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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 4, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


There are a few car companies whose accomplishments make one, on occasion, stand back in awe. With Honda, it's their ability to design some of the smoothest-running four-cylinder engines around. For Toyota, it's their ground-breaking work on hybrids. For Audi, it's there ability to dominate the greatest car race in the world (the 24 Hours of Le Mans) for something like five years in a row.      

For the company of the spinning blue propeller, BMW, it's the level of performance delivered throughout their product line. Almost every one of their cars truly is the Ultimate Driving Machine in its class. This applies no less so to their largest car - the long-wheel based 745Li. Both the shorter wheel based 745i and the 745Li not only out-perform their competition, they perform better than luxury sedans have any right to.

Toss the car into a corner, and it responds with a level of control on par with the best sport sedans. Put the pedal to the metal, and the big Bimmer rewards you with one of the smoothest and strongest V8s in its class. No wonder their owners have developed a reputation for being rather smitten on the road See LA CAR's Are BMW Drivers A-Holes?).

Of course, the 7-Series is suppose to be a luxury car as well, and our test vehicle does not disappoint. Creature comforts are riding at the top of the class, with motorized rear and side-rear window shades, motorized door and trunk lid closers, and a dazzling set of passenger area lights (even the outside door handles illuminate!). All-in-all, this extra-large version of The Ultimate Driving Machine is both an outstanding luxury as well as performance vehicle.

The car has come under quite a bit of criticism in the styling department. In particular, the execution of the trunk area has been described as looking like somebody smashed one car on top of another. The dashboard has been described similarly (the center cowl for the navigation system looks like an afterthought). True, neither the trunk nor the dashboard are the most elegant designs around. On the other hand, no one can accuse the 7-Series of meekness or blandness (an attribute of some other luxury cars, notably the Lexus LS430). The side profile is actually quite striking. In reality, once you live with the car and appreciate its driving excellence and luxury, you then begin to see its inner beauty. 

One item we never quite got used to is BMW's i-Drive - the console-mounted joy-knob that controls a multitude of functions. The knob eliminates the need for a myriad of controls that will otherwise clutter the dashboard. The downside is that certain functions that used to take the push of one button now take three flicks and one push of the knob. For those trying to drive the Ultimate Driving Machine, it's a distraction. It may work great on one's desktop, but it's not so great when trying to keep your eye on the road.

Last, but not least, there have been some major reliability issues with the first run of the current generation 7-Series. Hopefully, they've all been sorted out by now. Amazingly, these issues seem to have little impact on owners' love of their vehicles. The 7-Series topped Strategic Vision's "Most Delightful Luxury Car" survey earlier this year. This is a testament to the satisfaction one has with the performance and luxury of this car.          

For more information on BMW products, go to

SPECIFICATIONS   Name of vehicle: 2004 BMW 745Li   Price: $73,300   Engine type: 4.4 liter 32-valve DOHC (four-cam) Valvetronic all-aluminum V8   Horsepower: 325 at 6,100  rpm   Torque: 330 pounds feet at 3,600 rpm   Drive configuration: rear-wheel-drive   Transmission type: 6-speed, electronically controlled automatic with Steptronic (manu-matic) function     Front suspension: independent aluminum struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar   Rear suspension: independent aluminum multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar  

Suspension features Active-Roll Stabilization, Electronic Damping Control, and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)   Wheels/tires: 245/50R18 V-Rated (Optional: 245/45R19 front and 275/40R19 rear).   Brakes:  Front: 13.6-inch power-assisted vented discs Rear: 13.7-inch solid discs Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brake assist    Overall length: 203.5 inches Overall width: 74.9 inches Overall height: 58.7 inches Curb weight: 4,464 pounds    EPA mileage: 18 mpg city / 26 mpg highway

0-60 miles per hour: 5.9 seconds Top speed: 149 mph

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