2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive Review
Grandpa's got a green thumb.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: June 5th, 2015
The BMW 7 Series is a long-standing pillar of the full-size luxury sedan segment. Over the years, its looks have gone from "built for the Russian Mafia" to ... okay, that's where the look still lies. But in the seven years since the latest 7er debuted, it's seen several important competitors receive several amazing refreshes, including the Jaguar XJ and the venerable Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We're about a year away from a properly new 7 Series, but the brand still has a trick or two up its sleeve to give this old dog some new tricks.
The new trick you're reading about today is a diesel powerplant, one that's been doing duty in several other Bimmer models for a while now. So did BMW's gambit of taking two good things, putting them together, and hoping that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, pay off?
You're damn right it did.
No bones about it; this is one nice interior. Sure, the S-Class's interior goes way harder in terms of material choice and styling, but there's something to be said about a properly subdued look. Consider this the Old Money to the S-Class's New Money. Old Money doesn't discuss financial matters outside the home. New Money puts up Instagram pictures of stacks of $100 bills with some dumb hashtag, like #TypicalMonday.
Most pieces of the 740Ld's interior emphasize the sheer width from door card to door card. Most every line you see has movement along the horizontal axis; even the most obvious vertical lines (especially around the center stack) have some lateral expansion. It makes the car feel even wider than it actually is.
Even though the vehicle is seven years old, it still feels very fresh, technologically speaking. The gauges are screens, with a few physical elements to give you that throwback feeling (some small things, like the shape of the steering wheel and the gauge arrangement, hearken back to the days of the E38 7 Series). The only piece that feels out of place is the shifter, which, while gorgeous (especially with the $650 Ceramic Controls option), juts forth from the transmission tunnel like a caricature of a normal shifter. It's still leagues better than Mercedes's dinky column shifter, though, that's for damn sure.
However, this tried-and-true method of interior design, while a breath of fresh air in comparison to some over-styled models, means that the car looks just a bit long in the tooth.
The L in the 740Ld means that this is the long-wheelbase variant of the standard 7 Series, and that expanded wheelbase is immediately noticed when plopping down in the rear seats. It seems like the legroom never ends, even with the front seats in NBA position. It was hard convincing us to actually drive the car, rather than sitting in the back, barking orders to a driver that never materialized.
Our biggest issue with the interior is ergonomics. The clamshell-style center storage compartment door is capable of storing very few items beyond a cell phone or a (very) small clutch. The grab handles for the door are mounted very high, and a first-timer in the car will have zero idea where to grab. We didn't know that such a simple piece of the interior could become so needlessly complicated.
Our 7 Series came equipped with BMW's M Sport trim level, which adds a few visual elements to the car's exterior, including blacked-out window trim and some very subtle aerodynamic enhancements in the fasciae. It adds a nice bit of angularity to an otherwise smooth sedan, and we're fans of blacked-out trim on nearly every car. The look works, especially with a perfect contrast against Alpine White paint (your author's second favorite BMW paint color; Sepang Bronze will always win out).
Only on a car of this size could a 19-inch wheel look small, but here we are. You can option yourself up to 20s, but the M-Sport 19-inchers give you just a little extra tire sidewall to soak up bumps. Speaking of soaking up bumps ...
On the Road
Imagine what you think a smooth ride feels like. Now make it smoother. And smoother again. That's about where the 740Ld's ride is. It's pillow-soft, especially if you opt for the $2,500 Adaptive Drive system, which outfits the car with adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars. Bumps? They've disappeared somehow. Hell, even small potholes were no match for the Bimmer's epic suspension setup. With the vehicle left in Comfort+ (the + denotes the change in Adaptive Drive equipment; those without this option can still choose between Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro modes), you'll wonder why you'd ever drive anything else.
To be honest, you'd be smart to leave it in Comfort or Comfort+ for the length of ownership. The 740Ld's 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6 does its best work down low in the rev range, where it can tap into a wealth of torque. Downshifts from the ZF eight-speed automatic are smooth and free of drama; just stab the gas a tiny bit, and you'll be pushed by something that feels akin to a giant hand guiding you towards the top end of the speedometer. Throw the car into Sport, and it'll run way too high in the revs. It'll also change the ride from regal to Buick Regal in short order. Eco Pro mode is nice, but its slow programming of, well, everything makes you feel like you're bothering the car by going out for a drive. Seriously, just leave it in Comfort.
The biggest problem here is the stop/start system. It cuts the engine right as you're coming to a stop, making a "chauffeur stop" (where the actual stopping is practically imperceptible) quite literally impossible. Most folks being driven around in this car would be wise to ask the driver to turn stop/start off. It's far smoother coming back to life, but those clunky stops never stopped being annoying.
Make no mistake; this is a pig of a car. It weighs 4,685 pounds, and given that information, you would be perfectly justified in assuming that economy is not this car's strong suit. Yet, you'd be wrong. The diesel engine is, simply, perfect for this car. It manages to shove this iron ingot up to 60 mph in right about six seconds, which feels very quick in a car of this size.
Even better is the gas mileage; with a light foot and a concern for MPGs, exceeding the EPA-estimated economy ratings is an exercise in simplicity. We managed about 27 mpg with a mix of 25 percent highway and 75 percent city driving, which is about 7 mpg higher than we would have expected (our driving is a bit more, um, spirited than your average 7 Series owner). Anybody who buys this car for its green cred will be in for a great surprise.
All in all, the 7 Series is a great car, especially with the diesel powerplant, which costs just $1,500 more than the gas-drinking 740Li xDrive. It's sumptuous, it's pretty, it's delightfully torquey, and it's more efficient than you might think. Sure, it's getting old, and its replacement is very close to arriving in the U.S. If anything, though, that means you can score a fantastic deal in the coming months.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Power Output: 255 horsepower / 413 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city / 31 highway
Base Price: $82,500
As Tested: $92,650 (incl. $950 destination)
M Sport Package: M steering wheel, blacked-out exterior trim, exterior aerodynamic kit, shift paddles
M Sport Edition: M Sport Package, plus 19-inch alloy wheels, head-up display, top-and-side-view cameras, 20-way power seats with ventilation, leather-finished instrument panel, soft-close doors
Cold Weather Package: Heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, ski bag
Executive Package: Soft-close doors, Harman Kardon surround sound system, head-up display, massaging seats, front seat ventilation, power tailgate
Lighting Package: Adaptive full-LED headlights, automatic high beams
Luxury Rear Seating Package: Massaging rear seat, rear ventilated seats, rear comfort seats, Executive Package, Cold Weather Package
Driver Assistance Plus Package: Lane departure warning, forward collision warning, city collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot monitor, side-and-top-view cameras, speed limit info Individual Options: Rear-seat entertainment with six-disc DVD changer, Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, night vision, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active dampers with active roll bars, power rear and side sunshades, power rear sunshade, massaging front seats, ceramic controls, 20-way power seats
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 BMW 7 Series, click here: 2015 BMW 7 Series.