To really test out the capabilities of the 2021 BMW 740i xDrive, I took the luxury sedan on an epic, 3,000 mile road trip from Los Angeles to Austin, TX, (and back). Driving the big 7-series on such a long adventure gave me the opportunity to drive the car in all kinds of conditions, from long freeway cruises to the curving roads of Texas Hill Country.
The 740i was a pleasure to have with me on the road trip, providing a luxurious, comfortable environment, reasonable fuel economy and a truly state-of-the-art suite of driver assistance, infotainment and safety technology.
With a twin-turbo inline-6 engine offering up 335 horsepower, the 740i is the slightly less powerful incarnation of BMW’s flagship, full-size luxury sedan. You get a luxuriously appointed car with ample room for five adults and their luggage.
This luxury car is a serious driver’s car, as evidenced by BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, which means all the key driver info is right in front of you on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. This driver’s car is also a serious luxury car with a limo-like rear seat and it’s used around the world for executive car services.
The base price of the 2021 BMW 740i xDrive is $89,450. With options, including the Cold Weather Package ($750), the Driver Assistance Pro Package ($1,700) and the Premium Package ($3,000), this 740i priced out at $102,895. Additional options included the 20-inch V-spoke wheels ($2,600), Icon Adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight ($1,000) and the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400).
In case you didn’t know, the xDrive designation means the car has all-wheel-drive. A non-xDrive, rear-wheel-drive model is also available at a slightly lower price ($86,800 base). If you want something more powerful, you can get the 750i with a twin-turbo V8, the M760i with a twin-turbo V12 or the Alpina B7 with a highly tuned twin-turbo V8.
If you had the stamina to drive straight through, you could make it from LA to Austin in about 20 hours. I decided to cut it into two days, driving about ten hours each day, then cutting that into two, five-hour drives. Most of the drive is done on Interstate 10 and I stopped for the night in El Paso, which is about half-way. Then I drove from El Paso to Austin on Day Two.
In El Paso, I stayed at the Tru by Hilton El Paso East, which was a very nice, stylish, cost-conscious choice. I used my Hilton Honors app (including a digital key) to reserve my room, check-in virtually and go straight to my room for a safe, virtually touchless experience.
On the freeway, the BMW just glides along. It gives the perfect combination of a luxurious ride while maintaining a driver-focused road feel. I made constant use of the 740’s Active Driving Assistant Pro, part of the optional ($1,700) Drivers Assistance Pro Package. This is BMW’s self-driving system and it made those long stretches of road in Texas quite comfortable to navigate. You barely need to touch the wheel every few seconds and the car steers itself.
On the return trip, I stopped in a few places along US Highway 290 in Texas Hill Country. These rolling hills east of Austin are now home to almost 100 vineyards and wineries, the majority of which have their tasting rooms.
I also stopped in the historic town of Fredericksburg which has some cool little shops (over 150), winery tasting rooms and cafes along Main Street. The town was founded by German immigrants in the mid-19th century and retains many period buildings. I even stopped at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, his former ranch and home.
The 740i really reacts well to changes in the drive mode, which BMW calls Driving Dynamics Control. Put the car in Sport mode and it’s a wonderfully exciting and responsive sports sedan, wringing out every possible horsepower and foot-pound of torque from that I-6.
In Comfort mode, it’s a soft, floating luxury car and although a bit sluggish, and in Eco-Pro mode I was able to get just under 29 mpg over the course of the 3,000 mile drive.
Suspension and handling (the car has both Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control) are both excellent with great response to the drive mode selection. In Comfort mode, the car just floats down the road; in Sport mode, it tightens up into a (large) sports sedan with typical German precision.
You also get very precise shifts from the 8-speed STEPTRONIC transmission, which always seems to be in the perfect gear. It has steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters but I never had to use them as the transmission is so responsive.
With quilted, ivory white Nappa leather seats, the interior of the 740i was breathtaking and a beautifully striking contrast to the sparkling arctic grey metallic exterior paint. The materials and the workmanship were both top quality, as you would expect from BMW.
The Nappa leather is just so buttery soft and the seats (both front and back) were extremely comfortable whether you’re going around the block or on a long drive.
Additional luxury features included things like soft-close automatic doors, a panoramic moonroof, fineline blackwood trim, a limo-like rear seating area and four-zone climate control.
Although filled with every kind of driver aid and safety technology, it all works seamlessly as you drive without being distracting. BMW’s Active Driving Assistant comes with everything from lane-keeping alerts to pedestrian detection along with many other collision avoidance systems.
Cool tech highlights include gesture control for the sound and climate control systems (just wave your finger to make adjustments) and some incredible, disco-level multi-color ambient interior lighting. BMW’s Caring Car feature brings self-care to your car with a multi-sensory experience using the ambient lighting, climate control and sound systems. There’s an “Energize” program to wake you up or a “Relax” program to calm you down.
Eating and Staying in Austin
Texas’ capital city is all about BBQ and I made sure to pay a visit to one of the best places to get it, Black’s BBQ. If you want to avoid the long lines, do what I did and visit a few minutes before closing time. Making BBQ fans happy since 1932, the family-owned, old-school BBQ joint first opened in Lockhart, Texas, a small town outside Austin.
In Austin, I stayed at the elegant Fairmont Austin, located downtown, adjacent to Lady Bird Lake. You can see a tour of my suite here. The luxury hotel, which is following strict health and safety practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, has stylish rooms and suites, some with amazing views of the Austin skyline. Be sure to take a swim in the rooftop pool, also offering great views from the 37th floor.
Freddy Sherman is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. To follow Freddy directly, you can find more of his content at luxuryfred.com and: