Resistance is futile — especially when profits are involved.
Engine: 3.0L turbo inline-six / 4.4L twin-turbo V8
Output: 3.0L: 340 hp, 332 lb-ft / V8: 462 hp, 479 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 3.0L: 20 city, 25 hwy / V8: 15 city, 22 hwy
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 3.0L: 12.0 city, 9.4 hwy, 10.8 combined / V8: 14.3 city, 10.6 hwy, 12.6 combined.
US Price: Starts at $73,900
CAN Price: Starts at $92,500
That’s the lesson learned by BMW in approaching the seven-passenger SUV segment, a world it initially broached by plunking an extra row of accommodations inside its popular X5 mid-sizer roughly a decade ago. With sales of its once-flagship 7 Series sedan drying up, however, and luxury customers flocking in droves to utility vehicles of every description, it finally became clear to the bosses in Bavaria that it was time to get serious about getting big — especially with the relative success of the hulking Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class ute looming over its market share.
Enter the 2019 BMW X7, a stretched and puffed people mover based on the same platform as the X5, only this time with as much legroom at the back as the smaller vehicle offers in the middle. It’s a serious play for those with both the acreage required to park this bejeweled beast and the need for their daily driver to pinch-hit as a super-taxi from time to time.
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What’s it like to set sail in BMW’s biggest land yacht to date? To find out, I kept my hand on the tiller for the 600 miles separating Tallahassee, Florida, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to find out.
First things first: Yes, I am aware of the fact that the BMW X7’s plus-size styling has been somewhat divisive among fans of the brand. Of particular concern to those with spleens to vent are the vents themselves located just below the vehicle’s enormous grille, frontage that some find gauchely disproportional to the rest of the vehicle.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with the X7’s face-first foray into attention-grabbing cooling. In fact, both head-on and in silhouette the X7 is about as sleek as one could expect given its tonnage, and while not as sporty-looking as the X5, that won’t be much of a concern from the buyers targeted by the brand. If you’re keeping score at home, the X5 is actually a little wider than its sibling, although obviously shorter (and roughly the same height).
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More pertinent to the enjoyment of my southern trajectory was the state of the X7’s interior, which can be summed up as opulent. Again, much like the X5, only more so, this big BMW’s upholstery is top-notch, its feature set fully loaded, and its level of customization surprisingly in-depth, especially for those riding in the second row. Are the crystal accents on the shifter and console control knob a little too ‘Forever 21’ at this price point? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they don’t catch the eye with their glitter.
There were a couple of flaws, to be sure, although not necessarily endemic to the X7 itself but more the BMW design philosophy as a whole. The split-tailgate at the rear is unnecessarily complicated and requires two steps to fully open rather than the one-touch operation found nearly everywhere else in the industry. Then there’s the iDrive infotainment system, which is nearly perfect at this point and complemented by an excellent head-up display. Unfortunately, gesture controls are still a gimmick and occasionally cause the infotainment screen to act in unpredictable manners when you’re moving your hands around the cabin.
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Tied to the Mast
Eight hours of largely highway driving isn’t the best environment for a comprehensive evaluation of the BMW X7 as parking, cargo loading, and, well, corners are all notably missing from our itinerary — but it did offer a heaping helping of both power plants offered with the cruiser.
The X7 xDrive40i features the automaker’s ubiquitous, and excellent, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, good for 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque (although surely more than that, given BMW’s history of under-rating factory power). The xDrive50i steps up to an exceptionally gifted 462-horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, one that is also rated at 479 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard across the board.
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Although the V8 slices approximately a half-second off of the inline-six’s 6.1-second sprint to 60 mph, both motors feel well-matched to the X7’s character. Whether loafing in the right lane or pulling out to pass, the quiet and competence evinced in either configuration are competitive for the uber-sled segment.
From a handling perspective, there were no bends in the road whatsoever to be found between Tallahassee and Baton Rouge, but the pillow-like air suspension system outfitted to the X7 offers several ride heights to go with its rough-and-tumble drive modes. This includes a number of off-road settings that will almost certainly never be used by its eventual owners, although I did find sand mode useful for dealing with Florida’s many pesky, photogenic beaches.
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The Verdict: 2019 BMW X7 Review
If you’ve been looking for a bigger X5 — which comes with a far more vestigial third row of seating — the X7 is it. While this may sound like a simplistic conclusion given the pair’s platform-twinning, it’s also a fairly big compliment to pay to the somewhat more ponderous of the two SUVs, and although the 7 may lack some of the 5’s flair, its cavernous cabin more than makes up for its if passenger space is the utmost priority.
If it’s not, you can get almost everything that the X7 offers in a more fun-to-drive package from the excellent X5 at a serious discount. While the X7 starts at $73,900 for the xDrive40i model and can reach six-figures for a kitted-out xDrive50i, the X5 starts at a much more modest $60,000. Still, it’s a choice most X7 buyers won’t find themselves having to make, as this demographic is less about the MSRP and more about the prestige associated with owning the top-tier truck from the German brand.
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