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BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7.

The overall look of the front end, which stands 2 inches taller for 2020, is more solid, even stern, despite the fact that the 7 Series retains the coupe-like roofline that was adopted when the latest-generation sedan was introduced for the 2016 model-year.

(First official look: new BMW SUV flagship. Click Here for more on the new X7.)

The new 7 Series is still considered the company's flagship vehicle, but for how long?

With the grille as big as its gotten, perhaps there was no other option for BMW designers than to opt for almost slit-like headlamps. The good news is that the new 7 Series also will offer buyers the option of either standard Adaptive Full LED lighting or the more advanced BMW Laserlight. The latter system projects its beam significantly further down the road though, because of American safety regulations, U.S. buyers won’t get the full-strength laser available in Europe.

The design tweaks aren’t limited to the face of the 2020 7 Series. The back end also has a more solid stance, with a new light bar stretching across the entire rear. There are also new, wider tailpipes completely the look.

What’s under that tall front end is another sign of change. As is the norm with the 7 Series, BMW is offering an array of powertrain options that include inline-6, V-8 and V-12 offerings. If you need to, read that list again and you’ll notice the sixth-generation sedan has abandoned the turbo-four from the outgoing 2019 740e xDrive PHEV.

BMW is offering an array of powertrain options that include inline-6, V-8 and V-12 offerings.

No, the automaker isn’t walking away from the plug-based model. Instead, it is launching a more gutsy and longer-range version dubbed the 745e xDrive. It pairs a 3.0-liter I-6 gas engine making 280 horsepower with a 113 hp electric motor. Because of the way the two powertrains package, the total output is a slightly smaller 389 hp – and 442 pound-feet of torque – than the math might suggest. That said, it’s a sizable improvement compared with the 322 hp and 369 lb-ft of the old 740e, and good for sprinting from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds.

(Click Here for a first look at BMW’s new 8-Series convertible.)

That’s not bad for a BMW, though PHEV buyers are more likely to fixate on a different number: range. Unfortunately, the advanced paperwork we’ve received from BMW doesn’t tell us anything about either range or fuel economy but we can’t but imagine there’ll be a fair bit of added distance considering the new plug-in adopts a 12.0 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, nearly a third larger than the old 9.2 kWh pack.

The 2020 model year brings the addition of the latest BMW infotainment system including the Bavarian equivalent of the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

While that’s the biggest powertrain update for 2020, the 2020 BMW 750i xDrive should satisfy potential buyers with the whopping 80 hp upgrade it will be getting. That brings it to a peak 523 horsepower, while torque jumps 74, to 553 lb-ft. Look for a 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds, impressive for a sedan with a curb weight of 4,722 pounds.

Beyond all that, look for relatively modest tweaks to the interior – at least in terms of what you can see. The 2020 model year brings the addition of the latest BMW infotainment system including the Bavarian equivalent of the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

Just say, “Hey, BMW,” and you’ll be able to issue commands in much more natural speech. Tell the car, “I’m cold,” and it will turn up the temperature; “Take me home,” and it will set up the navi system. Ask, “How far can I drive until I need to refuel?” and it will tell you what range is left.

(BMW offered up a “first look” at the new M340i and M340i xDrive. Click Here for the story.)

Look for range, mileage and pricing information to be released closer to the on-sale date for the new 2020 BMW 7 Series in April.

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