2023 BMW X7 Review: First Drive

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams


Engine: 3.0L I6 Turbo with mild hybrid
Output: 375 hp, 383 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, AWD
Fuel Economy (MPG): TBD
Fuel Economy (L/100 KM): TBD
Starting Price (USD): $77,850 (not inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): 108,500 (not inc. dest.)

It’s a mid-cycle refresh for the 2023 BMW X7.

Joining the tall kidneys are extra-narrow headlights to make the new face of BMW’s luxury models. IDrive 8 arrives with the curved display that debuted in the iX, and the X7 gets a pair of revised engines including an extra 375 hp for the six and mild hybrid systems across the board.

New Year, New Nose

You’re going to spot the X7’s new nose first, because, well, it’s impossible to miss. The headlights have been split into a lower main lamp and the high-mounted LED running lights. It’s polarizing, but during three days with the X7 at BMW’s launch event in Palm Springs, we’ll admit it started to grow on us. If you want a distraction, know that the kidney grille can now light up after dark, so maybe that’s the spot to direct your ire. The back end is nearly the same, but BMW has changed the taillight inlay graphics and smoked the glass hiding the chrome strip on the split-opening tailgate.

Get a Quote on a New BMW X7

Both of the X7’s engines get a 48V mild hybrid system. The motor is integrated into the brand-new eight-speed gearbox and adds 12 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque on demand as well as letting the X7 stay in engine-off mode more of the time.

New Engine as Well

The entry-level xDrive40i model (USD $77,850/CAD $108,500) introduces BMW’s all-new six-cylinder engine. BMW says the 3.0L twin-turbo engine makes 40 hp and 52 lb-ft more – 375 hp/383 lb-ft – than the old engine, with up to 398 lb-ft with the 48V assist. The engine uses a combustion technique called the Miller Cycle that leaves the intake valves open for less time to increase efficiency, cut emissions, and reduce fuel consumption. It’s plenty of power for this big SUV, even at altitudes approaching 6,000 feet in the mountains that make up our test route. The six-cylinder makes BMW’s trademark six-cylinder noises, too, and offers the smoothness that a Vee engine simply can’t match.

While the six might be enough, BMW wants to give you more. That’s why in the M60i you’ll still find a big V8. BMW’s 4.4L twin-turbo engine makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft and shoves this big SUV from 0-100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. A standard sports exhaust makes the engine heard, while the 48V system does its best to help you save some fuel when you’re not making big noise.

This engine turns the X7 M60i ($103,100/CAD129,000) into a bit of a rocketship, with the V8 sounding a fanfare announcing your impending and rapid arrival. It’s not the most powerful three-row SUV on the market, but it’s not all that far off the mark, either. Of course, if even that isn’t enough, Alpina’s 630 hp model will be arriving soon.

And a New Gearbox

We mentioned that the eight-speed was a new one, and it comes with claims of sharper shifts and faster gear changes. It gets Launch Control for those times when you’re drag racing your family luxury SUV, but it gets one more interesting trick: Hold the left paddle for at least a second and it switches the whole vehicle to the sportiest settings and drops to the lowest gear possible. BMW calls it Sprint, we call it Escape Mode. Because it’ll get you out of any situation in a big hurry.

SEE ALSO: 2019 BMW X7 Review

Whichever engine you choose, the 48V system’s electric motor makes the start-stop system much more efficient and seamless. Not waiting for the gas engine to fire before you start moving takes away the biggest issues with these systems. Though, occasionally it felt like neither the motor nor the engine wanted to make an appearance. In those instances, pulling away from a stop meant either a mash of the gas or a few very long moments of waiting for the systems to get to work.

Suspension Tweaks

BMW tweaked the standard air suspension to broaden the gap between comfort and full-on sport modes, which should be good for both kinds of drivers. The air ride system sends data to the ABS to help braking when you’re loaded, and the system lowers by up to 0.75 inches (20mm) when you’re on the highway. It can also climb up to 1.5-inches (40 mm) if you’re headed off road. Pick the M60i and you get active steering and active roll stabilization. Both are optional with the six-cylinder as well.

But even with the new air suspension and active roll control that can effectively disconnect the sway bars, this big SUV rides like a big SUV. The 7 Series, which isn’t far off in weight or size, dispatches anything short of a meteor crater in the roadway with little more than an indifferent shrug. The X7 hits bumps hard, and even in comfort mode leaves us wishing for a bit more of its sibling’s poise and softness.

Handles its Weight

When things get twisty, though, the X7 does a much better job of delivering on BMW’s promise of driver engagement and handling superiority. The X7 turns in briskly and stays absolutely flat in corners that would leave your rear seat passengers trailing a cloud of juice boxes and Cheerios thrown around the cabin. Just because you need seating for seven doesn’t mean you don’t want to go carving corners on the weekend.

SEE ALSO: 2023 BMW 760i xDrive First Drive Review

M60i means a stiffer chassis than the non-M, with stiffer control arm mounts and its own springs and dampers. The idea is to make this one more agile and make both you and the X7 happier in the corners. It is more agile than the xDrive40i, but on public roads you’re really going to be pressed to appreciate the difference. You’re getting the M60i for the V8 sound, not because if might slash a few seconds off of your times around the Nurburgring.

New Seats, New Screens

Heated seats are now standard on the X7, and we understand virtually every customer was ordering them anyway. xDrive40i gets comfort-design seats as standard now, but both I and my co-driver found the seats to be less supportive than we were looking for. While the 7’s seats let you sink in, the X7s leave you perched atop them. Hard braking and cornering left us feeling like we were going to topple out.

BMW’s curved screen and iDrive 8 mark a massive upgrade to the cabin. The new 14.9-inch screen pairs with the 12.3-inch digital dash into what looks like one large panel and integrates much better into the vehicle. The new illuminated X7/M graphic (depending on your trim) in the dash is an odd touch, though, and seems a bit cheesy in a vehicle at this price point.

Advanced Technology

The new OS brings with it near-instant responses, including to the voice commands. And you’ll be using those voice commands a great deal because BMW has moved heavily toward them instead of buttons. Embrace it rather than trying to find options buried several menus deep and the system truly is a joy to use. As long as you don’t mind talking to your BMW, it can change drive modes, temperatures, and do far more tasks than you’d imagine possible without a button press.

BMW’s augmented reality view is handy here, showing you a live video stream in the dash (or center screen) that lets you know exactly where you’ll need to turn. Handy in complicated intersections when you’re somewhere new. Another part of the system is the ability to use your iPhone instead of a key, thanks to NFC and ultra-wideband radio tech.

SEE ALSO: 2023 BMW i7 First Drive Review

Parking Assistant Professional, BMW’s park-for-you system is now better thanks to a new Trailer Assistant. You can also store up to 200m of driving maneuvers, letting the X7 handle tough tasks like a tight parking garage for you, once you’ve done it the first time.

2023 BMW X7: The Verdict

It’s taken us some getting used to, but with the BMW X7 the German automaker created an SUV that could deliver serious handling and let you bring along the extended family or a big group of friends. With this refresh, BMW has made the formula even better: A more powerful I6 and better ride and handling combined with interior tech that is at the top of the class. This SUV is perfectly happy being thrown down a windy mountain road like any other BMW, with the added benefit of being content to take the unpaved path instead. Just ignore the nose if you don’t like it and consider it all good.


Is BMW X7 expensive?

The BMW starts at a price of $77,850 for the entry level model.  

Does BMW X7 require premium gas?

Yes, regardless of engine, BMW recommends using premium fuel with the X7. 

What SUV is comparable to the BMW X7?

The Grand Wagoneer, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and Audi Q7 are all competitive vehicles. 

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  • New mild hybrid I6 Turbo
  • Handling
  • Impressive Technology


  • Ride Comfort
  • Controversial Looks
  • Front Seat Support
Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

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