Car Reviews

BMW updates the 7-Series sedan line for 2020; plug-in hybrid model added

The BMW 7 series is updated for 2020 (European model shown). BMW

For 2020, BMW introduces the revised version of the 7 Series luxury sedan with extensive updates in design, technology and powertrain for the sixth generation.

A new six-cylinder plug-in hybrid joins turbocharged six-, eight- and 12-cylinder engines. The iDrive 7 system along with Mobileye interior camera and available Driving Assistant Pro ($1,700) are BMW’s latest technology contributions toward self-driving cars.

Driving Assistance Pro includes Extended Traffic Jam Assistance (limited access highways), Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with side-collision avoidance, Steering and Traffic Jam Assistant, Automatic Lane Change, Evasion Assistant and Cross-traffic Front Alert.

Design updates touch almost every area of the body, including the front bumper, hood, headlights, front fenders, rear bumper trim and rear lights.

The 7-Series offers six models: fuel-injection models include 740i RWD, $86,450; 740i xDrive, $89,450; and 750i xDrive, $102,650; performance model M 760i xDrive, $157,700; Alpina B7 xDrive, $142,800; and plug-in hybrid 745e xDrive, $95,550.


Alpina is an automotive manufacturing company in Germany that works with BMW, integrating its process into BMW’s production lines, developing high-performance versions of BMW cars. B7 is produced on the same assembly line as the BMW 7-Series, with the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 assembled by hand at Alpina’s German facility, shipped to BMW for installation and sent back to Alpina for finishing touches.

Luxury meets sustainability in the 745e xDrive, the model I drove, with a specially adapted six-cylinder engine (maximum output 280 horsepower), an integrated electric motor (113 horsepower, 195 foot-pounds of torque) and a new lithium-ion battery (stored under the floor) with the latest cell technology and increased capacity.


The 745e has all the luxury sedan’s essence, combined with high efficiency and the ability to offer a virtually silent, all-electric driving experience with zero emissions and improved electric range. The hybrid system has an EPA combined electric and gasoline rating of 56 miles per gallon and a gasoline only rating of 22 miles per gallon.

With the Driving Experience Control switch in Sport mode, the duo can reach a combined output of 389 horsepower and maximum combined torque of up to 442 foot-pounds. A hybrid-specific eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission incorporates the electric motor and an improved clutch acts as a link to the engine.


Extensive refreshing in the front conveys a more-powerful visual presence, with expanded surfacing — two inches taller at the highest point. The dominant BMW kidney grille is now framed by a single-piece surround with 40 percent more surface area.

Adjustable vanes (black in the M Sport package on my 745e) between the aluminum satin grille bars open when needed for cooling.

New slender Icon Adaptive Full LED headlights contrasted with the larger grille and included distinctive blue BMW Laserlight on my 745e ($1,000). The light sources have an unmistakable geometric design and the lenses spread in a unique X shape. The lights turn with the wheels to illuminate around corners and turns.


The redesigned hood has prominent flat-top contour lines extending from the top of the grille to the trailing edge. Lower front bumper air intakes now have large air deflectors to guide oncoming air over the brake air ducts.

Air curtain/air breathers, with dramatic L-shaped trim strips extending along the lower door edge from a large opening behind the front wheel well, minimize turbulence around wheel openings.

Recognizable hallmark BMW design cues include precisely drawn character lines, a long wheelbase and short overhangs, a flowing roof line and the Hofmeister kink — a low forward bend at the C-pillars.

Slimmer, L-shaped 3-D LED tail lights are connected by a very slim light strip (0.2 inches) across the full width of the tailgate, creating a discrete illumination when the daytime driving lights are in operation and a distinctive design at night. Tailpipe surrounds are now wider, Cerium Gray on my 745e.


Several exterior paint colors are available, including the new Bernina Gray Amber Effect metallic, Royal Burgundy Red metallic and Donington Gray metallic (my 745e) — exclusively in the M Sport package ($3,400) along with an M Sport steering wheel, Anthrocite headliner, M illuminated door sills, M pedals and footrest, 20-inch wheels (five split spokes, silver face, dark pockets), specific aerodynamics, Shadowline exterior trim (dark chrome) and choice of interior trim.

My 745e had Ivory White and Black Nappa leather upholstery with extended appointments, a distinctive quilt pattern and M piping. Interesting exterior color choices include Cashmere Silver metallic (silver/beige), Imperial Blue metallic (nearly black) and Aventurine Red metallic (sangria).


As the driver approaches the vehicle, a Welcome Light Carpet illuminates the ground on both sides (the light source is on the underbody of the vehicle). Inside, generous space, carefully selected materials, coordinated design details and exclusive workmanship create a luxurious ambiance.

Interior trim and styling can be individualized with new exclusive fine woods with metal or high-gloss inlay. My 745e had Ash Grain Black and Red wood ($1,080), even on the rear console and pillars beside the rear seats.

The redesigned leather steering wheel featured a chrome trim element and modified layout of the multifunction buttons. The button for the heating system is now below the air-bag housing. The updated interior included improvement of the infotainment system with iDrive 7.

Ambient LED lighting in the vicinity of the instrument panel, upper door trim, map pockets on the front seat backs and foot wells gave the cabin a posh feel. Using the iDrive 7system, occupants could choose from six colors.

Most interestingly, an ambient lighting feature on the rear door frame at the B-pillar combined with the power rear window shades and power rear sunshade (Premium Package, $3,000) to create an atmospheric lighting effect in the rear. When deactivated, the vertical light source blends in with a high-quality smoked-glass look. The Premium Package also included a head-up display.

An Executive Package ($2,500) brought a panoramic sky lounge LED roof with hundreds of embedded light sources, adding to the atmospheric lighting effect. The package added front ventilated seats, contrast-stitched Nappa leather on the instrument panel and ceramic controls. Ceramic controls replace standard plastic or chrome controls with real ceramic versions with a black glazed finish for an even more luxurious look and feel.

A Luxury Rear Seating Package ($3,900) added rear ventilated comfort seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear heated seats and armrests, rear massage seats and a removable seven-inch Samsung Touch Command Tablet mounted in the armrest.

The power comfort seats recline, slide fore and aft, raise up and lower, and have lumbar and adjustable shoulder support. The tablet has a Wi-Fi connection to the vehicle and can be used to control infotainment/navigation/online/communication and comfort (seat adjustment, interior lighting, climate) functions, as well as play external audio and video files. The tablet can be left secured in its holder or removed and used from any seat or even outside the vehicle.

The tablet can be used to control the Rear Entertainment system ($2,700) with two 10-inch HD displays with touch-screen functionality and angle adjustment, Blu-ray player and two wireless headphones with hard storage cases.

Adding to the luxury in the rear, passengers had an amazing 44.4 inches of legroom. Thanks to a longer wheelbase, front passengers also had massive legroom at 41.1 inches.

A standard wireless charging pad was conveniently located at the junction of the center stack and the center console.

New Automatic Parking searches parking options before reaching a destination; Active Driving Assistant includes Collision and Pedestrian/Cyclist Warning with City Braking, Lane Departure Warning Blind Spot Detection, Speed Limit info system, Rear Collision Preparation and Cross Traffic.

Automatic Parking Assistant Plus with surround-view cameras with 3-D view and Active Park Distance Control helps maneuver into either parallel or perpendicular parking spaces, controlling acceleration, braking, steering and gearing. It also has Back-Up Assistant, which helps exit parking spots by following the stored steering pattern from the vehicle’s last forward movement.

An optional Driving Assistance Professional package ($1,700) added Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with side-collision avoidance, Steering and Traffic Jam Assistant, Automatic Lane Change and Evasion Assistant and Cross Traffic alert.

Intelligent Personal Assistant is a digital helper which responds to verbal prompts to control functions such as temperature, lighting mood, music and navigation (BMW, take me home) and even answer questions such as “Is the oil level okay?” or “How far can I drive before I need to refuel?”

My 745e had a Bowers and Wilkins Sound system ($3,400), M Sport brakes ($650) and soft-close automatic doors (extra elegant).

Options totaling $23,330 and destination charges of $995 brought the delivered price of my very attractive, very comfortable, luxurious BMW 745e to $119,875.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on