Premium large car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $19,500 – $80,100*

2009 BMW 7-Series Front

2009 BMW 7-Series Rear

2009 BMW 7-Series Interior

2009 BMW 7-Series Profile

  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride

With its 2009 redesign, BMW corrected several of the 7-Series’ few flaws, and added a host of useful high-tech features. Revamped iDrive is noteworthy for its ease of use. Competitors Audi A8, Lexus LS, and Mercedes S-Class all offer superior isolation from outside disturbances, nicer interior materials, and a more composed ride. Still, the 7-Series is a worthwhile contender, though it’s tough to recommend over those rival premium large sedans.


Redesigned for 2009, BMW’s 7-Series sedan gained freshened styling, more power, and a new version of the German company’s iDrive control system. The full-size, rear-wheel-drive 7-Series sedan lineup consisted of two models: the 750i and 750Li. L versions of BMW’s flagship sedan rode on a wheelbase that was 5.5 inches longer than that of the 750i. Both models were powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that made 400 horsepower. The sole transmission was a six-speed automatic, whose shifter moved from its previous location on the steering column to the center console.

Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front and rear side airbags, knee airbags, and curtain side airbags. BMW’s Active Roll Stabilization, designed to counter body lean, was part of an optional Sport Package. So was new Integral Active Steering, which added speed-sensitive rear-wheel steering to BMW’s Active Steering system. All models continued to include steering-linked headlights, front- and rear-obstacle detection, and BMW Assist emergency and concierge service. Standard Dynamic Driving Control allowed the driver to adjust the suspension, throttle response, transmission shift characteristics, and power steering. A navigation system and wireless cell-phone link were standard, along with the new version of BMW’s iDrive control for audio, navigation, and climate settings.

Newly available for 2009 were blind-spot alert, a lane-departure warning, a head-up display, sideview and rearview cameras, and high beams that automatically dimmed when oncoming traffic was detected. Also new was a 40-gigabyte hard drive for the audio and navigation systems, which allowed for storage of up to 13 gigabytes of music files. MP3 player connectivity and satellite radio also were available. Also offered were a night-vision system, adaptive cruise control, and DVD entertainment. Keyless entry and starting also remained available. BMW’s 7-Series sedan competed against the Audi A8, Lexus LS, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Yearly Updates

2010 7-Series
All-wheel drive became available on both body styles as the AWD 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive. A new top-end model also joined the lineup: the 760Li, unleashing a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 engine that made 535 horsepower and mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rolling on distinctive 20-inch wheels, the 760Li had three choices of full-leather upholstery. Active Roll Stabilization and Integral Active Steering were standard on the 760Li and optional on other models. A new M Sport Package, available for all models, included a lift-reducing aero kit and 19-inch ultra-high performance tires (20-inch optional). With rear-drive, the M Package included Active Roll Stabilization. For BMW, the 2010 model year did not last as long as usual.
2011 7-Series
The 2011 BMW 7-Series lineup expanded further with the addition of several new models, including the entry-level 740i and 740Li, the sport-themed ALPINA B7, and the gas/electric ActiveHybrid 7. The 740s were powered by a 300-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six. ALPINA B7 had a 500-horsepower 4.4-liter turbocharged V8. ActiveHybrid paired a turbocharged V8 with an electric motor for a combined 455 horsepower.
2012 7-Series
There were no major changes to the BMW 7-Series for 2012.
2013 7-Series
It didn’t look much different than the 2012 model, but the 2013 7-Series saw a number of updates. The available V8 engine got more power, new transmissions were designed to increase fuel efficiency, the gas/electric ActiveHybrid 7’s drivetrain was new, and also there were cosmetic changes inside and out.
2014 7-Series
There wee no major changes to BMW 7-Series for 2014.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In 2009, all 7-Series models used a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that produced 400 horsepower along with a six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 engine, making 535 horsepower and mated to an eight-speed automatic, became available for 2010 in the new 760Li. added for 2012 were 740 models with a turbocharged 315-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six and ALPINA B7s with a 500-horsepower 4.4-liter turbocharged V8. Both engines mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Also new was the ActiveHybrid that combined a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 with an electric motor for a combined 455 horsepower, and used an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 315
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.4/268
Engine HP 400
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 450
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



Turbocharged dohc V8/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.4/268
Engine HP 455
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.4/268
Engine HP 500
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 516
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc V12
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0/364
Engine HP 535
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 550
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic


Road Test

We have had no opportunity to drive the 740, ALPINA B7, or ActiveHybrid. Acceleration in other models is fine in normal driving, but full-throttle takeoffs start with a somewhat timid launch followed by a strong surge as the turbos get cooking. This somewhat non-linear throttle response makes for unwanted lurching in around-town driving. Upshifts are accompanied by a slight sag in power, but downshifts are quite prompt. BMW has quoted a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds for the 750i and 5.2 for the 750Li. These figures seem a bit optimistic, but the 7-Series never lacks power.

Fuel economy, as expected, sets no frugality records. A test 750i sedan averaged 17.9 mpg. Premium-grade gasoline is required.

Ride quality falls well short of the lofty ride/balance standard we’ve come to expect from BMW. The adjustable suspension offers Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport + modes. Comfort mode is floaty and induces more tire thump and reaction to bumps than in top rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Normal mode decreases bump responses only slightly. Sport and Sport + are increasingly stiff. While never outright harsh or uncomfortable, the 7-Series is not as composed as it should be.

Steering/handling has long been BMW’s forte. With the optional Sport Package, Integral Active (rear-wheel) Steering combines with BMW’s excellent Active Roll Stabilization to make a 7-Series equipped with that system among the best-handling large sedans. Integral Active Steering turns the rear wheels slightly in the opposite direction of the fronts at low speeds to aid maneuverability and cut 2.5 feet from the turning radius; and in the same direction as the fronts at higher speeds to benefit stability. While handling is impressive even in Comfort or Normal mode, it sharpens somewhat in Sport and Sport +. Steering is nicely weighted and brakes inspire confidence. Without the Sport Package, the 7-Series feels much looser, with noticeable body lean and not enough steering feedback.

Generally serene, the 7-Series exhibits a bit of wind rush at highway speeds and suffers some bump noise around town. The twin-turbo V8 engine emits a soft, turbine-like whine under full-throttle acceleration.

BMW’s revamped iDrive took the 7-Series from one of the worst luxury-car control systems to one of the best. A row of eight programmable buttons can be set for radio stations, map destinations, or shortcuts to an iDrive screen, greatly easing everyday use. However, the optional 6-disc CD changer is inconveniently mounted in the upper glovebox. BMW added separate buttons for suspension adjustments and a few iDrive functions that previously required using the joystick controller. Climate controls are mounted low but within easy reach. The navigation system is relatively simple to program, and the large, 10.2-inch dashboard screen shows a very clear image. Guidance instructions can be set to appear on the right-hand side of a split screen and (if installed) the head-up windshield display. The 7-Series cabin is mostly understated-perhaps too much so, given this car’s lofty price. Mostly black interior trim on many cars largely mutes the impression of the nice interior materials and wood.

Even the lankiest occupants can expect plenty of headroom and legroom up front. The driver’s seat might be fitted with ventilation, extendable thigh support, and an articulated backrest. BMW’s optional massage function doesn’t so much “massage” as adjust pressure points every few minutes. Lane Departure Warning works well; it can “shimmy” the steering wheel a bit if the driver fails to signal or the car drifts toward the side. Night Vision also impresses, displaying a black-and-white image on the dashboard or on the available head-up display. This version also incorporates Pedestrian Detection, which not only “paints” people with a yellow tint, but also flashes a warning Active Cruise Control allows the driver to set one of four following distances, and it works as advertised. So does the Collision Warning System, which beeps if you’re closing too quickly on a car ahead. The optional camera package includes the traditional rearview camera along with cameras mounted in the front wheel wells that look to both sides. Each displays an image on half of the navigation screen-useful when pulling out of an alley or from between two cars.

Rear-seat headroom is adequate even for six-footers. In the 750i, most adults have adequate legroom even behind a tall driver, and the Li offers limo-like legroom. The seat is very comfortable, but while it may be wide enough to squeeze three across, the center rider would have to straddle a very bulky driveline hump. An Li might have heated and cooled rear seats with adjustable seatback angle. A dual-screen entertainment system also might be installed.

The trunk is spacious and nicely trimmed, but its opening isn’t particularly large. The interior features a roomy console box, two covered cupholders, a small dash tray, and upper and lower gloveboxes. However, the optional CD changer takes up the entire upper glovebox.


Model Tested: 2010 BMW 750i

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 - 8
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 8


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 9
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 6

Total: 66


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
120.9 199.8 74.9 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.0 21.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.6 38.5 41.3 38.9
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
126.4 205.3 74.9 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.0 21.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.8 38.9 41.3 44.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A Not tested 4-door sedan


(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

Door handles
Description: The front door handle(s) may be hard to move, especially in colder climates, due to dirt or moisture getting into the release cables, requiring redesigned cables with better seals. (2009-14)
Engine misfire
Description: Fuel injectors may require repair or replacement. (2009-12)
Engine misfire
Description: Turbocharger may fail because of oil starvation. (2010)
Engine noise
Description: Some vehicles have premature timing chain wear. (2009-12)
Oil leak
Description: Oil pump volume-control valve may leak (2009-12)
Description: Premature battery failure will result if the replacement battery is not registered with the onboard computer. (2009)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate due to failure of the turbocharger’s auxiliary water pump. (2009-14)
Software problems
Description: The newer generation of Apple iPhones may not work due to an older style snap-in adapter in the vehicle. A newer version will be installed under warranty. (2009-10)
Software problems
Description: There may be false theft alarms due to a glitch in the control software, requiring reprogramming. (2009-10)
Software problems
Description: Engine may go into reduced power mode because faulty engine management software. (2014)

Recall History

2009-10 7-Series
Description: Certain models may fail to comply with federal safety standard for tire selection and rims; the tire-pressure label may indicate five-passenger seating capacity, but actual capacity (with optional seating package) is four.
2012 7-Series with turbocharged 8- or 12-cylinder
Description: Circuit board for the electric auxiliary water pump can overheat, leading the pump to smolder and/or start a fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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