The new 2023 BMW 7 Series has arrived, and aside from that polarizing front fascia, it’s a very tech-laden executive car. When fully loaded, the 7 Series will have nearly 70 inches of screens inside. That’s on top of all the other tech the car is going to come with. All of it could end up being a distracting problem for new owners, and an expensive headache down the line.
Gone are the days when the 7 Series was the driver’s luxury car — when the e38 7 Series morphed into the Bangle-ized e65 7 Series. The e65 was a precursor to what we now know of the 7 Series. It was the most technologically advanced car BMW offered at the time.
It had everything from an electronically controlled steering column-mounted gear selector, to adaptive cruise control, it was even the first car in the world to have an electronic parking brake. It also introduced the world to i-Drive, which was like an automotive Skynet, a preview of tech things to come in cars.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and three generations later and the 7 Series is less of a car and more of a rolling tech showcase that BMW can use to go all out. It’s ok if buyers have come to expect this kind of thing from BMW. It’s most likely what many of them want. That doesn’t mean that all of this stuff can’t still be and become a problem.
Research has shown that in-car technology and big screens are distracting. The last few years have seen some kind of “Who can make the biggest dash screen” arms race between manufacturers. And with automakers burying the simplest controls in menus, older buyers (BMW 7 Series buyers tend to be older and wealthy because of course they are) may have some trouble.
Then there’s the issue of system lag, something that happens in nearly every car that’s screen heavy. As our boss Bob Sorokanich pointed out, having screens control everything is a hell of a gamble. For instance, Audi’s digital cockpit I encountered in an RS5 Sportback last year was terribly laggy. In some instances, there were nearly two seconds between me pressing something on the screen and the system actually executing it.
There are also almost no physical buttons on the dash of the 7. In fact, upon closer inspection, there doesn’t look to be any at all. Its most likely some kind of haptic controls for front and rear window foggers and fan speed control.
Night driving should be fun as well. The new 7 gets a 12.3-inch screen behind the wheel and then another 14.9-inch central screen. Where is Saab’s night panel when you need it? Of course, all this may not be that much of a deal to people who can afford to buy a car like this new. They’re most likely leasing it anyway and probably won’t even use half of the available features. The real problems are going to come for second and third owners 5+ years down the line. Oh, the five-inch touch screen in the rear door went out? Gotta replace the whole door.
Also, good luck finding the LED light surround for the massive kidney grille. The 8k 31-inch flatscreen in the backseat isn’t working? Gotta total out the whole car. These things are going to be massive hits to the pockets of the people that pick them up from buy here pay here dealers. I’m calling it now: Jalopnik should do a “Avoid used 2023 BMW 7 Series’ Like The Plague” post in the 2030’s.
Don’t get me wrong. I love tech. In fact, I want to drive this thing so I can mess with all of its features. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and this new 7 Series may have that tech in spades