Big BMW sedan adds hybrid

FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 file picture, the BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid concept car is introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 file picture, the BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid concept car is introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza) (Jerry S. Mendoza - AP)

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By ANN M. JOB
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 11:36 AM

-- Gasoline-electric hybrid versions of BMW's big, 2011 BMW 7-Series sedans come with the federal government's lowest fuel economy rating of all regular-production hybrids.

But the 750i and 750iL ActiveHybrids are the quickest hybrid luxury sedans in showrooms, jetting from 0 to 60 miles an hour in a sports car-like 4.7 seconds.

They're also the only hybrid sedans that mate a twin-turbocharged V-8 to an onboard electric motor. The result: a whopping 455 horsepower and peak torque of 515 foot-pounds starting at 2,000 rpm.

These newest and most high-tech 7-Series sedans come at an $18,000 price premium over base 750i models.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $103,175 for the regular-wheelbase 750i ActiveHybrid. The longer-length 750iL hybrid starts at $107,075.

By comparison, the non-hybrid 2011 750i and 750iL have starting retail prices of $84,375 and $88,275, respectively.

Hybrid luxury sedan competitors to the 7-Series gas-electric hybrids include the 2011 Lexus LS600h L, which has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $112,225, and the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S400, which starts at $91,875.

Note that the Lexus hybrid uses a naturally aspirated V-8 for a maximum 438 horsepower, while the 295-horsepower Mercedes S400 has a V-6 powerplant.

As a result, the 2011 Mercedes S400 is rated at 19 miles a gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy website, while the 2011 LS600h L is rated at 19/23 mpg.

The BMW 750i ActiveHybrid - either regular wheelbase or long wheelbase - comes in with a 17/24-mpg rating on the EPA's list. I averaged 20 mpg city/highway during the test drive.

This is a far cry from the top-selling gas-electric hybrid car - the Toyota Prius, which is rated at 51/48 mpg with four-cylinder engine and electric motor.

Truth be told, a driver of a 7-Series ActiveHybrid can disable at least one of the features of the hybrid technology - the automatic turning off of the gasoline engine at stops to conserve fuel - by putting the gearshift lever into sport mode. This keeps the turbo V-8 at the ready for spirited and admittedly more traditional sporty driving.


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