The 7-series now matches its new X7 SUV counterpart, thanks to its drastically enlarged kidney grilles. By BMW’s own measurement, they’re 40 percent bigger than before, and they lend a newfound sense of presence to the biggest Bimmer four-door, even if they look a bit ridiculous. Other changes to the 2020 7-series include updates for the optional V-8 engine, a revised plug-in hybrid model, and plenty of new tech features—including an option for hands-free driving under certain circumstances.
Need another sign SUVs are calling the shots these days? BMW’s 7 Series flagship sedan is adopting design cues from the brand-new X7, BMW’s massive three-row sport utility vehicle. BMW unveiled the refreshed 2020 7 Series with numerous design changes, an upgraded V8 powertrain, and a new six-cylinder PHEV, among several upgrades throughout the car. And yes, it has a big nose.
The most notable and outward shift is the adoption of a larger kidney grille, 40 percent bigger to be exact, according to BMW. It strongly resembles the big-dog X7’s front fascia, a design certain people thought was even too big for an SUV. Now it’s on a sedan, although BMW does say the front end is two inches taller at its highest point compared to the 2019 model.
More important, the 7 Series receives major changes to its powertrain lineup. In addition to improvements to the eight-speed automatic transmission and the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the 7 Series lineup becomes more powerful and more eco-friendly.
For 2020, BMW is ditching the turbocharged inline-four in its 740e xDrive PHEV in favor of a plug-in hybrid powertrain that uses a 280-horsepower inline six-cylinder mill. That is paired with an electric motor that makes 113 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Now called the 745e xDrive, it will make a total of 389 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque in sport mode, good enough for a claimed 0-60 sprint of 4.9 seconds (the outgoing model made 322 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and ran 0-60 in 5.1 seconds).
BMW says the 745e will have an improved lithium-ion battery pack with a 12.0 kWh (10.4 kWh net) capacity compared to the old model’s 9.2 kWh. BMW did not yet mention how far the 745e could travel on electric-only power.
The V8 powertrain is also getting an upgrade. In the 2020 750i xDrive, the overhauled twin-turbocharged V8 will now make 80 more horsepower than the outgoing model, up to 523 between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm. Torque is increased by 74 lb-ft, up to 553 lb-ft between 1,800 and 4,600 rpm. BMW claims it can sprint from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Other powertrain options include the 335-horsepower turbocharged inline-six in 740i models, and the granddaddy 600-horsepower twin-turbocharged V12 on the M760i. This announcement made no mention of the Alpina model.
The kidney grille isn’t the only design nip on the 2020 7 Series. Although the car as a whole looks similar, subtle changes keep it current and up-to-date. The headlights have been redesigned with a slimmer profile, and BMW’s Laserlight will be available as an option above the standard LEDs. The hood has been redesigned with slightly more aggressive lines, the side mirrors have been tweaked, the front bumper now has “air deflectors” on the air intakes to funnel cooling to the brakes, and the side “Air Breathers” have bigger air outlets.
The rear underwent similar alterations. The tailpipes are wider, the taillights are slimmer, and the 2020 7 Series now has a light bar that stretches across the tail. Completing the look, 740i and 745e models will sit on standard 18-inch wheels, 750i models have standard 19-inch wheels, and the M760i will have 20-inch wheels as standard.
Inside, not much is different, as most of the changes come via updated technology and improved ride quality. The 7 Series has a new digital instrument cluster to pair with its large infotainment screen that sits atop the dash, and the steering wheel has been slightly tweaked and now features a chrome fascia. BMW claims it has improved the acoustics for a more serene drive by adding more shielding, more insulation and by increasing the thickness of the laminated glass.
The updated 2020 7-series models go on sale in April. Prices haven’t been announced yet, but shouldn’t change much from the current car, which ranges from $84,645 for the 740i up to $159,395 for the top-dog M760i