Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,800 – $43,000*

2002 BMW 745i

2003 BMW 745i

2003 BMW 7-Series interior

2004 BMW 760Li interior

2004 BMW 745i

  • Acceleration
  • Build quality
  • Interior materials
  • Passenger room
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
  • Control layout
  • Fuel economy

Smooth, powerful, and athletic, the 7-Series is virtually devoid of dynamic flaws. Spacious and exceeding comfortable, it delivers first-cabin travel by any standard. How you cope with iDrive and the other new-think controls depends on how comfortable you are with cutting-edge technology. Be sure to try the system carefully before considering a 7-Series sedan.


BMW redesigned its flagship rear-drive sedans for 2002, giving them fresh styling, an innovative control layout, and the industry’s first six-speed automatic transmission. Both the iDrive control setup and the imaginative body profile engendered considerable controversy, prompting love-it-or-hate-it responses from both the media and the public.

Compared to the old 7-Series, the 2002s were about 2 inches longer in wheelbase, overall length, and height. These luxury four-doors were also 1.6 inches wider and some 120 pounds heavier.

A 4.4-liter V8 continued in renamed 745i and long-wheelbase 745Li models, but it was actually a new design with 43 more horsepower than the previous 740i/740iL. The six-speed automatic transmission operated from a stalklike steering-column control instead of a conventional console-mounted lever.

BMW’s new Active Roll Stabilization system adjusted front and rear antiroll bars to minimize body lean in turns. An Adaptive Ride Package with electronically adjusted shock absorbers and rear self-leveling, via new air springs, was an Li option. Both models rode standard 18-inch wheels but could have 19s at additional cost. Each had antilock all-disc brakes and a traction control/antiskid system.

Inside, front knee airbags joined torso and head-protecting side airbags as standard equipment. Rear torso side airbags also were available, coupled with tubular head-protecting airbags that ran the full car length on each side. Sensors deployed any airbag only if an occupant was detected. Antiwhiplash front head restraints were standard.

BMW’s iDrive control used a console “joystick” to select and change various audio, climate, and navigation functions, as well as operation of an available phone. The settings displayed on a dashboard screen. Conventional switches were provided for a few frequently-used adjustments of the audio and climate systems.

Options included a tire-pressure monitor, front/rear obstacle detection, in-dash CD changer, break-resistant window glass, and power rear sunshades. Power 20-way front seats with internal fan ventilation and a power “massage” feature also were available.

Yearly Updates

2003 BMW 7-Series
A V12 flagship joined BMW’s top-line sedans for 2003. The 7-Series was now offered as the 745i, the 5.5-inch-longer 745Li, and the new 760Li. The 745 models used a V8 engine, but the 760Li got a 6.0-liter V12. All models came with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Inside, full-length head-protecting side airbags moved from the options list to become standard equipment. All models had BMW’s iDrive, with its “joystick” knob to operate audio, navigation, and some phone and climate functions.

BMW’s Adaptive Ride Package was standard on the 760Li, optional on others. The 760Li also included front/rear obstacle detection, and ventilated front and rear seats. Rear seats in the 745Li could have internal fan ventilation as an option.

New options for 2003 included active cruise control, designed to maintain a preset distance from traffic ahead, as well as 18-inch run-flat tires.

2004 BMW 7-Series
Satellite radio was a new option on 2004 models, but little else changed.
2005 BMW 7-Series
Rear DVD entertainment and keyless access that allows entry and starting without removing keyfob from pocket or purse are among the new-for-2005 options. Newly standard for ’05 are steering-linked headlights and front and rear obstacle detection.
2006 BMW 7-Series
Updated styling and more V8 power highlight BMW’s 2006 flagship sedans. All get revisions to exterior appearance, interior trim, dashboard, and chassis. A 360-hp V8 powers 750i and 750Li models, which replace the 325-hp 745i and 745Li. Also newly revised is BMW’s iDrive, which adjusts audio, navigation, and climate settings via a console “joystick” knob and dashboard screen. Added for ’06 is a wireless cell phone connection.
2007 BMW 7-Series
A sport-themed model was a midyear addition to BMW’s large sedan lineup for 2007. The 750 offered an optional Sport Package with firmer suspension and, for ’07, 20-inch wheels. Standard power folding door mirrors were new for ’07, and 750s gained heated 16-way “comfort” front seats. Newly optional were BMW Individual packages with various mixes of trim and features. Also available were DVD entertainment and keyless entry and starting.
2008 7-Series
There were no changes of note to the 2008 BMW 7-Series lineup.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

For its first season, the 7-Series came only with a 4.4-liter V8 engine that made 325 horsepower. A 760Li sedan with a 438-horsepower, 6.0-liter V12 engine joined for 2003. Both engines drive a six-speed automatic transmission. In 2006, a 360-hp V8 powers 750i and 750Li models, which replace the 325-hp 745i and 745Li.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.4/268
Engine HP 325
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.8
Engine HP 360
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 360
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


dohc V12
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0/366
Engine HP 438
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 444
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration with the V8 is robust, though traction control intrudes to take some steam out of starting-stopping sprints. Some examples tested when new also suffered stuttering movement from a stop or walking pace. All told, though, you can expect effortless high-speed cruising. BMW quoted 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.9 seconds for the V8 model and 5.4 seconds for the 760Li.

Fuel economy is about as expected. A test 745i averaged 17.0 mpg, helped by a long highway trip. Premium fuel is required.

Any 7-Series is a model of smooth discipline on the road, less-isolated than a Lexus LS 430 or Mercedes-Benz S-Class on flawed pavement, but never uncomfortable. Low-profile 19-inch tires slap into sharp bumps, but detract only slightly.

Steering/handling ranks as the sportiest among premium luxury sedans. A 7-Series is never ponderous, and Active Roll Stabilization uncannily quells most body lean. With 19-inch tires, steering feels even more alert, turn-in crisper, and grip tenacious.

Wind is a mere murmur on the highway. The V8 engine hits a rich, strident note at full throttle, but is hardly noticed otherwise.

Instruments/controls are another story. The unfamiliar design of important controls compels reorientation to a different world of driving. The gearshift, for example, is a small electric flipper, with spring-back movements and push-pull activation that’s not self-evident.

Anything more than the simplest climate and audio adjustments forces interaction with iDrive. Accessing a daunting range of communication, navigation, and entertainment tools; it even adjusts suspension firmness and deactivates the antiskid control. Sadly, learning its ways and coordinating its joystick movement while driving takes hours of practice and diverts attention from the road. Controls are easy to reach, at least, though the iDrive screen can wash out in sunlight, and the power-seat cluster is awkwardly mounted on the console sidewall.

Quality materials and generous use of wood gives each 7-Series interior a sophisticated, modern-furniture ambience. Firm, roomy front seats promise fine contour and support, though tall drivers may wish for more seat travel. And only V8 models with a “Comfort” or “Luxury” seat option have independent adjustment of side bolsters and headrest height. Front headrests block some over-the-shoulder vision.

Stepping into the rear means entering the lap of luxury, especially for two adults. Back doors could open wider for easier foot clearance, though.

Four golf bags fit transversely into the large, luxuriously finished trunk. The optional power lid (if installed) opens and closes with the push of a button. Cabin storage is good.


Model Tested: 2003 BMW 745i

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 8
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 58


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
117.7 198.0 74.9 58.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
18.0 23.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.5 41.3 37.2
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
123.2 203.5 74.9 58.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
18.0 23.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.5 41.3 43.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Engine may ping under light load, idle high or stumble when cold requiring software update. (2005-07)
Valve cover leaks
Description: The right side (cylinders 1-4) valve cover or oil filler cap on the 4.8L V8 may break in cold weather due to ice buildup in the vent hose or valve. (2004-06)
Description: The battery may die overnight if the key is left in the ignition on vehicles with electronic immobilizer system. (2004-06)
Electrical problem
Description: The Cingular digital phone may malfunction (dropped calls, failure to receive incoming calls, etc.) requiring reprogramming of the telephone control unit. (2002)
Electrical problem
Description: The instrument display may switch back and forth between US and metric requiring the computer to be recoded. (2002)
Electrical problem
Description: Night vision display malfunctions due to wiring harness damage near headlights. (2006-07)
Electrical problem
Description: Automatic headlights may not go off when exiting a tunnel or parking garage due to conflict between headlight module and rain sensor. (2005-06)
Description: The universal garage door opener in the vehicle may not accept a code from a different (new transmitter or new owner) if the batteries in the transmitter are low. (2003-07)
Transmission problems
Description: Transmission may intermittently go into fail-safe mode (and may feel strange) due to controller area network (CAN) bus system errors. (2005-06)

Recall History

2002 7-Series
Description: The fuel pump control system may have been programmed wrong, causing it to run at the wrong speed, leading to possible engine stall. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-03 7-Series
Description: Due to a software error, the engine may stall and drivers may not be able to restart it. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002-2008 7-Series
Description: A check valve of the brake vacuum pump may leak a small amount of lubricating oil. Over time this could result in contamination of the brake booster. Power assist braking performance could be adversely affected. In extreme cases there could be a complete loss of power assist braking. An unexpected reduction or loss in power braking assist may increase the risk of a crash.
2003 7-Series
Description: An oil leak may occur due to a faulty oil filter drain plug. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2003-04 7-Series
Description: Heating mat in backrest’s side bolster of cars with front-seat heating could be damaged by excessive contact when entering/exiting the vehicle; overheating could melt a small hole in the seat cover and possibly burn the occupant.
2004 7-Series
Description: On 8 and 12 cylinder vehicles, engine stalling and a loss of power steering might occur because of faulty digital engine management control units. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2004 7-Series
Description: The driver’s seat occupant detection system may be unreliable, and cause the airbags to remain inactive during a crash due to incorrect programming. Dealers will reprogram the software.
2004 7-Series
Description: On certain cars, engine stalling may occur after short period of operation; engine may be unable to restart.
2004 7-Series
Description: In certain crash conditions, driver’s frontal airbag, knee airbag, head protection system, and safety belt pretensioner may not deploy.
2005 745i
Description: Incorrectly-manufactured parking pawl guide plate could cause parking lock system not to engage, after transmission is placed in “Park” position.
2005-2007 7-Series
Description: Vehicles with Comfort Access and soft-close automatic doors may appear to have doors closed and latched but may open while vehicle is underway.
2005-2008 7-Series
Description: Vehicles with Comfort Access and electronic key may inadvertently shift into neutral instead of park but still allow the driver to remove the key. The vehicle could roll away.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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