The 2018 BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance is the plug-in hybrid variant of BMW’s flagship sedan. Rather than using an inline-six, V8 or V12 like past 7 Series, the 740e mates a potent turbocharged inline-four with an electric motor.
This test car (actually two, we drove the 740e in both Detroit and Seattle), was fairly light on options. The $400 cold weather package added heated seats both front and rear as well as a heated steering wheel. We also had the $1,700 driving assistance package, the $700 parking assistance package and the $900 panoramic sky LED roof. All in, the car stickered for about $100,000.
Managing Editor Greg Rasa: The big BMW arrived on the same day as houseguests, so we did what we always do with visitors — took them to see the Bothell crows. One of the nation’s largest colonies of Corvidae, they call the University of Washington-Bothell home and have inspired UW research and several books.
Inside the 740e, things were much more serene. It has acres of legroom for chauffeuring passengers around in a large lap of luxury. This car is more than 17 feet long and weighs 4,740 pounds, but it doesn’t look big — maybe it just seems small behind its enormous kidney grille. And it doesn’t drive big. The ride is quiet and luxurious, though Sport mode firms things up considerably. Its twin-turbo 2.0-liter four and electric motor combine for 322 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
BMW’s gesture controls are still more of a distraction than just using the control-controls. Why twirl your finger when the radio knob is right there?
The lane-keeping technology literally fought me for the wheel, one of the most insistent/obnoxious systems out there. And the adaptive cruise was slow to react when a car moved into the lane ahead. It bears repeating: Don’t trust these technologies, not from any automaker. Watch them like a hawk. Or a crow.
Associate Editor Reese Counts: I dig the 7 Series in all its forms. It’s hard not to love a big, comfy, well-appointed luxury yacht, especially one that has a silent running mode like this one. Being able to cruise along in near silence is one of those things about EVs and PHEVs that I don’t believe gets enough attention. Sure, I love the sound of a burly V8 or screaming V12, but sometimes I just want to sit, relax and listen to music or a podcast on my commute home..
Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: I was skeptical of BMW’s decision to put the four-cylinder in the 7 Series, but after driving it, the combination between it and the potent electric motor makes for a sneakily quick car. Not only does it feel fast, but the electric motor fills the gap between throttle stabs and boost buildup nicely.
Some parts of the driving experience were peculiarly clunky. When using the auto-hold feature in traffic, there’s a noticeable click felt through the pedal every time it engages. The regenerative brakes themselves are some of the worst I’ve felt in hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles too. I never quite got it down due to the spongy feel and inconsistency in braking pressure applied.