Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

BMW didn’t unveil new products at CES 2019, and it entirely skipped the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. It waited for both events to pass to introduce the updated 2020 7 Series online without lights, music, or spinning displays.

Visually, the biggest changes are found up front. Designers didn’t settle for making nominal tweaks to the lower part of the bumper; they went all out. The 7 gets a front end that’s two inches taller than before, and it receives jumbo, X7-like kidney grilles flanked by thin headlights with intricate LED inserts. The result is the most controversial-looking 7 Series since the Chris Bangle-designed model made its debut in 2001. The changes made to the rear end are less noticeable and largely limited to restyled lights.

Inside, the 7 receives the seventh generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. It’s displayed on a 10.25-inch screen positioned next to the high-resolution, 12.3-inch screen that replaces the analog instrument cluster. BMW notes it developed iDrive 7.0 to reduce the amount of time drivers spend looking at the screen. To that end, drivers can configure up to 10 pages (much like on a smartphone or a tablet) and move icons around as needed. They can navigate the infotainment system by using the touchscreen, the iDrive controller on the center console, buttons on the steering wheel, voice commands, or gesture controls.

BMW packed its Intelligent Personal Assistant into the 7 Series. By using the phrase “hey, BMW,” the driver can access a variety of functions and information about the car and its surroundings by simply speaking out loud. The driver can ask “is the oil level OK?” and the assistant will (hopefully) say yes. It will even put up with your complaints. Saying “BMW, I’m tired” triggers a combination of mood lighting, music, and temperature that make the driver more alert.

Connected navigation — a standard feature on the 7 Series — lets users send a destination from a variety of apps to the infotainment system. Once it maps out a route, the software suggests on- and off-street parking as the drive reaches the destination. Every 7 also comes standard with air suspension, soft-close doors, a panoramic sunroof, a Harman-Kardon sound system, wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto won’t be available in the foreseeable future. BMW also makes an array of electronic driving aids like collision warning and lane departure warning standard.

The 2020 7 Series lineup includes five models named 740i, 740i xDrive, 750i xDrive, M760i xDrive, and 745e xDrive. They are all long-wheelbase sedans; the short-wheelbase variant of the 7 is no longer offered in the United States. The palette of available options includes a 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter straight-six in the 740i, a redesigned 523-horsepower V8 in the 750i, and a mighty, 6.6-liter V12 rated at 600 hp in the M760i. Every model regardless of cylinder count comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission that has been updated for the 2020 model year. The 740i is rear- or all-wheel drive, but the other variants come with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Though fuel economy figures haven’t been released yet, the plug-in hybrid 745e xDrive is the efficiency-focused member of the catalog. It blends the 740i’s six-cylinder with an electric motor which sources electricity from a lithium-ion battery pack. At the other end of the spectrum, buyers seeking performance will undoubtedly select the M760i, a model whose 3.6-second sprint to 60 mph rivals well-established sports cars.

The 2020 BMW 7 Series will reach American showrooms in the coming months. Expect a pricing announcement in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.

Cars

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo sheds weight, uses racing tricks to stay sharp

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo isn't dramatically different from the 2019 model, but Nissan made changes where it counts. The updated GT-R Nismo is lighter and offers better aerodynamic performance, according to Nissan.
Cars

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show brought it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe traveled to the 2019 show to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.
Cars

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.
Cars

2019 Audi TT RS gets subtle cosmetic surgery ahead of its trip to the Big Apple

The 2019 Audi TT RS gets a minor face-lift, but it keeps its signature turbocharged inline-five engine. The updated TT RS makes its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz gives the tech-savvy 2020 CLA more power at New York Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation CLA during CES 2019, and it will expand the lineup when it unveils a midrange model named CLA 35 at the upcoming 2019 New York Auto Show.
Cars

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.
Cars

Would you buy the Tarok compact pickup truck? Volkswagen wants to know

The Volkswagen Tarok pickup truck concept will make its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The truck first appeared at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, and VW wants to see what U.S. buyers think of it.
Cars

Sick of civilization? Volkswagen’s Atlas Basecamp concept lets you get away

Volkswagen revealed the Atlas Basecamp concept ahead of its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Built for overlanding, this family-hauler was upgraded jointly by Volkswagen and aftermarket manufacturers.
Cars

Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is taking reservations for the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). The $80,000 NZT has 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds.
Cars

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.
Cars

21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

More than 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles belonging to carsharing service Car2Go were stolen in Chicago. Police are still working to recover all of the cars, which are equipped with GPS, and 21 people have been charged.
Cars

The VR goggles you wear to shoot alien ships is helping Magna design car parts

Canadian automotive supplier Magna has started using virtual reality in its research and development department. The technology helps engineers get a better view of what they're working on, whether it's an interior part or a powertrain.
Cars

Toyota leads $1 billion investment in Uber’s self-driving tech division

In a move that has been a long time coming, Uber filed its S-1 documents, which sets the stage for the company to finally go public with an initial public offering. The company could be valued at more than $100 billion.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!