When BMW started producing more and more of what their maturing and not-so mature clients were looking for, mainly crossovers, the onslaught of SAVs and variations of sports sedans started a grand tour with no end in sight. You could say that the brand's on an adventure of its own to create as may sellable variants as possible to keep every BMW lover happy, from Road King to Carpool Queen. And now, the German automaker famous for being a leader in sports sedans has gone and done it with the all-new X7. And it was just a matter of time because this is the Bimmer SUV lovers and newcomers to the brand have been waiting for.
HIGH STYLING AND BIG PROFILING
Adorned with the biggest kidney grill ever to shine on a Bayerische Motoren Werke's model, along with slim twin headlights, make the X7 all-present and prominent. You’ll definitely look twice the moment you spot one. Then to match the largest model in the BMW X line-up, with robust powertrain options and chassis technology, three rows of seats, premium equipment, and interior comfort -second to none- this land yacht is big, bold and smooth. How big? The sizing rolls out at 5151mm in length, 2000 mm wide, and 1805mm tall with a wheelbase of 3,105 mm. It’s a biggie and would have to be as it cruises in alongside competitors, some new and some stalwarts like the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90, and the Lincoln Navigator— each with their own design flair and practical flaws. When you inspect the X7 from the side profile, you’ll instantly take notice to its large windows and a long roofline. And it looks “boasty” because it has every right to be. And while you might not notice at first glance, the rear doors are longer than those in the front, thus suggesting that BMW’s Design Team is genuinely considerate of passengers getting taxied with unchallenging access to enter/exit the second and third rows, cozily.
TWO TYPES OF POWER
Does what’s under the hood that makes a difference when it comes to an SUV? Maybe not to most and many SUVs are shuttles for the kids’ activities or entrepreneurs’ haulers. But power certainly can make a difference, if you like to drive regardless of vehicle scale.
The X7 has the options of two updated gasoline engines, with the xDrive50i taking the cake with a powerful 4.4-liter V8 engine. The eight-cylinder engine in the xDrive50i delivers an attractive mix of horsepower, torque, and a V8 soundtrack that makes this sizable grocery-getter display a vigorous personality. With a peak torque of 479 lb-ft, in a rev range of 1,500 to 4,750 rpm, and output of 456 hp between 5,250 and 6,000 rpm, the engine pushes and pulls power into all the right directions, in 0 to 100 km/h in roughly 5.4 seconds.
The secondary option of a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is a power unit that is just as eager to please, producing 335 hp and 330 lb-ft and accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. Both engines are mated with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and do not disappoint.
HOW TO MAKE IT YOURS, ON THE OUTSIDE
The X7 comes in six popular existing and new colors, including a non-metallic Alpine White and metallic paints in Carbon Black with the M Sport Package, Black Sapphire, Mineral White, Arctic Grey, and Vermont Bronze. Six more colors, including several BMW Individual Paints, were made available in mid-2019 including Jet Black, Dark Graphite, Phytonic Blue, Ruby Black, Tanzanite Blue, Pyrite Brown as well as Ametrin Red. Still not sure what to run with? ‘All Black Everything’, is still the new black. And probably the most common color you'll see this vehicle sportin'. Don’t they look better in the shade, too?
KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
So what does it take to get inside? Not much after you spend the starting buying price of $92,000 and adding in your options. But what I’m really getting at is instant assess to the vehicle, in a new way. BMW has introduced its new Digital Key which turns your smartphone into a car key. Accessible via the BMW Connected app, it employs Near Field Communication (NFC) tech, which has been around almost as long as Bluetooth, allowing the ride to be unlocked and locked from a compatible smartphone, bypassing the conventional car key. Just hold up your phone to the door handle and “voila!” Start the engine, simply by placing the phone in the wireless charging tray— a feature that I love, over and over again.
WHAT’S ON THE INSIDE ALWAYS MATTERS
The interior cabin of the X7 is expensive and impressive. And finally what BMW owners shopping for larger cargo and carry room have been looking for, at least in my opinion. In fact, I was happy to sit in the automaker’s newest member of the fleet with a gleaming smile of satisfaction and utter, “finally!”
Even in “the most spacious BMW, ever”, the driver can still potentially feel that ultimate driving experience, at least in the cockpit of a Bimmer SUV. The design is geared toward open space comfort for easy yet comprehensive routing and navigation. A fully-digital cockpit combines display and control concepts incorporating the latest-generation of the iDrive system with a high-resolution digital 31.2 cm (12.3”) instrument cluster display behind the steering wheel and a 31.2 cm (12.3”) tablet-like touchscreen in the center display area, diagonally across.
So what else is on the inside? In brief, expect a standard three-panel panoramic LED glass sunroof, large windows, plus electrically controlled sliding headliner shades. And the third-row passengers have their own controls for the rear sliding shade. Luxury seating appointments from front to back include instrument panels displaying a modern look with electroplated accents, offering an exclusive aura.
The second row is configured for Captains- two extremely comfortable individual chairs as a middle row option, offering easy seat adjustments, integrated armrests and comfort cushions. The space between those seats also gives access to the third row and offers more airiness to the vehicle's interior.
The seating style for ‘Row Three’ is designed where two adults or three youthful passengers can chillax in full-size seats while road-trippin’ the distance. Plus that third row is thoughtful with a glass roof element, cup holders and armrests integrated into the side panel trim, for those like myself that suffer from a little Claustrophobia.
If and when you need room to store more cargo, the backrests of the seats in the second and third rows can be folded/raised electrically and the second-row seats can be returned to their upright position at the touch of a button— makes it easier when you’re “loading up the car” alone. Loading can also be made easy with a two-section split power tailgate and the standard air suspension that lowers the vehicle by 40mm, making lifting, pushing and pulling items in the back much easier than ever. And the next time the engine is started, the system will automatically revert to the last mode selected.
For Interior Trim options, the X7 comes standard in Black or a choice of nine premium Vernasca (Black, Canberra Beige, Coffee or Cognac) and Extended Merino (Black, Ivory White, Coffee or Tartufo) Leathers. Wanna get bold? A two-tone Ivory White/Navy Blue Full Leather Merino interior, with a Navy Blue leather dashboard and a Navy Blue Alcantara headliner, is available offer a standout luxury sport identity.
As for the Infotainment Dynamics, you can opt for the standard audio system 10 speakers, 205-watt Harman Kardon Surround Sound system or upgrade to more power with the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound 1,500-watt, 20 speakers system. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief of twenty speakers. Wireless Charging and WiFi Hotspot are standard for both models. And if you really need it, a rear-seat Entertainment system adds a pair of 26 cm (10.2”) full-HD touchscreen displays, a Blu-ray-compatible DVD player and an HDMI socket and two headphone jacks, where rear-seat passengers can use both their own media sources and those available in the front compartment.
Not enough? Other options possible are a Leather Dashboard, Glass Controls for the Start/Stop button, Gear Shift lever, iDrive Controller and radio volume knob, Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof and Front Ventilated and Massaging Seats.
What you can expect of the X7 is the maximizing of traction, agility and directional stability, not to mention the split of drive torque between the front and rear wheels with solid precision and speed as the situation requires. And for more power on the straightaways, full power can be directed completely to the rear wheels in moments when the all-wheel-drive can take the back seat. And that power is a pleasure.
The design of the X7 chassis, based on a double-wishbone front suspension and a five-link rear suspension, offers a balance of solid traction on rough terrain, dynamic response, and weighty ride comfort on the pavement. But if you haven't driven any large scale SUV, you’ll have to adapt to the X7s big movement and scale. But don’t worry, driving the X7 isn’t awkward thanks to the two-axle air suspension and electronically controlled dampers which sharpen the SAV’s handling while at the same time increasing ride comfort.
The standard two-axle air suspension system with automatic self-leveling not only provides a noticeable benefit to ride comfort but also allows electronic adjustment of vehicle ride height to meet various needs. The desired vehicle ride height can even be set with the engine switched off by using the optional BMW Display Key. Plus the driver can select between COMFORT and SPORT driving modes to match their drive style. Furthermore, speed-dependent Integral Active Steering turns the rear wheels either the same direction as the front, to enhance stability in high-speed maneuvers such as lane changes, or in the opposite direction to the front wheels, to facilitate low-speed maneuvering by decreasing the turning radius.
LOVE 'EM OR LEAVE EM, DRIVE ASSISTS ARE HERE TO STEER AND STAY
Packed with plenty of cameras and radars, the X7 has an abundance of drive assists that will sooner than later become the norm in all vehicles but still remain luxurious in this category: Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Evasion Aid, Rear Collision Warning, Frontal Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation (which now also alerts the driver if cyclists are detected) Cross Traffic Alert Rear, Automatic Lane Change, and Speed Limit Information.
My favorite of the lot is the Extended Traffic Jam Assist with combos extended hands-off time, Lane Keeping Assist with Active Side-Collision protection. During the worst and most tedious parts of a daily commute, packed with stop-and-go traffic, the system uses a driver-facing optical/infrared camera to monitor the driver’s eye and nose position, determining if they are watching the road ahead— almost cybernetic without the Detroit steel implants. If the driver is paying attention, there’s no need to place their hands on the wheel every 30-50 seconds. And for those long runs, the interior camera supports a driver alertness monitoring system which suggests that the driver stop and take a break if it deems that the driver is becoming fatigued and less alert.
An item I missed during my test experience is the new head-up display which has a large projection area with optimized graphics in order not to clutter your windshield with flashing lights (all depending on your drive style and the moment). With enhanced graphics and additional display readings, you can expect to see piloting information such as the vehicle’s speed, road speed limits, overtaking restrictions, control messages, status indicators, and warnings signals not to mention assistance systems, navigation guidance, along with phone and entertainment lists. Welcome to the future of your windscreen. And the future looks good.
My takeaway from the all-new BMW X7 seven-seater SUV is that it is definitely a welcome addition the line and a pleasant need for many of the brand's enthusiasts that want power with scale and cargo, wrapped up in a blue, black and white bow. Starting out at $92,000 with the option to move up to to the Premium Excellence Package for another $15,000 or the M Package for another $2,900, there is no shortage of interior or cosmetic compliments toping you out to roughly a little more than $111,000 which includes a 6-seat configuration, Luggage Compartment Package, and Display Key.
It’s also the merry solution for drivers that are tired of cramming everything possible into their X5. Now imagine an exuberant X5 with more cargo capacity and more power— definitely puts a smile on many faces. Look out for the X7 at a cottage or school car line near you.