Expert Reviews

2023 BMW i7 Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

BMW’s flagship 7 Series sedan now comes in two distinct flavours: gas-powered and all-electric.

Here we look at the latter, the 2023 BMW i7, that serves as a showcase for all the technology and luxury this brand has in its arsenal. Electric propulsion is the very definition of luxurious motoring, and this fast, sybaritic technocrat is nothing short of dazzling.

Styling: 7.5/10

The seventh-generation 7 Series has grown in all directions and proudly sports BMW’s new design language featuring its signature king-size kidney grille that seems to be the cause of much discussion and consternation. With its traditional long hood and short rear deck, the i7 is imperious and a touch sinister.

This tester is bereft of exterior chrome thanks to the $2,900 M Sport Shadowline package, so said grille is not so in your face. The $12,000 two-tone Black Sapphire Metallic/Adventure Red III Metallic paint job adds a sense of ominous stealth, and this tester certainly garnered its fair share of looks as it stared down the world through its squinting “crystal headlights.

Safety: 9/10

Naturally, the flagship i7 comes with BMW’s full suite of safety and driver aids. The standard front collision mitigation system now reacts to oncoming traffic when making left turns – a feature that’s increasingly common these days. The i7 also warns the driver of pedestrians and cyclists approaching the vehicle from the front or rear when turning right, reducing the risk of a collision. Meanwhile, the safe exit function prevents the doors from being opened if it senses a vehicle or bike approaching at speed.

The standard head-up display is configurable and comprehensive in the info it imparts. This tester was further equipped with the optional Advanced Driver Assistance package ($2,000) that allows for some hands-free driving at speeds up to 130 km/h – double what was previously possible.

Practicality: 7/10

A massive luxury sedan designed to carry four occupants (OK, five if you must) in supreme comfort does not rate terribly high when it comes to practicality. However, at 501 L the i7’s trunk is wide and deep – although it loses about 40 L to its gas-powered sibling due to the battery pack. The back seats don’t fold forward to allow for long items, and despite the i7’s lengthy hood, there is no frunk. Front and rear occupants get sizeable door pockets as well as spacious consoles.

User Friendliness: 7.5/10

After a week of driving the i7, I felt I was just getting familiar with this showpiece of BMW tech. There’s a big learning curve here, with so many features, apps, and functions available. Nonetheless, just getting in and driving is easy. A start button on the console fires the i7 up. The gear selector is a crystal-look toggle, that’s very cool in its minimalist dimension, and the logical seat controls on the door panels are similarly fashioned in crystalline glass. There’s also a clear roller volume control on the console. Those familiar with BMW’s iDrive infotainment system will be thankful there’s still a tactile rotary controller and surrounding buttons (now haptic) on the console.

The gently curved dash screen houses a 12.3-inch driver information display that flows into a 14.9-inch central touchscreen. Making its debut in the 7 Series is BMW’s so-called “Interaction Bar” – a backlit crystalline feature that extends across the full width of the dash and onto the door panels. It houses touch-sensitive control panels for climate settings, hazard warning lights, opening the glove compartment, and, if equipped, operating the powered doors.

Features: 9/10

Ah, yes – the features. How much time do you have? With $47,200 worth of options on top of the $147,000 base price, this tester came loaded to the gills. Adding to its already formidable list of kit is a fabulous 36-speaker audio system ($5,900), and in theatre mode all the shades roll up and a huge 31-inch screen drops down from the ceiling ($4,900).

The numerous modes (normal, sport, expressive, eco, relax, theatre, digital) change the passenger experience by altering such elements as drive characteristics, ambient lighting, seat massage, screen graphics, cabin temperature, and sounds the i7 makes when going down the road. Much of this is the result of BMW throwing gazillions of dollars at legendary film composer Hans Zimmer to come up with a distinct sound signature for its electric vehicles (EVs). The most dramatic is found in expressive mode, wherein your right foot acts as conductor for a space-age orchestral soundscape that rises to a thrilling crescendo when matting the go pedal. Good for impressing passengers, as you’ll be able to tell them there’s probably a real horn section in there somewhere and the strings were likely recorded at Abbey Road Studios for gawd’s sake.

But after a few listenings, you’ll be muting that. I’d say relax mode is more tolerable, with its soft calming synth pad that subtly changes its harmonic structure in relation to the position of your right loafer.

Gimmickry aside, all the elements of a high-end luxury vehicle are accounted for, and here they stretch (literally) to the rear quarters where the $4,700 Rear Comfort package bestows climate and massaging chairs, with the passenger side getting integrated leg rest and recline.

The standard auto park feature can memorize a route in your parking garage (up to 200 metres) and retrace it autonomously. Essentially, you drive in, and the i7 will back itself out.

Power: 9/10

With 536 hp and 539 ft-lb of torque on hand from its pair of electric motors, the BMW i7 will instantly and silently surge ahead on a wave of thrust from any speed. We know what to expect from premium electric vehicles, and the i7 delivers.

Comfort: 9/10

Electric propulsion plays perfectly into the luxury game. The i7’s cabin is uncannily quiet. Factor in the soft and supportive Merino leather chairs that adjust and massage nine ways from Sunday, and you have a first-class conveyance. The i7’s cabin is roomy and beautifully appointed, delighting in its design and artful ambient lighting. The $6,000 Premium package adds, among other things, heat for the armrests in the door trim and centre console.

For those who find the act of pulling their own doors shut a tiresome ordeal, the $2,000 powered door option saves them from such indignity. Gotta keep up with the Rolls-Royce and Maybach crowd. Ride quality is suitably creamy, although some sharp impacts make their way into the cabin. The Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview ($4,000) adds active roll stabilization and a system that reads the road surface ahead and adjusts the suspension system accordingly.

Driving Feel: 8/10

BMW has tuned the i7 for passenger comfort, but there’s still a hint of the marque’s dynamic knowhow going on here. Body control tightens up when in sport mode (helped by the optional active roll stabilization), and while the steering feels somewhat remote, it is direct and accurate. Response to the i7’s brake pedal is progressive and mostly natural, unlike the unnerving brake-by-wire system in the Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan. Tap the crystalline shift toggle back to select “B,” and the i7 serves up true one-pedal driving. Standard rear wheel steering (3.5 degrees) reduces the big sedan’s turning circle.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

With an estimated range of 476 to 512 km (depending on equipment), the BMW i7 falls short of what could be considered its main competitors – the Mercedes EQS 580 sedan (547 km), and the Lucid Air Pure Dual Motor (660 km). The i7 supports charge rates up to 195 kW, which means the battery will go from 10 to 80 per cent in 34 minutes when using a DC fast-charger, adding 128 km every 10 minutes. Using a Level 2 charger, the i7 will recharge in 10.5 hours.

Value: 7.5/10

Those spending $147,000 and up on an electric luxury sedan probably aren’t too concerned with value, and this tester’s inflated as-tested $196,680 sticker price puts it in rarefied territory. To get the full-phat luxury experience, a heaping helping of options packages is necessary. Nonetheless, the i7 delivers on its mandate to provide the ultimate fusion of personal luxury and electric motivation. Interestingly, BMW has priced the i7 the same as the V8 gas-powered 760i xDrive.

The Verdict

So why would one buy a BMW i7 Sedan over Mercedes’s flagship EV sedan, the swoopy EQS? Rear-seat comfort mainly. As the i7 shares its platform with the gas-powered 7 Series, its traditional upright architecture makes for a fabulously roomy interior.

Conversely, the Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, while bristling with the marque’s latest tech and sporting class leading aerodynamic efficiency, has disappointingly cramped rear quarters. And the Lucid Air? Rare, admittedly impressive, but as yet an unproven commodity. The 2023 BMW i7, decked out as this specimen, is a brilliant expression of what a limo-spec electric sedan should be.

Engine Displacement 400 kW
Engine Cylinders Dual electric motors
Peak Horsepower 536 hp
Peak Torque 549 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 2.7 / 2.6 / 2.6 Le/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 24.0 / 22.9 / 23.5 kWh/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 512 km est. range (19" wheels). 2.9 / 2.8 / 2.8 Le/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 25.8 / 24.5 / 25.2 kWh/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 476 km est. range (20" wheels). 2.8 / 2.6 / 2.7 Le/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 24.5 / 23.5 / 24.1 kWh/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 496 km est. range (21" wheels).
Cargo Space 501 L
Model Tested 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 Sedan
Base Price $147,000
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,480
Price as Tested $196,780
Optional Equipment
$47,200 – Premium Package $6,000; Rear Comfort Package $4,700; Rear Entertainment Package $4,900; Executive Lounge Package $2,800; Advanced Driver Assistant Package $2,000; M Sport Shadowline Package $2,900; two-tone paintwork $12,000; Active Comfort Drive with road preview $4,000; automatic front and rear doors $2,000; Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound $5,900