The Inside

The interior styling is all-new, but BMW has taken an evolutionary approach, as there's still a strong resemblance to the previous generation's cabin. Befitting this class, it's decked out with rich materials like wood trim and stitched leather. The S-Class' cabin is one of the nicest in this segment, and the new 7 Series' interior is definitely on par with it.

There are a few relatively big changes, one of which is that the stalk-like gear selector on the steering column has been replaced with BMW's new-generation console gear selector that's already in models like the X5 crossover. It looks and operates a lot like a fancy joystick; there's not the backward or forward movement through the gears like you'd have with a traditional gear selector. Instead, just rock it forward or backward to shift into Reverse or Drive.

The other big change is BMW's revamped iDrive system, which is standard. It still operates by rotating and nudging a large dial on the center console, but now there are more direct-access buttons around the knob for controlling the stereo and navigation system. Ironically, because iDrive's new on-screen interface is much improved, I didn't often have need for the buttons. On-screen menus are so critical to these knob-based systems, which include Mercedes' Comand and Audi's Multi Media Interface. Comand has been my favorite principally because its menus are the most logical and intuitive to navigate, but with the strides BMW has made with its latest version of iDrive, Mercedes' advantage is essentially gone.

The 750i is a big car, but its backseat isn't roomier than a number of family sedans, like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. There's enough legroom and space in general to get settled, though. To compete with the amount of backseat room offered by the S-Class, you have to choose the long-wheelbase 750Li, which has a wheelbase that's been stretched 5.5 inches for greater backseat space. (The S-Class only comes in one length.)

That said, the 750i's outboard rear seats are quite comfortable. They're covered in upscale leather, and the backrest itself is nicely sculpted, which provides some extra support around the shoulders. The backseat is only suitable for two adults, though, as the center seat's hard cushioning, limited headroom and large floor hump combine to make an inhospitable spot. Heated outboard rear seats are optional.

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