1998 BMW 740

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1998 BMW 740
Available in 2 styles:  740i 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
$613–$6,529
Estimated MPG

17 city / 23.9 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

By 

chicagotribune.com
As we've often said, Volvo doesn't have a lock on safety, clearly evident by a test drive of the 1998 BMW 740iL sedan, a vehicle packed with safety innovation that also packs a wallop.

The 740iL proves you can be safe and have fun--or have fun and be safe.

There are two front air bags and two side-impact air bags as well as a new Head Protection System, or HPS, that works with the side bags. Even rear-seat passengers can be protected by optional ($385) side-impact bags.

And the pair of front bags are the dual-threshold variety that use some "smart" bag technology. The system "reads" whether the occupant is belted. If belted, the bag deploys at high speed, if unbelted, the bag deploys at a lower speed. If no one is in the seat, the bag doesn't deploy.

HPS basically is a hollow woven tube that runs from the A pillar (at the windshield) along the roof above the driver and passenger doors to the B pillar between the front and rear doors. On impact, it inflates with air and pops down to protect the head while the side bags protect the chest.

That makes the 740iL safe, to be sure. But, as noted, it's also fun to drive--in comfort and style. That's especially so in the long-wheelbase version we tested. It's built on a 120.9-inch wheelbase and is 201.7 inches long, versus the regular version with a 115.4-inch wheelbase and 196.2-inch overall length. The long-wheelbase little limo is the more popular of the two, especially with those who often carry adult passengers who appreciate unconfined room in back.

The 4.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 delivers 282 horsepower at 5700 r.p.m. and 310 foot-pounds of torque at 3,900 r.p.m. That means a burst of power off the line as well as the ability to scoot into the passing lane at cruising speed despite the vehicle's nearly 4,300 pounds.

The rear-wheel-drive 740iL comes with four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock that stop on a dime and give change and a 5-speed automatic that adapts to your driving habits to select the best shift pattern.

There's also all-season traction control to take the worry out of RWD-ing in the Midwest. With the traction system, ABS and very road-worthy 16-inch treads, plus excellent weight distribution, the car needn't be garaged in the winter as is typical for a high-performance car.

There are also a couple of neat features--the onboard navigation system and park-distance control.

The $2,800 navigation system pinpoints your location and your destination and directs you there, audibly telling you when to turn left or right. It also will locate the nearest service stations, restaurants and hospitals.

A 5-inch navigation screen in the dash also can be used to adjust the audio system, work as a cell phone, serve as a TV screen (not functioning in the U.S.) and even program the ventilation system so that if the car is parked at O'Hare in summer, you can exhaust the hot ai r and cool the cabin before you arrive.

When you leave the car, the system also will disable the fuel injectors to thwart potential thieves.

If you are lost or disabled, an emergency program allows you to press the "phone" icon in the steering column and your cell phone dials 911 for help. But you have to have a BMW phone, which is a $1,250 option.

General Motors' emergency system goes BMW's one better. In an accident in which the air bags deploy, OnStar phones for medical help on its own. BMW reportedly will add that to its navigation system soon.

One possible drawback to the navigation system is that there are so many features and so much detail, it would be easy to focus on the screen instead of the road.

Park-distance control is a $900 option similar to Parktronic at Mercedes-Benz. Sensors in your front and rear bumpers continuously send out signals when pulling into or backing out of the parking space or the garage.

G t within 24 inches of a fixed object--a pole, car or garage wall--and the system beeps. Get within 12 inches and the beep becomes a blare. It's popular for older drivers who may be having a problem with depth perception.

The 740iL comes with vehicle speed-sensitive power steering, vehicle speed-sensitive wipers, heated windshield wiper resting area, dual power/heated sideview mirrors, automatic tilt-down right sideview mirror that focuses on the curb when the gearshift lever is put in reverse, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power seats, power windows and power moonroof with key-off operation.

Other goodies include a shorter phone antenna that doesn't need to be removed at the car wash, a new luggage net in the trunk designed to keep smaller objects from being tossed about, automatic climate control with right/left settings and a charcoal filter, tilt and slide power moonroof, 16-way power seats and break-resistant security glass along the sides and back to prevent smash-and-grabbers or car jackers from entering your vehicle.

Other goodies include footrests for rear-seat passengers in the limo-like cabin, a glove box that opens and pulls forward so you don't have to bend or reach for contents, a portable flashlight in the glove box and a first-aid kit in the rear seat parcel shelf. All scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles is included in the price.

Some options worth considering are a heated steering wheel that's part of a cold-weather package (with headlamp cleaners and ski sack for the trunk) at $825; power-operated rear sunshades and manual pull up rear side window sunshades, $740; heated front seats, $750; break-resistant glass, $2,600; rear side-impact bags, $385; and self-leveling suspension at $1,100.

Though the 740iL is basically a fully equipped sedan, the addition of several of those options would make it even more desirable. But with a $2,800 navigation system, $1,250 BMW phone, $2,600 break-resistant glass, $385 rear-seat side air bags, $750 heated front seats, $2,100 premium sound system, $900 park distance control and $1,100 self-leveling suspension, the price of options alone will buy an economy car.

The long-wheelbase model starts at $65,020, the shorter wheelbase model at $61,640.




    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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