The 2013 BMW 7 Series doesn’t look that different from the previous year’s cars. In fact, even if you have a keen eye, the most you’ll likely be able to distinguish as new is the car’s front bumper, now with more chrome and a slightly different design, and nine slats per kidney on the grille versus the 2012 model’s 12 each.
But fending off flagship rivals is a tough business, and BMW needed to upgrade its full-size sedan that’s been on sale since the 2009 model year to keep ahead of the curve. The 2013 7 Series looks to do just that.
Following suit from the just-introduced 2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, the six-cylinder 740i and 740Li will be available with a 315-horsepower engine, up 15 horsepower from 2012 models; V-8-powered 750i and 750Li models will get a 45-horsepower bump to 445 horsepower total. And the 535-horsepower top-range 6.0-liter V-12 will carryover unchanged.
Also new for 2013, the 750i and Li will be replacing their six-speed automatic transmissions in favor of eight-speed units, helping boost efficiency. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive will also become available for the first time on the 740i and Li, broadening the sedan’s appeal in a market often dominated by 4Matic Mercedes-Benzes and quattro Audi A8s. The ActiveHybrid 7 will be ditching its V-8 in favor of a 3.0-liter inline-6, which when combined with its electric motor, will be able to produce 349 horsepower, hit 60 mph from standstill in a brief 5.5 seconds, and likely deliver as much as 14 percent greater fuel efficiency versus the 2012 model’s 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway. It’ll only be available for 2013 in long-wheelbase form–a departure from the 2012 model.
But a few engine upgrades can only get the 7 Series so far, so BMW has changed up the car’s interior detailing and technology. For the first time, all models will receive a rear air suspension setup, which was previously only available on long-wheelbase models. Additionally, BMW will make a new Dynamic Damper Control system available, which will allow the car to adjust its shock absorbers to individually work with different levels of firmness, giving the car a smoother ride over any surface.
Furthering engine technology, six- and eight-cylinder models will also get auto start-stop, allowing them to be more efficient in city driving. EPA estimates for fuel economy are not yet available, but BMW expects them to be 20- to 25-percent more frugal. As for V-12 engines, if you’re buying a V-12 car, you’re probably not too caught up with saving a little gas. You get full power all the time. And your full power will be used at will as you laugh at the masses who may never have the chance to experience something so awesome as a V-12.
As for things that are powered by electricity and will likely impress your friends, look no further than the now-standard Adaptive Xenon headlights on the 7 Series and available full-LED headlights, which will come standard on the 760Li. They’re bright. They’re efficient. And they look really cool. But they’re a very small part of the 2013 7 Series’ upgrades, which also include simulated floating rear iDrive monitors, when so-equipped; an available high-dollar Bang & Olufsen stereo; a 3D display for the navigation system; a points of interest menu for the navigation; and more sound deadening so passengers can better hear themselves speak into the car’s ConnectedDrive voice-command system.
BMW says 7 Series owners have a yearly net income of more than $200,000 on average. And all told, they’ve purchased more than 36,000 of the current-generation cars. They’re the type that pays attention to details and expects as much innovation as they do quality. And BMW thinks its heavily upgraded 7 Series, while not much different on the outside, has plenty of what it takes on the inside to get them to notice and come back for more when it goes on sale at the end of this summer.