2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Review

ActiveHybrid 7

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2015 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Overview

Even in its most decadent luxury sedans, BMW remains committed to offering greener drivetrain options. The 2015 BMW Active Hybrid 7 is the largest and most luxurious of the three ActiveHybrid models the company builds to provide a somewhat greener alternative to a V8. The Active Hybrid 7 uses the long-wheelbase version of the BMW 7 Series platform. This 17-foot-long 7 Series is the pinnacle of personal luxury sedans or an excellent limousine in other parts of the world.

The 2015 BMW Active Hybrid 7's drivetrain begins as the TwinPower Turbo found in the base 740Li. This smooth, inline 6-cylinder engine provides 315 hp. More importantly, it can create 330 lb-ft of torque at an amazingly low 1,300 RPM. All these drivetrain specifications are just a bit better than those of the BMW 5 Series and 3 Series. This is how the king of the mountain in the BMW lineup can match the performance of smaller and lighter sedans that use an almost identical drivetrain.

BMW’s 2015 Active Hybrid 7 adds an electric motor sandwiched between the gasoline engine and a hybrid-specific 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. In combination, the power output is a maximum of 350 hp and gobs of torque just off idle. The net result? This large sedan can step off and hit 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. And while Americans don’t normally explore the top speed of sedans on public roads, this one is limited to 155 mph.

The 2015 BMW Active Hybrid 7 returns a very respectable 22 mpg city/30 highway/25 combined, according to the EPA’s estimates. For a sedan this large and with this level of performance, that is a respectable result. That makes the ActiveHybrid 7 BMW’s most fuel economical and greenest 7 Series. The 740Ld diesel, which comes only with BMW's X-drive all-wheel-drive system, does have a 1 mpg advantage, but fuel costs conspire to make it more expensive to run, according to www.fueleconomy.gov. The diesel also outputs more CO2 per mile, and its emissions score is 10% lower (meaning worse). Unlike the 5 Series, where the diesel has a measurable advantage, in this larger vehicle line the base 740Li is almost a match for the diesel’s green scorecard.

Starting at $85,250, BMW calls the 2015 Active Hybrid 7 “part luxury sedan and part racecar.” Like the Mercedes and Audi offerings in this class, the BMW Active Hybrid 7 does not trade away driving pleasure for comfort. Rather, both are provided at a very high level. When configuring an Active Hybrid 7, the first choice is a selection of the M Sport Edition or not. Checking this $4,000 box adds custom 19-inch alloys wearing run-flat tires and the M Sport package. With that comes a heads-up display, 20-way (not a typo) “active” ventilated comfort seats, leather-covered dash and soft-close doors. This package also adds top- and side-view cameras, which provide the effect of having your own spy drone hovering overhead to provide a view around the car. The M Sport package also includes paddle shifters on the steering wheel. We have to chuckle, because this feature is standard on many economy cars costing about $20K now.

If one adds heated seats, the driver-aid packages with full stop-and-go cruise-control functionality and the adaptive lighting package, the price climbs north of $95,000. To this bill of materials, Alcantara (synthetic suede) materials may be substituted where fine leather would otherwise reside for an added cost. Some of the paint colors also boost the price. For example, Citrin Black Metallic costs $1,950. To break the $100K barrier, one might add the $2,800 rear-seat DVD entertainment system or night vision with pedestrian detection for $2,300. Or a buyer could choose a Bang and Olufsen sound system upgrade for $3,700 and a $1,000 rear and side window-shade system. Park Assistant is a bargain at only $500. Further customization like an individual wood inlaid steering wheel can make your BMW ActiveHybrid 7 unique.

One option package we found very practical is the BMW wheel and tire package. At just over $3,100, this is a very reasonable way to ensure this large, rear-wheel-drive sedan stays planted when the ice and snow arrive. Keeping the winter rims and tire pressure monitoring system all BMW is wise, but less expensive alternatives in the aftermarket are available.

The 2015 BMW Active Hybrid 7 is a car most buyers will order to their exact specifications. Finding one in stock is very unlikely. Shoppers should contact their dealer for an estimated lead time when starting their search.

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John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and GM-trucks.com and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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