The luxury sedan market is flush with wondrous vehicles. They’re machines whose craftsmanship and performance further define the pleasures of driving even to enthusiasts who don’t need persuading. With the addition of the 2018 BMW 740e, German manufacturers continue to expand their reign of the segment. Mercedes-Benz has the S-Class and there’s the Audi A8. The 740e xDrive performance gives BMW its most extensive list of powertrains. The plug- in hybrid, rated at 27 miles per gallon in gas-only mode, and 64 miles per gallon with the combined electric and gas methods considered, has the same overall qualities BMW enthusiasts appreciate. It’s comfortable and quiet, and it’s constructed with superior-class materials and a finish carpenter’s touch. Even as a hybrid, the BMW 740e scoots down the road with authority. Like its siblings, the new BMW is at its best on the open road, let’s say the German autobahn. The driving dynamics—maneuvering through traffic and omni-present performance—define the carmaker. Put the heavy sedan (4,970 pounds) on cruise control, let the other motorists get their crazies out, and power along in peace. Two model years ago,
BMW redesigned the 7 Series, adding a longer wheelbase and longer doors among standard features. A turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with an electric motor produces a combined 322 horsepower in the hybrid. And it’s available only with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission with sport and manual shift modes. Paddle shifters are located on the steering wheel.
Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the electric motor can be charged via a supplied 120-volt power cord in about seven hours. Commercial fast charges are an option with a 240-volt cable and then onboard 3.7kW charger. Fuel and battery efficiency are assisted by a stop-start engine feature and brake regeneration. The electric-only driving range is a bleak 14 miles. Technology is plentiful: a 10.2-inch infotainment screen with navigation and BMW’s iDrive, a touchpad controller with gesture control, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, a wireless Qi charging station, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. There’s little not to like about BMW’s luxury sedan—with one caveat. As much as sturdiness and performance define the brand, so does price. Buyers pay for what they get. If significant high- way treks or long hauls across Europe are routine, great. If spending six figures on a car isn’t a concern, terrific. The BMW luxury hybrid is ideal.
But if you’re reluctant to shell out major bucks to get you to and from the office, the 740e may be too much car for too much money.
James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website theweeklydriver.com.