Two words describe the all-new 2002 BMW 745i luxury-sport sedan, a marvel of German engineering and cutting-edge technology.Complicated and controversial.Complicated in ways that most luxury-car owners can't even begin to imagine. And controversial in terms of its new styling, especially a "bustle-back" rear end that looks incongruously like a step back in time.The most controversial item on our $75,795 test car -- the new iDrive controller -- was not the only feature that prompted two diverse opinions in our household.She: Instead of cleaning the house on Saturday mornings like I've done for 24 years, I've been going up to a little airport in Macomb County and learning to fly airplanes.He: What happened to your broom?She: My teacher says it will take a minimum of 40 hours to get my basic pilot's license. I bring all this up because the cockpit of the Piper Challenger I'm learning on reminds me of the cabin of the BMW 7-series. Yes, we had a half-hour of private instruction when we first got the new BMW. But it wasn't enough, because very little in the cabin is familiar. It is by far the most unnecessarily complicated car I've ever been in. And I kept wondering -- why? Especially in an era of endless preaching about driver distraction on every TV talk show.He: Let me answer your question about why before I get distracted. I ordered a new Apple G4 computer recently, and it came equipped with the new Mac OS X. This is a big deal because the new operating system is full of lots of whiz-bang technology, just like the new 7-series. Unfortunately, it also comes with a steep learning curve, just like the BMW. There have been several days where I've been tempted to throw in the towel and go back to my old computer and operating system -- just like we've heard some frustrated buyers of the new 7 have returned to the dealership after a week, demanding their money back. But I stuck with it -- the car and the computer. Believe me, things do get easier after a few days behind the wheel.She: Not for me. You have to use that big round knob on the center console to control really basic things like climate, audio, navigation and communications. It's like a big joystick that you turn and click to use the various functions. But you have to take your eyes off the road to look at the center screen to see what you're doing. Our instructor actually told us to set everything before we started out. But what if you get hot or cold? What if you want to change the track on the CD? Why isn't this intuitive? Besides, the car is ugly. Do I need to say any more?He: Whew! Just let me tell all the guys out there that if you already know how to use a TV remote, you should have the iDrive licked in less than a week. Yes, it's a pain in the butt, but it turns out to be no big deal. As for the vehicle dynamics, no surprise that the new 7-series turns out to be one of the finest luxury-sport sedans on the road, just lik e its predecessor. An exceptional new feature is active roll stabilization, which keeps the car remarkably poised, even as you're diving into high-speed turns and trying to execute impossible maneuvers. The twin-cam 4.4-liter V-8, which is largely carried over from last year's car, is marvelously responsive, especially with the new six-speed automatic transmission. I wish BMW hadn't over-engineered the shift lever, which requires at least two motions to change into gear.She: OK, I will concede that the 7-series has some cool new features, like an optional power trunk lid that opens and closes at the push of a button. And you sure can't beat the safety features. I kept thinking, thank God for all the air bags in case I drive into a wall while I'm trying to figure out how to use the iDrive.He: I looked forward every day to sinking into those fancy air-conditioned leather seats -- a $2,500 option -- and feasting my eyes on that gorgeous expanse of matte-finish black cherry wood across the front of the instrument panel. This really is a stunning cockpit.She: If I'm spending this kind of money on all this technology that I don't understand in the first place, I might just as well go ahead and buy the dang plane.Anita's rating: (Acceptable)Paul's rating: (World class)Likes: In terms of vehicle dynamics, still one of the world's finest sport sedans. Powerful V-8 engine carried over from previous 7-series, with all-new six-speed automatic transmission. Outstanding safety features, including side air bags for front and rear passengers, air curtains, front knee air bags, rain-sensing wipers, active roll stabilization and stability control. Superior options, including $1,000 automatic trunk opening and closing, $700 park distance control.Dislikes: iDrive controls and screen are a monument to driver distraction. Geriatric styling. You'll need serious and significant instruction before feeling comfortable behind the wheel. Oversize dimensions make it difficult to park (Anita). Electronic gearshift lever seems overly complicated.Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger luxury sedan.Price: Base, $67,850; as tested; $75,795 (inc. $645 destination charge).Engine: 4.4-liter V-8; 325 hp; 330 lbs-ft torque.Fuel economy: 18 city/ 26 highway.12-month insurance cost, estimated by AAA Michigan (Rates may be higher or lower depending on coverage and driving record.): $1,799.Where built: Germany.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||April 10, 2002|
|Alan Vonderhaar||Cincinnati.com||August 10, 2002|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||June 1, 2002|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||May 3, 2002|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||April 21, 2002|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||March 30, 2002|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||March 27, 2002|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||March 14, 2002|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||February 17, 2002|
|Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||October 10, 2001|
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