Competes with: Audi Q7, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
Looks like: Nothing else in the BMW lineup, and mostly true to the concept car with its giant grille and wheels
Drivetrain: 335-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder with 330 pounds-feet of torque (xDrive40i); 456-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 with 479 pounds-feet of torque (xDrive 50i); eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: March 2019
BMW’s SUV lineup has grown over the past few years to six vehicles, but even with all of those ‘utes around, the X6 is only a two-row vehicle with seating for five. There was one final hole for BMW to plug: a three-row SUV. Enter the new 2019 BMW X7.
The X7 comes with (fittingly) standard seating for up to seven occupants across three rows of seats. The X7 (also fittingly) becomes the seventh member of BMW’s SUV family, and it will be built in Spartanburg, S.C., alongside the X3, X4, X5 and X6 (the X1 and X2 are produced in Germany).
Note: Photos shown are of the European version of the X7, but all features discussed below will be available in the U.S.
We caught our first glance of the X7 in concept form at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, where BMW told us that styling was 70-80 percent complete; looking at the finished product, that seems about accurate. Some of the more out-there styling features have been toned down: The headlight clusters are a bit taller, the wheels a bit less radical and the side mirrors more conventional. But the overall look and feel of the concept very much remains, including that giant kidney grille.
The grille will be the X7’s defining stylistic feature — BMW says it’s the largest one the automaker has ever designed, and I believe it. I’m still not quite used to it; it seems to jump out rather aggressively, but I also think it’s one of those design quirks that you’ll notice at first before it fades into the background over time.
Large 21-inch wheels are standard on both of the X7’s trim levels, with even larger 22-inch wheels optional (we’re excited to see what effect those large wheels have on ride quality). The X7 is a big vehicle — though it thins out at the top, which makes it appear a bit smaller — but don’t be fooled: It’s the longest and widest vehicle among competitors from Audi, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.
The interior of the new X7 is striking, especially in the two-tone color scheme shown in manufacturer photos. Beyond the design, there are plenty of new interior features to get excited about, starting with a new control panel for the standard four-zone climate control. Third-row passengers will also be enamored of the standard three-panel panoramic sunroof — usually, panoramic sunroofs aren’t very helpful for those seated in the wayback, but BMW added a third glass panel right above them for some extra light.
A second-row bench is standard, which puts seating capacity at seven, with a pair of captain’s chairs optional. BMW says the captain’s chairs will have the same range of adjustments as the front seats. Whether you have a bench or captain’s chairs, the second row will offer 5.7 inches of travel, and both the second and third rows will have electric adjustments for the backrest angle.
BMW has also placed controls around the cabin for the various seats. For example, there are controls to fold the second- and third-row seats down in both the cargo area and on a panel located on the driver’s side near the rear doors. The driver will also have the ability to move the front passenger seat forward and backward via a switch to make getting in and out easier. The X7 has an impressive 48.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which expands to 90.4 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.
Speaking of the third row, xDrive50i models will offer the Executive Package, which includes glass controls, the Panoramic Sky Lounge LED roof that’s also offered in the 7 Series sedan and BMW Laserlight headlamps.
Under the Hood
The X7’s two variants, the xDrive40i and xDrive50i, have different engines but share an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. The xDrive40i will feature a 335-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that makes 330 pounds-feet of torque. The xDrive50i boosts those figures with its larger engine, a 456-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that makes 479 pounds-feet of torque.
Underneath the X7, a two-axle air suspension with self-leveling comes standard, as does a Dynamic Damper Control system. The air suspension can raise the X7 1.6 inches up to above its standard setting (for up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance) when going off-road. BMW offers a Dynamic Handling Package on both models, which includes Integral Active Steering (four-wheel steering), sport brakes, Active Comfort Drive with road preview and (on xDrive50i models) an M Sport rear differential. Active Comfort Drive integrates with camera sensors that can detect upcoming turns or bumps in the road and prepares the suspension accordingly.
The xDrive40i comes standard with blind spot warnings, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, speed limit information, and front and rear parking sensors.
Jumping to the xDrive50i, the list of standard safety technology expands furthers with a 360-degree camera system, head-up display, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and the Extended Traffic Jam Assistant. The Extended Traffic Jam Assistant works at speeds of up to 37 mph on highways, eliminating the need for the driver to intervene in set intervals to keep the system on; an interior-facing camera monitors attentiveness, so as long as the driver is looking at the road ahead, the system functions on its own.
The X7’s large size also makes the addition of a few parking aids welcome. The Parking Assistant Professional Package (optional on the xDrive40i, standard on the xDrive50i) helps the driver select and park in a parallel parking space; it will also work the pedals, gearshift and steering for you (most systems only handle the steering while the driver still works the pedals and the gearshift). There is also a fun feature called Back-Up Assistant, which will remember the path the X7 took in a forward direction to reach a parking space or confined area, then back up the vehicle along the same path for up to 50 yards.
It took a while for BMW to make it to market with a three-row SUV, but given the abundance of technology, features and style promised here, it appears to have been worth the wait. The 2019 BMW X7 starts a $74,895 (including a $995 destination charge) for the xDrive40i and $93,595 for the xDrive50i, and it will begin arriving at dealerships in March 2019 — but starting in the middle of this month, the automaker will accept preorders for the all-new SUV.
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