum of speed. In this mode, it's simply painful to drive. Its only salve is to drive the car in Sport or Sport+ mode to make it more engaging, but then that defeats the purpose of spending the extra money for some pie-in-the-sky efficiency.
Ride Quality: The ride is very comfortable, and the 740e absorbs the bumps very well. It's a super-comfy long-haul cruiser.
Acceleration: 5.2 seconds to 60 mph with both engines is pretty quick. But separate the two, and you'll be doggin' it.
Braking: Good, strong brakes, but the pedal feels a bit on the mushy side.
Steering: Steering is on the light side and lacks feedback.
Handling: This is BMW's heaveist car, and it shows. There's some body roll, and you feel the weight going into the turns. The regular 740i manages its lighter curb weight much better.
BMW's system has evolved extremely well over the years, and the current iDrive 5.0 is appropriate for this price point. It's easy to navigate and view, and the look is more sophisticated and futuristic than the versions from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and (easily) Lexus and Cadillac. We loved the clean look of the 12.3' Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster, as well.
Infotainment System: BMW's big 10.2' screen is vivid, beautiful and easy to navigate. Fantastic graphics and resolution make the iDrive 5.0 system a pleasure to view.
Controls: The touchpad Controller and 7 programmable memory buttons make quick work of navigation. The action of the main knob and button are the best in the business.
Bluetooth Pairing: Initial pairing with our iPhone 6s Plus was a bit frustrating, but it worked fine after that. Music streaming had some minor issues, as well.
Voice Call Quality: Excellent on both ends. No transmission or clarity issues.
Chris Bangle style is long gone from the 7-Series, and that's a very good thing. The 7-Series is a beautiful car to behold, whether it has 4, 6 or 8 or 12 cylinders. Frankly, there isn't a bad angle on the car, and it does a fine job of conveying both sportiness and elegance. Too bad the 740e isn't exactly sporty.
Front: The massive kidney grilles and flanking headlights take up most of the fascia, but it's a good look. The maw has some serious presence.
Rear: The taillights are connected by a thin, tasteful chrome bar that adds sophistication. And as much as we like round tailipies, these ellipsoid versions that are set into the lower rear fascia work for this price point.
Profile: The 740e has a graceful profile, only interrupted by the hockey-stick fender vent and the charging port door.
Cabin: Everything looks and feels rich. The gray poplar wood trim isn't matte the way we like, but it looks and feels premium. We love BMW cabins, and the 740e is exceptional in its execution.
The cabin of the 740e is its strongest suit thanks to wide open spaces, premium materials and excellent styling. Six figures is a high price to pay, but when it comes to the 740e's interior, its commensurate with the sticker. We loved every minute sitting in this premium sedan, and BMW hasn't scrimped one bit. Everything looks and feels wonderful. If this is what retirement is supposed to look like, sign us up. By then, we won't care as much about nailing apexes.
Front Seats: The multi-contour seats are superb. Excellent support, bolstering and adjustment versatility. We love BMW's thigh bolsters, too.
Rear Seats: In a word, cavernous. Passengers will have no issues the the comfort, legroom and headroom. It's a limousine, bascially.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Supremely quiet and well made. The only intrusion is the occasional overworking of the 4-cylinder engine in this heavy beast.
Visibility: Excellent visibility all around. The driving position is very good.
Climate: The 740e's four-zone automatic climate control works incredibly well, and the heated/ventilated seats are great.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHSTA has crash tested the current 7, largely because it's a low-volume seller, and both entities test based on widely popular models. That being said, BMW has always been at the forefront of safety and offers a wide berth of standard and optional features to protect driver and passengers.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The set includes front side airbags, rear-seat side airbags, knee airbags, and front-seat active head restraints, as well as new Adaptive Headlamps, a rearview camera, and parking sensors. The 740e also has the excellent xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Optional Tech: It's a comprehensive list that includes side and top view cameras, blind spot detection, daytime pedestrian detection, front collision warning with City Collision Mitigation, lane departure warning, Active Driving Assistant Plus, Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane Assist with Side Collision Avoidance and Traffic Jam Assistant.
The big Bimmer is spacious inside, and all storage areas are easy to access and well placed. We just thought there'd be a bit more room for gear stowage. The trunk is also very limiting.
Storage Space: We love the sliding door that covers the center stack storage, USB port, and the cupholders. Easy to access and well-placed. The armrest is limited by the wireless charging dock.
Cargo Room: The 740e's battery takes up a ton of trunk space, making the normally cavernous 18 cubic feet in the standard 7 drop to a mediocre 15. Say goodbye to packing away thicker items.
We didn't get to test the full electric-only range in EV mode, but the 740e is supposed to get 28 miles of range when fully charged. Once our electric charge was pretty much gone, we experienced less-than-stellar gas mileage from the 4-banger, probably due to the hefty weight of the car. We don't see why anyone would opt for this version of the 7-Series, especially since it seems to provide no real advantage when you compare the price premium over the gas-only car.
Observed: 21.8 mpg over the course of seven days of driving in both suburban and highway driving.
Driving Factors: We mostly drove the car in Sport+ mode for snappier acceleration and never fully charged up the vehicle after it arrived at our door. No doubt, more conservative drivers will see better mileage.
We fell in love with the Harman Kardon premium audio system that's full, crisp and loud without any hint of distortion (we didn't play death metal, though). It's one of the best systems we've come across, and it was a pleasure to listen to with virtually all types of music.
Final Thoughts Though we know this luxury hybrid car exists for market share reasons, it's a bit of a puzzlement to us. It tries to take a fast and luxe sedan and make it efficient, which it actually fails at. Our guess is that you can squeeze out efficiency if your driving habits are very conservative and if you mate it all with navigation to make the best engine usage choices for you. The other problem exists when it comes to driving fun, a BMW trademark. It's quick in a straight line with combined power but is a bit of a dog with just gas running the show. It's only strong suits are its luxuriousness, space, and style. Aside from that, you should really spend less and get the regular 740i.
No one who has this kind of money (six figures, optioned out) cares much about the environment or even the perception of being environmentally conscious. They want badge cred, comfort, driving thrills, etc. What makes a bit of sense with the 330e doesn't carry over to a much bigger, much heavier and way more expensive Bimmer.