As SUVs get bigger, BMW decided to enlarge their icon, X5 and created the X7. Is the X7 really the bigger version of X5 or practical version of the 7-Series? Though they may look similar wit the X5, the X7 is definitely a German Behemoth that offers unique luxury and comfort if you pay the premium.
With its 6-figure starting price, it does almost everything good and to be honest, it must be good to be able to compete in this very competitive segment. However, this makes our job more difficult to find any flaws unless you are very picky. In our test, we will not only review the good sides, but will try to explain what can be improved for the next generation or during the mid-cycle refresh.
Exterior and Interior
Aside from overall sizes, one of the biggest differences from the iconic X5, it is the only 3-row SUV option in BMW’s model lineup. This means it is significantly bigger than its smaller sister.
Though it is big, it carries same design elements compared not only to X5, but almost all BMW lineup. If you remove BMW emblems, it is noticeable from 2 miles away that this is a BMW. Same huge BMW grille, headlights, taillights, rims – BMW keeps it is traditional design all around the car.
Things are not really much different when you get inside the X7 and this is where it gets disappointing. The reason is not that it is bad, in fact it is an excellent interior, but too generic and it is almost same with almost all BMW lineup. A premium SUV with 6 figure price tag must have unique interior that should not make you feel like you are sitting in $40,000 3-Series. Again, our concern is not the interior quality, but the interior and mostly dashboard design.
If we look from the positive side, if you are currently driving a smaller BMW and would like to upgrade to X7, this will still feel like you are at home. From the first minute, you will know all button layout, infotainment system with few small difference.
As previously mentioned, material quality and craftsmanship is on par with 6-figure premium SUV, nothing surprising there. It can also offer great legroom and headroom all around the car, even in 3rd row. I (6’1″) can easily sit behind myself in the second row, and even in 3rd row if I adjust them correctly and my knees won’t touch to front seats which is quite impressive.
What’s even more impressive is the luxury all around the car. BMW didn’t cut any corners when it comes to features and luxury even in the 3rd row. 2nd row seats are power-adjustable and their movement range is excellent. 3rd row seats are also electric but they are not as adjustable as the second row, which is understandable. However, we were hoping to find ventilated seats in the 2nd row rear seats, as this is getting very common feature in 3-row SUV segment for even half of the X7’s price tag.
Engine and Drivetrain
This section is also an important factor why someone would pay 6 figures for this type of vehicle. Our tester is the M50i version which has 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. It produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The peak torque is available from 1800 rpm all the way up to 4800 rpm, that means it is flat all around the mid RPM range and it makes all types of driving experience much better and smoother.
This impressive engine is matched with BMW’s famous 8 speed torque converted automatic transmission and traditional rear biased All Wheel Drive system. This combination is enough to give it a 0-60 mph time under 4.5 seconds, which is very good for a vehicle that weights over 5500 lbs.
V8 + Twin Turbo + All-Wheel-Drive + 5500lbs = When you have all of these in one paragraph, that means there is a penalty for having everything all together. It is the fuel consumption. In our tests, we couldn’t get it lower than 15.0L / 100 km even on the highway. Our average consumption was around 18.0L which is pretty high but acceptable as if you are on the market for a vehicle that has 6 figure price tag, fuel consumption should not be your priority.
Driving Impressions & Features
Despite its weight and size, driving the X7 is easy and surprisingly not boring. Having a masterpiece engine and drivetrain contributes it’s driving dynamics a lot. Of course, you should not expect a supercar driving characteristics, but it is very good for what it is. At the end of the day, it is a huge car with a V8 and everything is tuned for comfort and smoothness. BMW achieved to have 7-series in SUV platform, and you feel it as soon as you start driving it.
As mentioned above, lots of common parts used in other BMW models and that includes thick steering wheel. I am personally not a fan of thick profile steering wheel, and this is no exception. BMW is capable of providing great equilibrium when it comes to being sporty and comfortable with their suspension tune. X7’s suspension leans more towards road comfort despite having M Sport Package.
Feature list is too long to go through, but I will mention the most important ones:
X7 M50i has an adaptive suspension that can raise or lower itself when you are not moving. However, you can only drive it in standard mode and we wish that it should be adjustable when you are actually driving it for better fuel economy or more off road capability.
Another one is the digital gauge cluster, this is something nice to have, but we wish it is more adjustable. You can still change and customize few things, but not on par with its rivals. In terms of how it looks, it is a hate or love situation, some people are fan of the older generation analog gauge cluster. We are okay with the digital one, but concerned with long-term longevity.
Infotainment system also deserves few words. It is BMW’s latest software and very easy to use especially if you are familiar with BMW’s infotainment system. If you are a totally new user, it may take few minutes to figure things out, but definitely not an overwhelming experience. We are also glad that BMW did not integrate air conditioning screen with the infotainment. In our book, this is an important thing as if the infotainment screen doesn’t work, you will still be able to use air conditioning.
Speaking of integration, as always, it comes with Apple CarPlay but not with Android Auto. This should be changed as BMW should not force its users to replace their smartphones. Android is an open source platform and it should not be too costly to implement it into BMW’s infotainment system. It has been several years that BMW doesn’t have this feature, even Apple CarPlay was not free recently and thankfully they changed their mind about it. It is time to add Android Auto, BMW! You are already too late!
As of March 2020, BMW X7 starts at C$94,000 with the smaller engine. If you choose the M50i, it starts at $114,050 and this is a really big jump. Unfortunately, this doesn’t end here, as if you choose our tester’s color, which is called Ametrine Metallic, it costs extra $1,000. Our tester also had the Premium Package, which has Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Luggage Compartment Package, Ventilated Front Seats, Diamond looking glass shifter column, Walknappa Leather Dashboard, Ambient Air Package, Massage Function for Driver and Passenger, BMW Drive Recorder and BMW Individual Interior Color. All of these features in one package costs additional $8,000.
There is also Dynamic Handling Package which comes with Integral Active Steering and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, and this package is additional $4,750. Adaptive Cruise control is surprisingly extra with the X7, which you have to pay $2,000 for Advanced Driving Assistant Package that also has Traffic Jam Assistant, Driving Assistant, Steering and Lane Control, Evasion Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and Lane Keep Assist. Last but not least, Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System is $4,900 extra.
The total comes up to $134,700, which sounds expensive but it is on par with the competition. In fact, it is an SUV BMW specifically designed for the cream of the crop and doesn’t have to be either cheap or affordable. For almost same price, X7 M50i has the most powerful engine in its segment, and it is the fastest one. It has 30 more horsepower than Audi SQ7 and 50 more horsepower than Mercedes-Benz GLS 580. This is what matters for potential buyers more than the small price difference.
At the end of the day, it is a 3-row SUV designed for practicality. However, BMW was able to integrate its driving dynamics into this huge behemoth. It is a great combination of X5 and 7-Series. But including tax and everything, is it really worth C$150,000?
Well, it depends. If you are always carrying more than 5 passengers and need a premium SUV, then there are many options in the market. If you need one of the fastest 3-row SUVs with full size luxury car driving comfort, as well as car-like driving dynamics with unlimited budget, than this is your SUV.
However, do not forget that 3-row SUVs for “regular” people are within the price range of C$50,000-C$70,000 range, so you are paying almost two times more for all of these differences. If you just need practicality or if you are tight on budget, this is not an option for you.