They haven't quite got the hang of those newfangled "crossover" vehicles, but the Bavarians do know how to build some of the world's best luxury/sport sedans. Or at least Paul thinks so. Anita has a different take.

According to him, the 2001 BMW 740i Sport is an outstanding example of the German automaker's craft. This $68,470 sedan embodies nearly every desirable attribute the well-heeled enthusiast craves, from exceptional performance and ride comfort to state-of-the-art safety.

According to her, the big Beemer is just plain silly. Keep reading ...

He: I approach my first drive in almost every new BMW with a little nervous anticipation and high expectations. Knowing the company's heritage as a longtime purveyor of great sport sedans, and based on past experiences, I expect each new model to provide a great drive, and I'm usually not disappointed. Some BMWs, of course, are more special than others. The latest edition of the 740i comes pretty close to being the perfect ride for a guy like me - pushing 48 years old, kids out of the house, loves to drive, but wants to be pampered a little.

She: For almost $70,000, shouldn't they also be rubbing your feet and massaging your scalp? I think these prices are getting out of hand. You also said the magic words - "a guy like me." Let's get real. This isn't exactly your typical family car. And I can't think of many professional women in this earnings bracket who would put a brand like BMW with such a macho reputation on their personal shopping list. As far as affluent women are concerned, I think Jaguar gets it.

He: From a styling standpoint, and in terms of the brand image, you're probably right. But BMW has not given short shrift to the luxury amenities you'd expect in this segment. The 7-series is absolutely loaded to the gills with stuff like leather upholstery, a glass moon roof, an automatic climate control system with dual controls and an emergency communication system.

She: I still think that onboard navigation system is difficult to figure out and program, especially if you're trying to drive. And what the heck are all those buttons on the steering wheel? Like I'm supposed to know that "I/O" is the on/off switch for the cruise control. And one more thing. Why hasn't BMW got around to putting the CD changer in the dash, like most of its competitors?

He: Gee, honey, did you like ANYTHING about this car?

She: I'm not finished. The steering feels too heavy. And when you sit behind the wheel, that ugly hump over the instrument panel is intimidating. I don't like that hooded effect. In fact, the whole cabin looks dark and daunting. Probably just the thing for you sports fans, right? And that redwood trim - too dark. But actually, now that you mention it, I did like the terrific safety features, including the new run-flat tires.

He: Let me tell you about that fancy Vavona redwood. It's part of the $2,800 Sport pack age, which includes a firmer suspension, a clutchless Steptronic transmission, a more aggressive final drive ratio and neat matte-black exterior trim. By the way, you can't get the run-flat tires with the Sport package. Instead, you get low-profile 18-inch performance radials, which really don't compromise the ride comfort that much. Handling, as you might expect, is really first-rate. And the twin-cam 4.4-liter V-8 accelerates like Michael Johnson in the 400 meters, even with the five-speed automatic. You have to admit that the styling is really classic BMW.

She: Classic tank, you mean. The 7-series looks big and kind of square to me, almost like my old Volvo. But I do like that Shadowline exterior trim. The matte black looks more casual than the usual chrome you see on luxury cars. But then what are you paying for?

He: World-class performance, world-class comfort, world-class safety. Need I say more?

She: I think you've said enough. The 740i is silly. I el sorry for people who feel they need to buy this car to boost their business image or impress the neighbors. I'll take the Jaguar, thank you.

Anita's rating: Acceptable

Paul's rating: World class)

Likes: Exceptional performance in a big sedan. Outstanding safety features, including side air bags and stability control. Classic BMW styling. Loads of high-tech features. Superb brakes.

Dislikes: No in-dash CD player. Rather pricey. Onboard navigation system is complex.

Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger luxury sedan.

Price: Base, $62,900; as tested, $68,470 (inc. $570 destination charge).

Engine: 4.4-liter V-8; 282-hp; 324 lb-ft torque.

EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $1,868 (Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record).

Where built: Germany.