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2003 ICOTY Awards - Luxury

Most Respected - BMW 7 Series
2003 BMW 7-Series

Leaders don't always have it easy. They take charge, but they have to take responsibility, too. They take credit, but they take flack. Leaders go first, and it's not always easy to blaze the trails. But every once in a while, for a job well done, leaders accept awards.

No car currently on the market embodies what leadership is all about than the controversial new BMW 7-Series. Its styling has courage you seldom see in such a traditionally conservative class of automobile. Its luxury features are without peer. But most importantly, the true mark of its leadership is the way that it has revolutionized the way that it goes about its business. From its "key" to its turn signal to its controversial iDrive controls for radio, climate control, navigation and more, it compels you to reconsider and rethink the way you operate an automobile. The big Seven represents a quantum leap forward from the conventions of the past into a future that many of us have longed to bring into the present.

The Seven has power, and plenty of it: 325 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque in the 745i. And it feels like it has even more. BMWs have always harnessed their horses in a most efficient way, consistently achieving acceleration times that belie their horsepower numbers. The Seven also handles, thanks to large-diameter wheels and sophisticated suspensions. Seriously, no car this big has any right to dance the way it does.

But the Seven-Series is first and foremost a luxury car. The optional heated and cooled front seats adjust in a bazillion directions. Even the headrests have separate, adjustable pillows. The dashboard cabinetry is delicious. Touching and spinning the metal iDrive disc is a sensation to be savored, a quality that makes climbing the system's steep learning curve that much more enjoyable.

Speaking of iDrive, the system may take a bit to master (four or five days of "normal" operating conditions), but once you get it, all other cars will seem passé. Not all leaders have posed popular ideas, but sometimes, they really work. And iDrive works.

So the Seven is as an everyday luxury car as much as Napoleon Bonaparte was your everyday French farmer. Trust us when we say that what BMW has achieved with the new Seven, others will be sure to emulate.

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
BMW 7 Series

Most Likely to Change the World
ECO- Friendly Car of the Year
Honda Civic

Most Likely to Survive Anything
SUV of the Year
Hummer H2