For the most part, the luxury sedan segment is pretty conservative. Many offerings don’t take risks or really do anything daring. BMW is here to change that. If the 2023 7 Series doesn’t slap you in the face with its styling, the all-electric i7 will kick you in the backside with power — or coddle you with its attention to detail and luxuriousness. Any way you go about it, you’ll feel something for the new 7 Series.
(Full Disclosure: BMW invited me to Rancho Mirage, a not-too-far drive from my home, to check out the new 7 Series and the rest of the 2023 lineup. They put me up in a fantastic hotel and fed me breakfast, lunch, and a five-course dinner every day for three days. Does anybody really need to eat that much food every day? I don’t know, but I did.)
Everything. Everything is new. The 2023 7-Series has been redesigned from the ground up. You may not like the front facia, but photos don’t do it justice. In person, it has a ton of presence. BMW describes it as “sovereign,” having the look of a supreme and powerful ruler, and I agree. The new 7-Series styling signals what we can expect from BMW’s new top-tier luxury class: a distinctive design that will be saved for the most expensive and opulent models in the lineup. Every BMW with this design will feature the prominent, near vertical front facia, optional illuminated kidney grilles, and split headlight design with the LED DRLs up top and the headlight projectors below. For now, this design will only be seen on the 7-Series variants, the iX M and the redesigned X7, setting them apart from the rest of the BMW range.
BMW has given the exterior of the new 7 an attention to detail that’s so intricate it needs to be pointed out. Every line and crease you see on the body serves an aerodynamic purpose. The electric i7 takes that even further with air curtains and active air vent control in the kidney grilles.
The redesign has resulted in a car that’s bigger than its predecessor. While BMW used to sell standard and long-wheelbase versions of the 7, every model is long-wheelbase now. It’s a big car, having grown in length by 5.1 inches, gained 1.9 inches in width, and two inches in height.
While Europe gets more than a few engine options for the 7-Series, the U.S.-bound model will launch with just three drivetrains to start. The base 740i gets a new version of the brand’s 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six with 375 hp, paired with a 48-volt hybrid system that’s integrated directly into the transmission.
Those wanting a V8 can only find it in the 2023 760i xDrive now. This 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 also comes with a 48-volt mild hybrid system and develops 544 hp. According to BMW, these mild hybrid setups are less about efficiency and more about boosting engine response and power.
The last powertrain is the biggest news for 2023: The all-new, all-electric BMW i7. It’s got dual electric motors, a 258-hp unit up front and a 313-hp unit powering the rear. Total combined output is 536 hp and 549 lb-ft of torque. A fourth powertrain option, a plug-in hybrid, is coming next year.
BMW did something unique while developing the new 7-Series: from the beginning, the new model was designed to accommodate both internal-combustion and electric powertrains. In recent years, a lot of automakers have shoved an all-electric drivetrain into a model initially designed for a conventional ICE setup; the chassis and platform weren’t built to accommodate batteries and electric motors, and the EVs came across as an afterthought. That’s what sets the i7 apart. It has an internal-combustion sibling with similar style and performance, but the BMW i7 was designed from the beginning to be an EV.
The i7 comes in a single mode, the i7 xDrive60. From there you can choose either the standard car or equip it with the M Sport package. With a 101.7-kWh battery and two electric motors manufactured without the use of rare earth metals, the combined output is enough to hustle the i7 to 60 mph in less than five seconds. While EPA testing is still ongoing, BMW is shooting for 300 miles of range on a full charge.
Driving the i7 is an experience. EVs are already quiet, but the i7’s silence is on another level. It’s vault-like. The only analog noise you get is from the tires, and even that’s hushed. That being said, BMW created artificial, engine-like noises to play through the stereo while you’re driving this nearly silent EV, and they’re a bit off-putting. The driving modes, or “Mode Matrix” as BMW calls it, offers a range of themed experiences, changing the display screen layout, interior ambient lighting, and synthetic powertrain sounds.
I’ll be honest, I only really cared for sport mode, which makes the i7 sound like a spaceship under acceleration. Most of the others soundscape modes were just distracting. Expressive mode, for instance, will make you think you have a case of tinnitus every time you accelerate.
The i7 drives fantastically, especially in M Sport trim. In corners, it hustles like a sedan half its size. Like most EVs, the i7 carries its hefty batteries under the floor for a low center of gravity, and BMW gave this big-body sedan adaptive suspension with electronic dampers and rear-wheel steering with up to 3.5 degrees of angle.
Charging the i7 shouldn’t be a chore, either. BMW says an AC charger will fill up the i7's battery at a rate of up to 11 kW; DC fast charging raises that rate to 195 kW. Owners of the i7 will also get three years of free unlimited charging with Electrify America.
While the basic straight-six-powered 740i is perfectly fine for those who want a smooth and quiet luxury sedan, BMW has something with a bit more performance. The only way to get V8 in the 7-Series now is in the 760i xDrive. Driving it, I was conflicted. A 536-hp twin-turbo V8 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it can hurl a 5,000-pound luxury sedan to 60 mph in just over four seconds. But driving the all-electric i7 spoiled me with equally impressive acceleration and zero-lag torque. For buyers who want a large luxury sedan with performance aspirations, the 760i will be the one to get. For me, I prefer the silent swiftness of the i7. It feels more in character with a vehicle this size.
BMW has taken the 7-Series models to another level with tech, comfort and attention to detail. The centerpiece of all this, which you’ve probably already seen is the available BMW Theater Screen in the rear seat. Available as part of a $4,600 option package (that requires more options), this setup installs a whopping 31-inch 8K Amazon Fire-powered flatscreen TV for your rear-seat passengers.
Just make sure the front seats are in the right position. The motorized big-screen won’t deploy if it thinks it’ll collide with the front-row seatbacks. And if you’re driving, be prepared to rely on your side mirrors and your wits: Theater Mode activates the ceiling TV and closes all the rear sun shades, blocking your view to the rear completely.
If you want to stand out, you can order your 2023 7-Series in one of eight different two-tone paint schemes. They bring some old-school luxury charm to the model, but you’ll pay upwards of $10,000 to get yours two-toned. The luxury doesn’t stop there: Yes, those are actual Swarovski crystals in the LED accent lights.
Some of the luxury tech is borderline bonkers. There’s a crystal light bar that runs the width of the dash and onto the doors that BMW calls an Interaction Bar. Each rear door has a five-inch touchscreen to control things like the climate settings or ambient lighting. And those doors can be opened or closed by pressing a button on the console, or by voice command. You can remotely park or un-park the car from your phone, James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies style, and for environmentally conscious luxury buyers you can option an interior upholstered in cashmere.
The new 7-Series starts arriving at dealers this month; preorders have been available since the spring. Including a $995 destination charge, the 740i xDrive starts at $94,295; the 760i xDrive starts at $114,595. The i7 is at the top of the range, with a starting price of $120,295.
BMW has brought a ton of tech and style to the new 7-Series. Between the attention to detail and the outlandish options, it’s sure to be one of the best in the segment. The all-electric i7, though, is a marvel. It takes luxurious opulence to the next level and takes advantage of the benefits of a silent, torquey EV drivetrain. If the i7 is a preview of what’s to come in the rest of the BMW electric range, Tesla and Mercedes should watch out.