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Each year brings more luxury hybrids to the market, and while it faces increased competition, the BMW ActiveHybrid 740i remains one of the best.
The big 7 Series sedan sees a few significant changes for 2013. A more economical V6 engine has replaced the previous V8, and an EcoPro feature better regulates fuel economy. Also of note is a severe price cut: The 2013 ActiveHybrid 7 cuts over $16,000 from 2012's MSRP. It still costs significantly more than a non-hybrid 740Li, however.
The ActiveHybrid 7 packs a turbocharged 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine assisted by an electric motor with a lithium-ion battery pack. All told, this combination produces an impressive 350 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. While fuel economy is decent for a hybrid with this much power—22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway—it improves on a conventional 740Li's ratings by only a few miles per gallon.
The classy interior features high-end materials, all the latest technology and a premium finish. BMW's highly customizable iDrive system will take some practice to fully command; once mastered, it capably controls an abundance of features. Passengers enjoy an especially serene environment because of the hybrid engine's quiet operation. The electric motor's sizable battery pack does limit trunk space, though.
Features of the ActiveHybrid 7 include: 18-inch alloy wheels; Bluetooth; a 10-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio, iPod integration and auxiliary audio input; power-folding and heated mirrors; keyless ignition and entry; adaptive suspension dampers; adaptive xenon headlights; power tilt-and-telescoping steering; four-zone automatic climate control; LED fog lights; a sunroof; auto-dimming mirrors; heated power front seats; cruise control; driver seat memory; a rear view camera; BMW's iDrive interface; and a navigation system.
Options groups include: a Cold Weather Package with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel; an Executive Package with power-soft closing doors, a head-up display, a power trunk lid, 14-way power front seats, ventilated front seats, smartphone integration, and a premium 16-speaker audio system; the M Sport Package that features body enhancements, steering wheel shifters, an increase in the top speed and a sport steering wheel; and a Lighting Package that adds LED headlights with automatic high-beams.
And there are more packages: a Driver's Assistance Package has a lane departure system, blind-spot monitoring, side and top view cameras and a speed limit display; a rear passenger Luxury Rear Seating Package with power-adjustable and ventilated rear seats with massaging; and a Rear Entertainment Package that includes two rear display monitors, a rear iDrive control and a six-disc CD changer.
Among several stand-alone options: 19-inch wheels, automatic parallel parking system, night vision, adaptive cruise control and a premium Bang and Olusfon audio system.
Top of the line interior with all the latest technology, though the engine is sluggish in comparison
Quietest interior available with an amazingly comfortable ride, but fuel savings is quesitonable
Handles the road like a Porsche should and has several engine options, but very expensive
Cheaper option with excellent battery life wrapped up in an attractive package, but it's only available as an electric