I got word I was getting a BMW 7-series to review for a week, and my mind raced to the 600-horse V12 version. My dream was shattered when they delivered me the 2018 740e plug-in hybrid. Before you start to feel sorry for me, it’s still a great $100,000 luxury car.
2018 BMW 740e xDrive iPerformance
Officially, this is the 740e xDrive iPerformance. The e is for electric, xDrive is the BMW name for all-wheel drive, and iPerformance is BMW’s division that adds electric motors for better performance.
So, we start with a gas powered, 2-liter 4-cylinder twin-turbo engine that puts out 255-horses. Add to that an electric motor powered by a 9.2-kilowatt lithium ion battery and you get up to 322-horses total. It has an 8-speed automatic transmission that has paddle shifters. With a full charge, this BMW flagship will go 0-to-60 in a respectable 5.1 seconds.
Here’s the part that is hard to wrap my brain around. Total electric-only range is just 14 miles, under perfect conditions. I got as few as 11 miles when it was warmer outside. From there, you are running on the all-gas engine, not exactly what you expect from a plug-in hybrid.
Still, this car is hard not to love. It looks sharp on the outside and the Dakota leather interior is spectacular with just the right combination of chestnut wood and aluminum.
For those who cursed the early BMW iDrive system that controls everything, today’s iDrive is actually quite easy to operate. A large round knob operates everything on the center screen. You go from media to communications, to the navigation system. Keep going to the right and you get to Connected Drive, My vehicle, and then notifications. Whatever you choose, there is a handy tutorial on the right side of the screen.
A couple of neat things…on the top of the iDrive controller, you can scribe using your finger to enter info like an address. It has gesture control also. For instance, using your finger in front of the screen, make a circular motion to the right to turn up the volume, or to the left to turn it down. You likely won’t ever use that since there are volume controls on the steering wheel, but it’s cool to show your friends.
On the center console, you can choose the drive mode you want. Your choices are Adaptive, Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro. Each one makes a drastic difference in performance and fuel economy. What’s neat is each setting completely changes the gauge cluster configuration and color.
Below that, choose the eDrive feature that you use when you want to run all-electric with no emissions. The gas engine will kick in, but only when absolutely needed, based on acceleration.
Standard Features and Options
The 740e comes extremely loaded with nice features like soft-closing doors, 4-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, a power rear shade, and a wonderful rear view camera. One cool feature about the camera, it’ll show you how wide you can open all 4 doors. It also has Auto Hold, a neat feature that allows you to take your foot off the brake when stopped. A touch of the accelerator releases it.
Options on this car total about $8000 and include heated seats and steering wheel, head-up display, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, parking assistant, active steering, 19” wheels, dual power moon roofs, and Apple Carplay.
The car itself is wonderful, has a huge back seat, but limited trunk space due to battery placement. Make no mistake, this is a true luxury sedan. It rides on a carbon fiber chassis and uses a good amount of aluminum on the body.
Range and Fuel Capacity
However, as a hybrid vehicle, it comes up way short for me with just 14 miles of battery range. Once the battery runs out, the gas engine is rated at 27 miles per gallon. On a full charge, which takes only 3 hours, it is rated at 64 MPGe until the battery is depleted.
The next problem, this 4740-pound car only has a 12.1-gallon gas tank, which means frequent stops at a gas station once the battery runs out.
What You’ll Pay
MSRP, as equipped, is $99,845, which is not a bad price until you figure out you can get the 445-horse all-gas 750i for just $6000 more.
Now, if you love big cars, but you feel guilty for driving one, this plug-in hybrid might be for you and will impress your green neighbors when they see it plugged in. Just keep polishing the big eDrive emblems on the side of the roof.