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CAR OF THE MONTH August 2006

2006 BMW 750i Review

The Ultimate Driving Pet

A three-quarter front view of a 2006 BMW 750i

In short: A high-tech, powerful luxury sedan.

What’s your pleasure? If a big, luxurious, fast, comfortable and expensive sedan will do the trick, read on. Otherwise, why not check out our travel or restaurants pages for varied entertainment. Will it be an Italian thoroughbred (Masserati Quattroporte), a competing German shepherd (Mercedes-Benz S-Class), an English cat (Jaguar SV8) to enshrine your status level? BMWs are a bit of a cult car family—you either love them and will drive nothing else but a Bimmer, or you wonder what essential oil they were diffusing in Chris Bangle’s design office and adopt one of the above-mentioned pets.

Bottom line, as a performance car, the 7 is remarkable and lives up to its motto: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Multiple views of the 2006 BMW 750i

Bring along your graduation certificate for the iDrive Academy, spend a few minutes exercising your right hand on the “smart” knob and you’ll get this baby purring just the way you want. It can’t be stressed enough how much this automobile is loaded with boundless electronic gizmos. This is an $82,000 car after all, so we won’t bother mentioning all of its many features, but we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the nifty climate-controlled front storage compartment—although it’s sadly too small for a palate-pleasing bottle of Krug. Whether you like the exterior design or not (it was substantially changed for 2006), we had a hard time finding an angle we loved and squinting the eye you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from a 5-Series.

An interior view of the 2006 BMW 750i

Although this car’s looks and iDrive have garnered the most attention throughout its life, the 7-Series is still a BMW and with that badge comes the pedigree of a serious performance craft. The steering is a model for big sedans, being simultaneously feather-light and responsive. The ride is comfortable, but not at all floaty, and the 19-inch wheels transmit a look and feeling of sportiness. The 4.8-liter V8 (why isn’t it a 748i?) churns out a robust 360 horsepower that moves this heavy beast up to 60 mph in a scant 5.4 seconds. The 7 is a car that wants to go and its quickness certainly seems to make the V12-powered, $120,000 760i rather redundant (it’s faster by only 0.4 seconds). The adaptive six-speed automatic transmission has three different modes that are selected by a button on the steering hub. One mode is a manual setting that, unlike other BMW manumatics, won't shift unless it's told to by the driver through wheel rim-mounted buttons.

Despite all the complaints about iDrive and the 7’s avant-garde looks that have soured quite a few people against BMW, this has been the best-selling 7-Series ever. Obviously the buying public didn’t have that much of a problem with them. Nevertheless, substantial changes were made to both areas to smooth out some of those ruffled feathers, which have made the big Bimmer better looking and easier to live with. It may not be perfect, but this is one pet you’d be happy to take home.

Read a review of the 2010 BMW 750Li Sedan

A three-quarter rear view of a 2006 BMW 750i

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty; 4-year/50,000-mile full maintenance program; 4-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance.

Base Price: $71,800 /As tested: $82,390

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 4.8-liter V8
Horsepower: 360 bhp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 360 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting

Curb weight: 4,486 lbs
Wheelbase: 117.7 in
198.4/74.9/58.7 in
Turning circle: 39.7 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist
independent front and rear with active roll stabilization
traction control, vehicle stability control

Safety: front airbags, front side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags; active knee protection; adaptive headlights; active cruise control

0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
Top Speed: 148 mph (governed)

EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg

Sophisticated and proven German engineering; handling; comfort

Dislikes: iDrive is still annoying and an irky central control; sluggish in standard engine mode

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 08/31/10 AR)