The Ultimate Movie Machine: The 2023 BMW 760i xDrive
Luxury brands and corporate ownership are funny things. If a Lexus is "just a fancy Toyota" as some insist, is a BMW "just a slightly less wealthy person's Rolls-Royce"?
Even though BMW has owned Rolls-Royce for 20 years, that's a suggestion that would have been unthinkable. Limousines and sport sedans are entirely different things.
2023 brings us a new BMW 7-series. And while the big Bimmer has always been more of an executive jet than a fighter plane, the new 760i, equipped the right way, seems to be suggesting that it's time to hire someone else to drive.
There's still plenty of firepower under the hood of the 760i xDrive---a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 aided by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. 536 horsepower and 0-60 sprints of a mere 4.2 seconds. All-wheel-drive, with an eight-speed Sport Automatic transmission, with Sport and Manual shift modes, shift paddles and launch control.
Fuel economy? The EPA estimates 18 city/26 highway/21 combined.
Base price for the 2023 BMW 760i xDrive Sedan is $114,595 including destination. That gets you the engine, transmission and suspension goodies mentioned above, plus a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system, a three-spoke leather-wrapped M sport steering wheel, Live Cockpit Pro, including navigation, a digital instrument cluster operated by voice and iDrive controllers, three drive modes, glass control knobs, Connected Package Pro, with real-time traffic and on-street parking in select cities, remote engine start, keyless access, a heated steering wheel, multi-function power front seats with memory, a panoramic Sky Lounge (that's what they call it) LED roof, adaptive full LED headlights, parking assistant and back-up assistant and a comprehensive suite of active safety features.
While there is fun to be had behind the steering wheel of the 2023 BMW 760i, there is one extra-cost option package ($7,250) that suggests the party is, in fact, in the back. It's the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package. It allows for reclining rear seats, with footrest, an Executive Lounge rear console----and this:
This, thrill seekers, is the 31.3-inch BMW Theater Screen. It folds up to the headliner when not in use and folds down behind the front seats to stream content from Amazon's Fire TV or from your personal devices.
That? That's not an iPhone in a rear door holder. No, that's the controller that is built into the armrest of each rear door. It controls temperature, entertainment, window shades, lights and the raising and lowering of the BMW Theater Screen.
Unless you sit in your driveway with the car parked, though, the only way you get to have a mobile movie night is if someone else is driving. And that person needs to be a bit vertically challenged. The screen will only descend if the front seats are far enough forward. Far enough that five-eleven worth of yours truly felt scrunched at the wheel. So when you place the "help wanted" ad for the driver, be sure to specify 5'9" and under.
That's just the beginning of the extra-cost option list for our test car. There's also the Autobahn Package (Active Comfort Drive w/Preview and Active Roll Stabilization) for $3,600, the Driving Assistance Pro Package (Active Driving Assistant Pro and Highway Assistant) for $2,100, BMW Individual Composition (a coordinating Alcantara headliner) for $5,450, the Luxury Rear Seating Package (multi-function rear massaging seats) for $3,000, the M Sport Professional Package for $950, the Parking Assistance Package for $900 and the Executive Package (automatic doors, crystal headlights and front massaging seats) for $3,700. Past the packages, there are also a few individual options---21-inch M Aerodynamic jet black wheels for $1,300, climate comfort laminated glass for $1,300, an interior camera for $100, and an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system for $4,800.
If you're thinking that adds up---it does. To $149,045.
These are interesting times we live in. I'd call a 7-Series BMW with a movie screen in the rear seat for almost $150K absolutely nuts were it not for the fact that that's 82 grand less than the Maybach without a movie screen that I drove a year ago.
Which one is better? That is, as they say, a decision above my pay grade.