You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but the 2018 BMW 7-Series is a leader on the road. It has it all: cutting-edge tech, luxury to spoil a prince, and a chassis package that stays true to BMW’s driver-centric core. This is a segment of heavy hitters – the 7-Series is up against traditional rivals like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8, plus offerings from luxury marques like Porsche and Maserati. The 2018 7-Series is still a compelling option, mostly because of the sheer number of things it does well.

Best Value

It feels odd to talk about value for a car whose buyers will largely sit in the back, but here we are. Most 7-Series models bear the base engine, a 3.0-liter unit producing a more-than-adequate 320 horsepower, and we think that’s a good thing. The 740e’s hybrid powertrain boosts efficiency, but not by enough to justify the 500-pound weight penalty. And while the 760i’s fire-breathing V12 is mighty, the 7-Series doesn’t seem like the type to get in drag races.

The 740i it is then, preferably with BMW’s xDrive system for all-weather capability. The car is high-tech and sumptuous from the get go – leather upholstery, Harmon Kardon audio, automatic four-zone climate control, a WiFi hotspot, and gesture control. The Cold Weather Package is a good addition (heated seats not being standard is a surprise), as is the Driving Assistance Plus Package for the full suite of safety technology. We’d call it a day at that point, but if you felt the need for more luxury you could take the money you saved and put it into either the Executive Package (if you sit in the front) or the Luxury Rear Seating Package (if you sit in the rear).

We’d build our 7-Series like so:

  • Model: 2018 BMW 740i xDrive
  • Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder
  • Output: 320 hp / 332 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy: 20 City / 29 Hwy
  • Options: Cold Weather Package ($400, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats), Driver Assistance Plus Package ($1,700, lane keeping assist, cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control), Driver Assistance Package ($1,700, head-up display, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning), Executive Package ($3,300, front ventilated seats, multi-contour seats, Nappa leather finish, ceramic controls, power rear sunshade and rear side window shades)
  • Base Price: $87,095 (including the $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $94,195

Performance


The newest generation 7-Series didn’t put all its technology in the cabin. BMW’s Carbon Core construction keeps things stiff, while shaving over 120 pounds and preserving a 50/50 weight distribution. All that adds up to a car with a sense of confidence on the road. Even the base engine will get a 740i to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which will be plenty for most drivers. The V12 will tempt those who like a little spectacle, and it drops that time to a blazing 3.6 seconds.

It’s the middle two options, the 740e and the 750i, that feel like the misfits. The 740e is a nice gesture toward efficiency, but it doesn’t go far enough in either direction. The 23-mile electric-only range is easy to squander, and true diesels and hybrids still manage better mileage overall. The 750i’s V8 is a competent engine, but it seems a little redundant – the V6 is already a solid performer, and the V8 is neither as efficient as the hybrid nor as fast as the V12.

Style

The 2018 7-Series is elegant, but it’s more on the subdued end of the spectrum. The double-kidney grille is bigger than usual, and the beltlines wrap pleasingly around to taillights linked by chrome. The interior is where the action is – leg room fit for the NBA, fold-out tray tables, and more screens and displays than you’ll know what to do with.

Still, it’s hard to call the 7-Series flashy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it's stately enough to be likable. But in a class where half the battle is looking the part, competitors may arrive with more panache.

The Best and Worst Things

Marrying top-level comfort with driving dynamics is no easy task, and BMW does it as well as anyone. We just wish the 7-Series took a few more risks to separate itself from the pack.

Right For? Wrong For?

The 7-Series is perfect for the executive who still likes to step behind the wheel from time to time. It has all the latest tech and the interior won’t disappoint, but it’s still a blast on an ocean-view cruise.

But for those who value the image as much as the machine, the 7-Series may resonate less. It can’t quite match the dignity of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the athleticism of a Porsche Panamera. It’s as capable a machine, but it feels as though it has just a tad less identity.

The Bottom Line

BMW redefined luxury sedans by bringing driving dynamics to the forefront, and in an odd way the 2018 7-Series still carries that torch. Parts of BMW’s lineup have grown bigger and softer, but the 7-Series (which was always big) retains a sporty edge. Combined with the level of polish in the cabin, this makes it a tempting package. The competition is worth a look, but a bit of excellence hiding in plain sight lurks in the BMW 7-Series.