Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Battle Of The Flagship Plug-In Hybrids: 2018 BMW 740e AWD VS 2018 S90 T8 E AWD Inscription

Highlights: The BMW 740e and Volvo S90 T8 e, which are flagship cars for their respective brands, are powered by both gasoline and electricity. The BMW and Volvo plug-in hybrids are only available in an all wheel drive configuration.

BMW 740e AWD MSRP: $99,845 (Base Price: $91,695)

Volvo S90 T8 e AWD MSRP: $82,140 (Base Price: $64,645)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features:

BMW: ABS; air bags; a hill start assist system; active front headrests; a rearview camera; automatic high beam; a 10-inch infotainment screen; a navigation system; a radar activated cruise control system; a tire pressure system; and parking distance controls

Volvo: ABS; air bags; a blind spot information system with cross alert; a run off road protection and run off mitigation system; a pilot assist system with radar cruise control; a lane keep assist system; a driver alert system; a city safety system with steering support; a full speed mitigation system targeting pedestrians, cyclists and large animals; whiplash protection front seats; active bending lights; a headlight high pressure cleaning system; power retracting side view mirrors; rain sensing windshield wipers; a tire repair kit; and an electronic stability control system

Standard Equipment:

BMW: 20-inch wheels; a 9-speed automatic transmission; power front seats; leather; 10-inch infotainment screen; an electric parking brake; power folding heated side mirrors; an engine start/stop gas saving feature; power trunk lid opener/closer; an automatic 4-zone climate control system; an automatic tilt down rearview mirror; a panoramic sunroof; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; an in-car Wi-Fi system; a wireless charging system; and a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel

Volvo: 19-inch wheels; a panoramic moonroof with a power sunshade; dual integrated tailpipes; Nappa leather; heated/ventilated front seats; power front seat with driver’s memory; power front seat cushion extension; a navigation system; a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system; smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; rear seat USB connections; a leather steering wheel; walnut wood inlays via the instrument panel; a clean zone air quality system; automatic dimming interior mirror; a cooled glovebox; a 4-zone automatic climate control system; power operated sun curtains (rear window and rear side doors); laminated side windows; and a power folding rear head restraint  

Optional Features On Test Vehicle:

BMW: a heated steering wheel; a front and rear heated seats; a heads up display system; a blind spot detection system; a lane departure warning system; a lane keep assistance with a side collision assistance; a traffic jam assistance system; a radar activated cruise control system; a 360-degree camera; a parking assistance system; a panoramic skyroof; and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility

Volvo: 20-inch wheels; heated front water nozzles; a power trunk lid; a 360-degree surround view mirror; a home link garage door system; a 12-volt power outlet; a park assist system; a front park assist system; front seat backrest massage; heated rear seats; a deluxe rear seat center armrest; ventilated sun visors; metallic paint; a graphical head up display system; a Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system; and a premium rear air suspension system

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle:

BMW: a Harman Kardon 16-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD with a 600-watt SiriusXM audio system

Volvo: a 10-speaker, 330-watt SiriusXM audio system

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty:

BMW: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Volvo: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty:

BMW: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Volvo: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower

BMW: 4-cylinder/255-horsepower

Volvo: 4-cylinder/400-horsepower

Standard Hybrid Battery Warranty:

BMW: 8 years/80,000 miles

Volvo: 8 years/100,000 miles

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage:

64-MPGe/27-MPG combined

71-MPGe/29-MPG combined

What’s New:

BMW: A plug-in hybrid arrived during the 2017 model year. BMW’s flagship vehicle is literally a carryover this model year.

Volvo: The S90 made its debut in 2017. This year a plug-in hybrid joined the brand’s portfolio.

The Facts:

BMW: According to, the 740, has a total driving range of 340 miles. The 740, which offers a variety of driving modes, is capable of traveling up to 14 miles on a full electric charge.

The contemporary designed flagship plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter, twin turbo engine. The German vehicle, which is a super sized version of the popular 5 series, is capable of delivering 255-horsepower, making this the most powerful 4-cylinder ever built by the German carmaker. And while any horsepower under 300 may seem underpowered for a flagship luxury sedan, surprisingly, we found it to be more than adequate for a vehicle that rides on a 207-inch frame and curb weight of 4,740 pounds.

And, as far as the exterior design, such modifications, as the charge port door that is situated near the front left tire, are just one of a few of the subtle indications that this 7 series is a hybrid.

With this being a plug-in hybrid, which still sports the brand’s signature kidney grille, BMW’s design team realized they had to balance the old technology with the new. So, while a variety of the instrument panel gauges, as well as the infotainment system, incorporated driving and charging data related to the hybrid system, they managed to keep the brand’s iDrive system, which controls the infotainment and the driving modes.

Moreover, while BMW’s flagship hybrid was available in a variety of driving modes, the road manners and driving characteristics reminded us more of the Buicks and Lincolns of yesteryear, as opposed a German engineered vehicle. Let us be clear, in no way are we saying the vehicle floated over the road, but the suspension and drive settings were not harsh and unforgiving.

Also being that the 7 series is only available as a long wheelbase model, rear seat occupants should welcome the additional legroom. Although BMW is known for building driver oriented performance vehicles, this 7 series, which offered wide front seats with a multitude of adjustments, was designed with those who prefer to be chauffeured, as opposed to being behind the wheel.

And earlier we slightly made note that 7 series continues to operate with the brand’s signature iDrive infotainment controller. This prominent rotary dial application serves as the link to adjust the audio and navigation system. Despite the iDrive system experiencing some lag time, when it’s queued to change a radio channel or adjust the driving mode, thankfully BMW design team created duplicate knobs to expedite the process.

Furthermore, the vehicle also uses gesture controls to adjust the temperature and stereo volume too. So, with this high tech car, there are literally three ways to adjust many of the features tied into the infotainment system.

Lastly, the 7-series, offers the latest high-tech safety driving aids, helping to navigate the solid built vehicle.

Volvo: According to, the extremely stylish S90, which reminds us of a well tailored suit, has a total driving range of 410 miles. The S90, which is deeply rooted in a Sweden heritage, is capable of driving up to 21 miles on a full electric charge. The brand’s flagship car, which also offer a range of driving modes, is powered by a supercharged turbo engine, which delivers an astounding 400-horsepower.

The Volvo, which has and overall length of 200 inches, is available in one wheelbase. The curb weight of the Volvo is 4,012 pounds. And the cargo volume is 13.5 cubic feet.

The luxurious, well-balanced road vehicle is considered a standout in automotive circles, since it is one of the few vehicles outfitted with a standard co pilot assist system. This advanced system literally simplifies the driving process. As long as there are well defined road lines on both sides of the road, driving is a breeze, especially on long road trips or during the midst of rush hour traffic. 

In fact, we found this semi-autonomous vehicle to be very helpful, while navigating midday traffic. The car literally centered itself, while controlling the acceleration and braking. As the long the car does not come to a complete stop, the S90 decelerated and accelerated without the driver’s assistance. It simply made driving less stressful as the speed fluctuated. Thus, we were only charged with keeping our hands on the steering wheel.

Furthermore, the elegantly curated S90 interior designers, thoughtfully orchestrated the layout of every feature, from the crystal-like gear shifter to brand’s signature orthopedic seats.

Lastly, the Volvo hybrid, which is available in two trims, driving characteristics can be configured to adjust to a variety of driving modes. Oh yes, and we can wrap up this section without making note of the audio system, which allowed us to select from a variety of listening modes in order to replicate a world class experience.


BMW: There is no standard-length BMW available. This could be the reason why the limo-like vehicle drove more like an American sedan of yesterday, as opposed to the performance-oriented machine we expected from a German engineered company

And adding on features can be quite pricey, literally driving the price to the six figure range.

Lastly, don’t look for Android capability in this BMW. However, Apple CarPlay is a $300 option.

Volvo: The Volvo is still relatively new to the ultra luxury class. The outgoing S70, which was non hybrid, was pitted more so against such brands as Acura, Infiniti and Buick. However, the newer Volvos are aiming toward the likes of BMW, Lexus and even Genesis, especially in terms of the overall size of the vehicle.

While the S90 is priced in the luxury range, we were in awe that the vehicle lacked a power tilt steering wheel. Only a manually operated steering wheel is available. Go figure.

Lastly, the touch and swipe infotainment screen system, which mirrors that of an ipad, requires a tutorial session for the driver to operate the complex system. Literally everything is integrated into the system, from the power rear sunshade control to the heated seats adjustment to the operation of the audio system. Ford, whom once owned Volvo, steered away from this system a few years ago, re-adding duplicate buttons and knobs to compliment their touchscreen Sync system. Why hasn’t Volvo taken a page from Ford in this area?

Although Volvo’s current infotainment system is seemingly simpler than the rows of extremely tiny buttons found in the previous generations of Volvo, it’s not as user friendly, as the systems found in such luxury makes as Genesis' G80 or Lincoln’s Continental.

Verdict: While many would question, why would we evaluate two luxury plug-in hybrids that normally competes in different segments, our response is that the midsize and fullsize luxury vehicles are virtually the same, despite the length and few features to personalize the vehicle.

As of now, these are the only two luxury flagship sedans available as plug-in hybrid designed to navigate winter weather. The American designed Cadillac CT6, which is also available as a plug-in, is only available in a rear wheel drive configuration.

And since Volvo does not offer a vehicle that plays in the same segment as the 7 series nor does BMW offer a 5 series to compete against the S90, we saw both vehicles as a suitable match. We also must note we have not gotten our hands on a CT6 plug-in hybrid. With that said, we wanted to take two luxury cars, which are considered flagships in their respective brands.

There were noticeable differences, the Volvo, which obviously offered a lowered price point was outfitted with such exclusive features, as a co pilot assist system as well as turbo charge 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid system. Volvo also offered a better hybrid battery warranty, while also inking out more driving time with a full electric charge.

The BMW offered a vehicle, with a less complicated infotainment system, that provides three means to adjust the system. BMW has also been in the game a minute, as relates to building flagship cars. BMW pushes the luxury envelope offering more rear seating comfort, as well as a power operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Volvo is relatively still new in squeezing its way into the premium luxury arena.

Two cultures, a Chinese owned company with a Swedish heritage, or a German design vehicle is at play here, which one better suits you?

Is a plug-in hybrid worth it? Both come up short as it relates to the driving range. The next step for both automakers is to provide more driving range. BMW has proved they’re capable of doing it with the i3. Volvo is making plans to go all electric, with its upcoming performance brand from Polestar.

We know that all electric vehicles are the future of luxury brands, following suit behind Tesla, which is having issues with build quality. The brands we reviewed have tested the water. While the driving range is limited, when using electricity, the automakers wanted to meet EPA mileage regulations prior to the recent about face by the current U.S. administration.

So, for those looking to go green in a few of today’s flagships, here are the options, a plug-in with more horsepower and self driving features or a German engineered plug-in, with gestures controls and a less complicated iDrive system.

Lastly, we would steer clear of buying a plug-in and consider leasing, since we all know more driving range is coming.

Competition: Cadillac CT6 Plug-In ($76,090 Base Price)

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