The luxury sedan market is flush with wondrous vehicles, including the 2018 BMW 740e. 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 new BMW, Germany manufacturers continue to expand their reign of the segment. Mercedes-Benz has the S-Class and there’s the Audi A8. The 740e xDrive iPerformance 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. It completes the 0-60 miles per hour standard in 5.1 seconds. Like its siblings, the new BMW is at its best on the open road, let’s say the German autobahn or a day’s trek on a major freeway. The driving dynamics — maneuvering through traffic and omnipresent 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 and 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 is assisted by a stop-start engine feature and brake regeneration. The electric-only driving range is a bleak 14 miles.
The 740i and the 740e models include adaptive air suspension with driver-selectable modes, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, automatic windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, and power-closing doors. There are also 14-way power-adjustable seats with heating, four-zone climate control, a panoramic moonroof and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Wood trim and leather upholstery are now even standard, further adding to the car’s luxurious nature.
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. Many Internet-connected features work online or with unique BMW apps.
The new BMW is also appealing because of the carmaker’s Ultimate offering. The maintenance program covers the basic service needs without cost for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever arrives first.
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 they get.
The 2018 BMW 740e has an MSRP of $90,700.00. The Driving Assist and Parking Assist packages are $1,700 each, with 19-inch alloy wheels ($1,300) and Active Steering ($1,050) also in the mix. Add a few smaller charges, including $300 for Apple Care compatibility (really?) and a $995 designation fee and the new hybrid prices out to $99,845.
If significant highway 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. You’ll thrive in luxurious comfort while in the generous confines of a small apartment on wheels.
But if real-world driving and a more financially attractive vehicle seem right, the 740e is too much car for too much money.
Article Last Updated: June 1, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.