As SUVs continue to snag shoppers’ attention, BMW is adding to its already-prolific SUV lineup with the new, eye-catching 2019 X7. The large three-row SUV sits at the top of the automaker’s lineup and boasts a refined interior, plus loads of creature comforts and driver assistance features.
Aside from the grille, which Cars.com editors find polarizing — to put it politely — we agree there’s a lot to like about the new X7 … with a just a few exceptions.
Things We Like
Power comes from either a 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine (xDrive40i model) or a 456-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 (xDrive50i), and both pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive is standard. Guess which one we like better.
In his review, our Brian Wong said the 4.4-liter feels more substantial in many ways. It’s noticeably faster both off the line and in passing, and it provides much easier power delivery. However, he said the 3.0-liter is no slouch, either, and moves the SUV around competently — though it doesn’t hide the amount of work it’s doing and feels less luxurious.
2. Interior Refinement
The X7’s refined and luxurious cabin impress, from its giant windows for excellent visibility and an airy feel to its sumptuous leather seats and surfaces. Most impressive, Wong said, is how interior quality is maintained all the way back to the third row. Often, in larger vehicles, the materials and presentation can drop off rapidly as you move to the second and third rows. Not so in the X7.
3. No Cheap Seats
Another oft-neglected area in three-row SUVs is the third row. BMW put the effort in here, as well. It’s roomy enough for two adult passengers and has some nice amenities: It’s nicely upholstered and offers its own set of climate controls, a pair of USB-C charging ports and its own moonroof. Wong said this feature is rare and helps stave off claustrophobia for passengers back there. Also, the third-row adjustments are powered, just like the first two rows, and BMW has handily included controls in three places: the cargo area, on the openings to the rear side doors and through the touchscreen up front.
4. High-Tech Safety Features
The X7 offers a wide array of standard safety and driver assistance features, including blind spot warning, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, speed limit information, and front and rear parking sensors. In addition, xDrive50i models add a 360-degree camera system, head-up display, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking and BMW’s Extended Traffic Jam Assistant. Wong, who routinely must contend with Los Angeles traffic, said the latter feature quickly became a favorite.
“The system works in traffic on the highway at speeds under 37 mph, using a camera in the instrument panel to make sure the driver is watching the road,” he stated. “As long as you don’t look away, the X7 will basically pilot itself; there’s no need to put your hands on the steering wheel. Beyond that speed, the X7 reverts to standard lane keeping and adaptive cruise control functionality, which does require you to put a hand on the wheel.”
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Things We Don’t
1. iDrive Learning Curve
BMW’s multimedia system gets better with every iteration, and the X7’s application is no exception. There’s still some room for improvement, however. Wong said the placement of the touchscreen — up high on the dash for better visibility — makes it a bit of a reach while driving. He ended up using the dial controller between the seats most of the time, which can take more focus from the road. He also cautioned about the dizzying number of menus and settings in the system, and said figuring them out can be overwhelming.
“The good news is that I believe the system can be mastered within a few weeks. But it can be a bit frustrating at first,” he said.
2. Fuel Economy
While the xDrive50i’s powertrain was a favorite, its gas mileage doesn’t impress: It’s EPA rated at 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined, much lower than the xDrive40i’s EPA-estimated 20/25/22 mpg rating.
3. Warm Up Your Credit Card
All that luxury and technology will cost you dearly. Both models Wong tested stickered at more than $100,000 — a lot higher which than the xDrive40i’s $74,895 starting price. The xDrive50i he tested clocked in at an eye-popping $117,645 after thousands in extras.
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