The entire BMW 7-Series lineup of sedans carries into 2012 with no significant changes. Last year, BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system was offered for the first time in the 7-Series, on the 750i and 750Li models, and 6-cylinder engines came back to the 7-Series in the new 740i and 740iL. 2012 also marked the comeback of the high-performance Alpina B7.
The 2012 BMW 7-Series is available in a wide range of models--and in two different sedan body styles. Models designated with an 'L' get five inches of additional wheelbase, most of which goes to additional back-seat legroom.
740i and 740Li models get a 315-horsepower, 3.0L in-line 6-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The all-aluminum engine has twin turbochargers, variable-cam technology and direct injection, which help the engine produce strong torque output at low revs--a full 330 pound-feet from 1,600 rpm. BMW 750i and 750Li models make 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft. When equipped with the available all-wheel drive system (called 750i xDrive)--which helps improve on-the-road traction and stability and normally sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels--the 7-Series can get to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, according to BMW. At the top of the lineup is the flagship 760Li, with a V12 engine making 535 horsepower, running through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Two other models cater to very specific crowds, radically different from each other. The Alpina B7 gets a special 500-hp, twin-turbo version of the V8, huge 21-inch wheels, and Dynamic Damping Control with Active Roll Stabilization, an adjustable suspension system designed to bring the handling benefits of a high-performance sedan without the harsh ride. There's also an ActiveHybrid 7 model that combines a 4.4L twin-turbo V8, 8-speed automatic transmission, and electric motor system with lithium-ion battery technology, enabling zero to 60 in just 4.7 seconds while capable of achieving an EPA 17 mpg city, 24 highway.
All 7-Series models come with a Brake Energy Regeneration system that helps save energy by managing the alternator to charge more when coasting or braking.
The 7-Series also has a host of electronics that not only help increase safety and stability but help the 7-Series drive like a smaller sedan. xDrive models also come with Hill Descent Control, which can help keep speed within a set speed between 6 and 15 mph on very steep, slippery (snow-covered or icy) inclines. There's also an Integrated Chassis Management system that individually applies the brakes and throttle individually and helps xDrive-equipped cars handle better. All 7-Series models come with an excellent double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, bringing a very responsive feel without ignoring ride comfort. Long-wheelbase (740Li and 750Li) versions come with a self-leveling air spring system for heavier loads, and back-seat space in those vehicles is vast. The front seats in all 7-Series models are firm but long-distance comfortable, and very adjustable.
Electronic Damping Control, which gives the driver a choice of Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes, also comes with all 7-Series models. It controls the attitude of the electronic stability control system, along with throttle responsiveness, shift behavior and steering assist. The optional Integral Active Steering system adds even more responsiveness, by actually steering the rear wheels (less at higher speeds) to help with maneuverability up to about 75 mph.
Available high-tech features in the 7-Series include swiveling adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a head-up display, Active Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Detection. A Night Vision system is also on the options list. And for those who prefer to have others do the driving, there's a Luxury Rear Seating Package that brings rear ventilated seats with massage.