When it first came stateside in 1978, choosing a BMW 7 Series was a simple process. With one engine and one wheelbase, you could just pick what color you want and be on your merry way. Today there are ten different models, forcing drivers to choose among four engines (plus a hybrid), rear- or all-wheel-drive, and two different wheelbase lengths. As if this isn't tricky enough, the options list has more custom choices than the Taco Bell app. Do you want standard paint and upholstery, or something from the pricey BMW Individual collection? What about the headlights: Do you want LEDs, or are the standard xenons just fine? Need a head-up display? Night vision? Adaptive dampers? The list goes on and on. After a week with a new version of BMW's flagship sedan, we've sorted out which model you actually want, although it's still up to you whether or not to order a ceramic-glazed iDrive knob. Our favorite 7 Series is now the 740Ld Xdrive, a conclusion we came to after a week at the helm of the smooth, torquey land yacht. Driving Notes When the diesel 7 first arrived at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, its engine was already familiar to American consumers. It's the same 3.0-liter, turbodiesel inline-six found in everything from the E90 3 Series to the past two generations of X5, as well as the current 5 Series. A robust 413 pound-feet of torque lathered across the rev range, with peak twist available between 1,500 and 3,000 rpm, and the corresponding horsepower tops out at 255. 0–60 happens in a sedate 6.1 seconds, and for those with autobahn dreams the top speed is a modest 130 mph. While those figures aren't terribly impressive, as is often the case with diesels, the real-world application of the engine's power is far more dramatic. Even small throttle inputs produce a smooth surge of acceleration, making the 740Ld feel a lot quicker than the performance metrics might indicate. Even with the current cheap price of gas, the superior fuel efficiency of a diesel engine is worth noting, especially as this model only costs $1500 more than a 740Li xDrive. The diesel tips the scales at nearly 4,700 pounds, yet it boasts a 31-mile-per-gallon highway rating. It's rated at 23 mpg in the city, while our real-world testing saw returns in the mid-to-high 20s. Simple anecdotes about acceleration and fuel economy figures only convey a small part of the 740Ld's goodness. This engine comes into its own on the freeway, where the standard eight-speed automatic keeps the revs as low as possible. A 70-mph cruising speed produces nary a whisper from under the hood, while a small toe's worth of throttle elicits a nearly imperceptible swapping of cogs and a smooth, quiet wave of torque. This is a vehicle that delights in being driven with a soft foot and a gentle hand, befitting its large luxury status. Despite the BMW badge on the nose and all six cylinders arranged in a …
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|MPG||19 City / 29 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||315 @ 5800 rpm|
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