If you’ve decided to spend upwards of six figures for an automobile you have a tremendous amount of options. And if you really have no clue as to what you may want, then you’re in a world of trouble. There’s sport-utility vehicles, luxury sedans, sport coupes, grand tourers, four-door coupes, four-door SUV coupes, and the list goes on.

While there’s more form factors than ever, this is where I make a plea for you to consider the traditional sedan. While it may be a bit of a snoozefest in today’s automotive landscape where there’s so much excitement, there’s two reasons why you should add a land yacht to your fleet. They’ve perfected them in form of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the all-new BMW 7-Series.

2016 BMW 7-Series

The latter is our subject.

All new for the 2016 model year, the BMW 7-Series has some catching up to do. That’s because the big daddy S-Class is the reigning benchmark in this category. Here’s the thing though: While the three-pointed star has reigned victoriously for what feels like eons, on paper the Bavarians have fielded a compelling product. That’s because the all-new 7-Series benefits from a slew of technology and cutting-edge engineering tricks in an attempt to steal the crown.

Although you would hardly know that judging by its exterior. Those who have an eye for detail will notice that the exterior has been completely revised, but if you were to park the last-gen 7 and the all-new one side-by-side, your average civilian would likely have a hard time distinguishing them apart from another. As one of those folks that obsess over design, personally, I find the makeover to be a step in the right direction. Overall, the design appears a bit more cohesive and a bit tighter — the last-gen car had a bit of bloat to it and was whale-ish. With the new 7, the gorgeous little things you find are stunning. Take, for example, the soft metal crease that follows BMW’s famous Hoffmeister kink, or the M Sport package’s blacked out “hockey stick” that makes the 7’s body appear less hefty from the side profile. While the “hockey stick” is a bit off-putting at first, after looking at it for a week and realizing how it adds value to the design, I came to appreciate it.

2016 BMW 7-Series

On the inside, the flagship Bimmer benefits from an all-new interior that completely caught me off guard when I slid into the driver’s seat. In fact, it’s a bit overwhelming — this is a good thing. It is elegantly finished with hide everywhere you touch and everywhere you wouldn’t, and in addition, there’s a TFT screen serving as your instrument panel and as controls for the HVAC located in the center stack. If you’re lucky enough to ride in the back seat you’ll be confronted with two back seats that have all the functionality of the front chairs. This means you get the heating, cooling and massage features and two extra bonuses: 1) A comfortable pillow for your head, and 2) a seven-inch Samsung tablet that serves as a rear seat dictator’s control unit. Very trick stuff, indeed.

While I’ve grown up with and driven plenty of BMWs, to date, nothing from the marque even comes close to this level of luxury. It is truly staggering. There’s just one thing though. Its design, inside and out, is understated.

One must wonder how much greater this all-new BMW would have been with a more striking exterior and interior design. It’s like the valedictorian with an IQ of 180 and a specialization in the sciences deciding that instead of going for the Nobel Prize that they would rather maintain a garden. Though both paths can lead to a happy life, you must admit that the latter wouldn’t lead this individual to exercise their full potential. It’s a wasted opportunity and that's the shame with the all-new 7.

But there are some things that really make the 7 stand out. Mostly it comes down to its breakthrough technology. Two of my favorite things are the Display Key and 3D Surround View.

The Display Key may sound a bit gimmicky but when you actually use it, is a nifty little gadget. With the 7 you can option the car with a larger key that features an embedded screen. Here the key will display various vehicle information and allow you to do some things we could have only dreamed of. Take, for example, the ability to program the vehicle’s HVAC system to start at a certain time and day. For me, this made leaving my house much easier knowing I would be getting into a warm car instead of a dead cold one in the middle of winter. In addition, while it was not available at the time of testing, the Display Key has the ability to let you step outside of the vehicle and you can park the 7-Series with the key. Seems a bit James Bond-like, doesn’t it? Bond used a phone to control his BMW 7-Series in the film Tomorrow Never Dies but that was all executed in reality through Hollywood magic.

3D Surround View takes the use of cameras around a vehicle to another level. Instead of simply using a rear-ward facing display or a “helicopter view,” this feature actually displays a three-dimensional image of your 7-Series on the infotainment screen and the various cameras around the vehicle stitch together a life-like image. It’s like looking at your 7 from the outside as you attempt to park, which is how most people having difficulty parking a large vehicle do it, except you politely ask your passenger — if you have one — to step out and assist. Rather than bother your co-pilot though you can simply gesture in front of the screen, and voila(!), you have a 360-degree perspective of your vehicle and its respective surroundings.

2016 BMW 7-Series

Here’s the thing though. We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet — how it drives. As expected in any vehicle adorned with the blue and white logo referencing the company’s history as an airplane engine manufacturer, it has to live up to being the ultimate driving machine. The 7 doesn’t disappoint.

Equipped with a bi-turbo, 4.4-liter V8 engine good for 445 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque, power is not a problem. Coupled with this motor is an eight-speed automatic transmission that does a delightful job of making shifts happen without your passengers knowing and it feels as though it’s reading the driver’s mind. Zero to 60 happens in a rather quick 4.3 seconds and the 7’s xDrive all-wheel drive system makes sure that getting traction isn’t problematic.

One thing that separates the 7-Series from the competition is its carbon fiber construction. Though it still weighs in at over 4,600 pounds, when you’re behind the wheel it doesn’t feel like that at all. I can’t say the same for the S-Class, which does feel heavy and tank-like. Don’t get me wrong, the 7 is not a ballerina but it does feel a significantly more lithe, especially when you’re putting it through some switchbacks and body roll is super controlled when in Sport mode.

While modern BMWs lack the steering feel of yore, which made the company’s products so eagerly desired, it too is very surprising. Not only does it continue making the large 7-Series feel smaller than it actually is, the steering rack is surprisingly direct. In fact, I think it feels more in tune with the driver than the much revered 4-Series — this is hard to believe but it’s true.

And then there is the ride quality. BMW really stepped up its game here. While the last-gen 7 felt more like a normal car, it feels like BMW AG learned some lessons for one of its other companies under its umbrella, Rolls-Royce. Now the suspension provides an über comfortable experience that’s, frankly, shocking. No BMW has ever felt this good and it reminds me of the “entry-level” Roller, the Ghost. In Comfort + mode the vehicle wafts along absorbing bumps with little drama and noise into the cabin. Dial it up to Sport mode and it will get more taut but without any of the negative effects typically associated with a tighter set up — jolting passengers. And, unlike the S-Class, the Bimmer lacks any of the “float” typically associated with an air suspension.

Well done, BMW!

For about two years now I’ve driven a couple Mercedes S-Class vehicles and I really thought that no one, even BMW, would come close to trumping it. But, after my experience with the all-new 7, I have to say that the BMW is the one I’d want to put in my driveway. While the standard Mercedes is a hair more comfortable it also is significantly less fun to drive. The BMW, on the other hand, makes me feel like I get my cake and can eat it too.

And to me, there’s nothing better than that.

The Good:

- I actually like its exterior design, there's some really nice details going on here
- Superb ride quality that provides you the best of both worlds — you get a coupe-like ride as well as a super comfortable tourer along the likes of a Rolls-Royce Ghost
- Although the 7-Series is not ideal for sports car maneuvers, it is astonishingly adept at being put into corners like a champ — just make sure it's in Sport mode

The Bad:

- A major disappointment that the 7 didn't break all-new design ground like the Vision Future Luxury — BMW will pay for this
- The interior verges on the line of having technology for technology's sake
- My driver's seat with the ventilation turned on started making a grinding noise on the second to last day before returning it — is this something you want to worry about when this BMW goes out of warranty?

The Lowdown:

While it seems that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class may still be the "must have" item for badge whores, I really think the 7 is the better product. It rides AND drives better. Of course, the biggest problem with the car is its rather staid exterior and interior design. If BMW took a walk on the wild side to make the exterior match the innovative carbon fiber construction it would have been a gamechanger. Instead, it's a bit pedestrian, which is a shame. I love the features but some of it seems to be a bit, well, ridiculous. One such example is the special ambient lighting for the rear seating area. Another is the rear seat passenger's tablet — what happens when it dies? Nothing is simple with modern cars but BMW may have outdone itself. One thing is certain though: It is a special product and I would argue one of the best products the company has made — Ms excluded.

2016 BMW 7-Series

REVIEW: Is The All-New BMW 7-Series BEATING The Mercedes-Benz S-Class At Its Own Game? 00R Reveals All HERE!

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