I told my father not to do it. I told him he was making a mistake. I told him he would regret it. I was right, yet my father still disregarded my advice and went out to purchase a fully loaded 2004 BMW 745LI. My father paid over eighty thousand for his particular 745, and not even a year later it has lost tens of thousands of dollars in resale value. He still cant (and I cant) figure out how to use the car and its dreaded I-Drive. Finally he has realized his mistake, but he is reluctant to let go of the car so early after having it lose so much value. I have driven the car numerous times, and for long distances. Here are my impressions.
Exterior/ Interior: When the new 7-Series came out in January of 2002, I was so disappointed with the cars new styling, both inside and out. As the owner of the previous generation 7-Series, I was appreciative of that cars luxurious and traditional interior as well as its elegant, classic exterior design.
My least favorite part of the new 7-Series Exterior was the hump on the trunk. Like many others, I thought it looked completely out of place, and for me, it ruined the cars design. A couple years later, I have grown much more accustomed to the 745s styling. I still hate the trunk, but I think the front and side designs are very sporty and muscular.
My fathers model was one of the nicer 745s I have seen. It had a dark blue exterior with tan leather and it sat on beautiful 20-inch wheels.
If it werent for the interior, I would have few bones to pick with this car. I personally am not a fan of the more modern interior styling compared to my old seven. I think it doesnt look nearly as classic, and I dont think it will age well. Fortunately, the materials in the new 7 are still of high quality, and most areas are soft to the touch.
The seats in my dads seven were extremely comfortable. They were perforated, and felt much softer then the leather in my previous generation 750il. I was able to find a very comfortable driving position. The back seat was also incredibly spacious, though no more so then my previous generation 7. The back seats had a rear sunshade, as well as powered side window sunshades, which I felt was a nice if unnecessary feature.
The trunk on the 745 was also very big, and my dads feature a convenient automatic open and automatic close feature, which is really helpful when you are carrying heavy objects.
Driving Impressions/ Design Gripes: I fail to understand why BMW couldnt have put in a regular automatic transmission of the 745, like it has done on the new 5-Series. I hate the stalk gear shifter, and I think it is not nearly as easy to use as a regular automatic. I often drive with one hand gripping the gear shift, and on this car the only thing to grip is an I-Drive (which is my next and biggest source of aggravation)
Why oh why BMW did you have to invent this horrible and confusing device? I would like to consider myself reasonably tech-savvy, yet after two hours of combing through the manual, my father and I still had trouble figuring how to use the crazy I-drive. Things like programming the navigation were easy enough, because you typically do that while stationary. However changing the radio station, airflow distribution, or many of the other things I drive controls take lots of patience, and lots of time looking away from the road.
There are some people who claim they have become so comfortable with I-drive that they can maneuver it without looking away from the road. I think they are kidding themselves. The I-Drive system is so confusing and difficult to use. I would much rather have tons of buttons, because at least you know what each button will perform. My 750il has tons of buttons, but they are intuitive and easy to use. Almost a year later my father still cant use his I-drive.
Ok so if you cant use the I-drive, shouldnt you be able to use the satellite controls on the steering wheel to control things like the radio. Theoretically you should be, but in order to turn on the radio, you have to either use the I-drive, or the cars voice control and say something like radio on. This would all work very nicely if the voice command worked. The owners manual gives you a bunch of different phrases that the voice command will understand so it can perform various functions. The system is supposed to recognize all types of voices. Sometimes voice command worked, but the majority of the time it didnt. After about the twentieth time of hearing Please Repeat we gave up. The technology in this car is so aggravating.
Once you get to drive the big 7, you realize that this is still a BMW underneath all of the mess on the surface. The 325 horsepower 4.4L V-8 is very powerful, and launches the car as if it was much lighter. A, deep, somewhat removed rumble is emitted from the big eight when the car is floored. Power is obviously not an issue.
The 745 also handles very well. The steering is firm, and nicely weighted, yet seems much less communicative then my 750il. Road imperfections are barely transmitted through the wheel. The 745 drives much smaller then it is, and can still take corners as fast as cars that are much smaller then it is.
I was surprised by how smooth my dads 745Li rode, even with the big wheels. It rode even smoother and quieter then my previous generation 7-Series. Overall the 7-Series is still a great riding and driving car, yet I will never be able to get past its deficiencys in its interior. It is a nice car to drive, but I would never own one. My father plans on keeping it for a little while longer, and then trading it in for a Lexus, which is what he had before.
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