2017 BMW 740e Test Drive Review – Luxury Goes Slightly Electric

3 months ago by Jake Holmes 10

2017 BMW 740e

BMW’s plug-in sedan makes it easy to go green without sacrificing any luxury.

– Detroit, Michigan

It’s hard not to like taking a spacious, plush sedan like this BMW 7 Series when you and some friends are driving across the state for a weekend trip. This model specifically is the plug-in hybrid, designated 740e, which is able to drive 14 miles on battery power alone thanks to a 9.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. That’s enough range to run short urban journeys on electrical power, but you’ll still rely on the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four for traveling further distances. The eco-focused powertrain helps save money at the gas pump but doesn’t at all diminish how well the 7 Series works as a luxury sedan.

2017 BMW 740e

Pros

Excellent efficiency. The car’s all-electric driving range might not be incredible by modern plug-in standards, but the 740e is still by far the most efficient 7 Series you can buy. Over several hundred miles that included lots of highway driving, I averaged just over 32 miles per gallon. That’s better than the EPA’s gas-only estimate of 27 mpg combined and far better than the combined rating of any other 7 Series variant.

Strong acceleration and smooth operation belie any indication that the powertrain is a non-traditional setup. There’s little noise or vibration to announce when the gas engine turns on or off. The electric motor delivers 111 horsepower on its own, which coupled with the gas engine’s 255 hp, delivers 322 total system hp. That’s enough for swift acceleration without pause in all situations, even though the 740e is relatively portly (see below).

2017 BMW 740e

It’s a great luxury sedan. Sublime quietness, a pillowy ride quality, and epic back-seat legroom make the 740e a wonderful place to spend long journeys. The car isolates occupants from the outside world so thoroughly that one could easily take a nap – in the executive rear chairs only, of course. And for the driver, comfy seats, a loud stereo, and adaptive cruise control with self-steering assist make any trip easy.

Cons

Underutilized instrument cluster. Where rivals with digital instrument clusters can show all manner of navigation, phone, or music data, the BMW’s color display doesn’t provide much more than fuel economy or adaptive-cruise information. For most drivers of plug-in vehicles, there can never be enough information at hand.  With so much real estate in front of the driver, it seems like a wasted opportunity to bring over more information from the 10.2-inch center infotainment display.

Inconsistent brake feel. The left pedal feels considerably different when you’re driving with the gas engine versus with the motor alone. In the latter mode, the pedal is notably softer and has more travel before the regenerative brakes take effect. Unpredictable brake feel is common to many cars with regenerative brakes, of course; spend a few weeks at the wheel of this 740e and you’d doubtless acclimate.

2017 BMW 740e

Less and more. Like any plug-in hybrid, the 740e makes sacrifices in two important areas: cargo room and mass. Trunk space suffers due to the addition of the battery pack, falling from a generous 18.0 cubic feet to 14.8 cubic feet. And at 4,740 pounds, the 740e is the second-heaviest (behind only the fabulous M760i) 7 Series sold in the U.S. The base BMW 740i tips the scales at only 4,195 pounds.

The real bonus of the plug-in, besides the 14 miles of all-electric range, however is in the pricing.  With the federal credit for electrification plugged in (pun intended – $4,668), the cost of the 740e is almost identical to the base car.  So why not opt for the plug?

Competitors

Cadillac CT6 Plug-In
Lexus LS 500h
Mercedes-Benz S550e

Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com

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10 responses to "2017 BMW 740e Test Drive Review – Luxury Goes Slightly Electric"

  1. speculawyer says:

    Emphasis on “slightly”.

    These European compliance cars are PATHETIC. Do you think someone paying $100K+ for this car is actually going to plug it in? I doubt it.

    These should not qualify for HOV lane stickers.

    The only good thing I have to say is that Tesla will drink their milkshake.

  2. pjwood1 says:

    The regenerative brake hand-off always seems to be made more of, than it really is. These cars all stop, if you stomp. If a bother, there’s an EV that doesn’t use brake regeneration.

    What I don’t get is how one gets a 2.0ltr 4cyl, and 9KWh, to tip the scales above 4,700 pounds? This is where 300HP begins to feel like not so much.

  3. Mark.ca says:

    14 electric miles! This is a car that an oil exec will gladly drive!

  4. trackdaze says:

    If you must The Mercedes equivalent has a 13kwhr battery.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      Agree, i like the S class better.

  5. EV_P100D says:

    101k for this? How is this better than the Tesla Model S 100D? BMW petroheads… please respond

  6. EV_P100D says:

    Competitors… Cadillac CT6 Plug-In, Lexus LS 500h, Mercedes-Benz S550e

    What about Tesla S 100D?

  7. Miggy says:

    Jake, great report but can you please add Metric measurements as this is what most of the world use and we do not understand MPG which could be UK or USA??

    1. Terawatt says:

      Rest assured it’s US. The British have been humbled enough that they no longer forget the world outside their borders. Americans by default think the universe begins and ends with the land of the free, home of the brave, the divided states of Trump.

  8. Terawatt says:

    To claim this is to green is ridiculous. As he himself points out, is only a slight improvement over the gas-only version. And on the long weekend trips he says it’s perfect for, the difference will be smaller still. Even worse, he seems to be one of these morons who think MPG is meaningful in a plug-in! Obviously only MPGe means anything at all for a PHEV. You could, after all, drive it quite far, in total, on a teaspoon of gas plus a thousand kWh, but the resulting MPG of hundreds of thousands would be just as devoid of information as his identically measured “32”. Whether it’s emissions or efficiency you’re taking about, MPG is meaningless for an energy hybrid, just like the number of mangos you’ve eaten doesn’t say what your calorie intake is – and for the same reason. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a writer for an EV site that they understand this basic stuff and NEVER EVER reference MPG in this misleading way.

    Jake, if you understand my criticism then please take it to heart. But if you don’t, please educate yourself! Speak to Jay – he understands why MPGe and not MPG is the relevant measure for a PHEV. Using it incorrectly just contributes to more people making the same mistake you did!

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