9. BMW 7 Series – Take that, S-Class
Base price range: $81,000-$97,400 (estimated)
Having been overshadowed by the stunning Mercedes-Benz S-Class the previous two years, BMW counters with a major remake of its own flagship for 2016, the 7 Series. BMW’s biggest sedan will come only in a long-wheelbase version that more or less resembles a sleeker-looking version of the outgoing generation car. Here, however, the bodywork makes extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic as a weight-saving measure. We’ve yet to drive one, but carrying around less bulk should help make the car quicker, more agile and get better fuel economy.
The base rear-drive 740i comes powered by a 320-horsepower twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, while the all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive packs a 445-horsepower twin-turbo V8. Either way an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard that works with the navigation system to anticipate and execute shifts based on the car’s route. A plug-in hybrid model is expected to join the line later in 2016. Though we’ve yet to get our hands on one for a test drive, there’s a new active steering system and active stabilizers at work in the car’s standard air suspension that are said to improve the car’s handling abilities. A new self-parking system will automatically pull the large sedan into or out of either parallel or perpendicular parking spaces remotely, operated by the key fob, including (according to the automaker) those tighter than most such systems are currently able to negotiate. The car’s new infotainment system now includes gesture controls for the display screen that work like an iPad, as well the usual IDrive rotary controller. There’s tasteful ambient lighting throughout the plush passenger cabin, with an optional 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins audiophile system to enliven the mood and reclining seats with electrically powered footrests for the relaxation of back-seat riders. The new 7 Series may not be as over the top elegant as the S-Class, but it’s sure getting close.