There’s a reason BMW calls their vehicles “The Ultimate Driving Machines.” It’s because they are. And their X7 xDrive50i is one prime example.
This three-row is the crème de la crème of SUVs, that’s if you don’t consider the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which shares the same nomenclature of the X7.
X7 is a combination of AWD SUV, ultra-luxury sedan, family hauler and sports car. It continues the BMW design theme with its dual kidney grille and shares overall design with BMWs long-standing X5 SUV, but it’s 9.1 inches longer to accommodate the third row. It is the largest vehicle in BMWs stable.
X7 is offered with three engine choices. There’s a 3.0L turbocharged inline-6 rated at 335-hp and 330 lb/ft of torque with EPA mileage estimates of 20/25 mpg; the tested 4.4L, twin turbo V8 with 456-hp and 479 lb/ft of torque and EPA’s of 15 city, 21-highway mpg; and a super-potent 4.4L twin turbo with a whopping 523-hp and 553 lb/ft of torque for EPA’s of 15/21 mpg.
All engines couple to a quick shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that has separate switches for Sport, Comfort and Eco modes. Sport mode provides higher shift points for more spirited driving.
With the 4.4L we tested, it was independently 0-60 tested at 5.2 seconds. Upon pressing the ignition button, the 4.4L V8 lights up and puts out a velvety hum that is Rolex watch perfection. Goose the accelerator and the ovoid tailpipes bark a sweet garble. With paddle shifters, X7 can turn this 5,285-pound SUV into a burly sports car with shift-for-yourself shift points if you so desire. BMW makes the finest engines that beckon to be driven Autobahn style. Oh, and if walking away from the X7 with the engine running, the engine will automatically shut off.
After a 20-inch step in into the luxurious cockpit, you’re treated to a host of extraordinary extravagance for an SUV, a visual that could be in a Gulfstream 650 jet. Your eyes will quickly notice the crystal glass shifter knob then be grabbed by the dual 12.3-inch displays, one for the infotainment system, the other serving the all digital display and opulent wood trim. Rest assured, there’s so many features and functions on the displays that they require a good long study of the owners’ manual. So forgive me if I miss something as we only had the X7 for a week.
We can’t say enough about X7s heated/cooled front seats. They’re supportive with great extended under thigh support for an exceptionally comfy ride. There’s even heated armrests.
X7s 12-3-inch display serves BMWs infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a Bowers & Wilkins audio, rearview camera, nav and a host of other apps (including a weather app) and several features like Auto Park, Adaptive Driving Control and much more. And it does so via a console mounted rotary controller.
HVAC controls are an array of buttons in the middle of the dash with selections displayed on the LCD. They are easy to use without taking the eyes off the road once acclimating to their position on the vertical stack. And at the base of the stack is a wireless phone charger, a most appreciated feature.
Optional second row bucket seats are comfy and power slide forward for easy third row access. At the rear of the console are HVAC controls for second row passengers which also sends heat and A/C to third row riders.
As for the third row, most are mainly for youngsters. Not X7s. They’re surprisingly spacious for two adults with decent leg and head room and easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cargo area and with the third row upright, it’s rated at 11.5 cubic feet that measures 18 inches deep, 43 wide and 32 high. Flip them and capacity expands to 48.6 cubic feet for 48 inches of loading depth. Unlike a lot of competitive SUVs who’s second row seats fold flat, X7s just tilt forward a bit.
Beneath the aft cargo floor is a 5-inch deep storage bin for small items. And if carrying a heavy load, a switch on the console controls the air suspension system to raise (and lower) the body to level it.
Then there’s the split tailgate. It’s good for stowing small packages over the lower gate, or carrying extra long items that can hang out over the lower gate with the top portion open. Can’t very well do that with a single liftgate. With both sections open, there’s 15.5 inches of gate panel that must be stretched over to stow items in the cargo bay.
The ride on big 21-inch Bridgestone run-flat tires is smooth and quiet with X7s independent suspension and air springs keeping the SUV planted in sharp turns. Press the Sport mode button and the X7 gets even more lively with a tightened suspension that gives sporty handling characteristics. You can throw the X7 into curves and it stays planted and points true. Turn the steering wheel an inch and the nose points 20 degrees either way.
Now all this luxury and fine engineering doesn’t come without a fine price. The standard feature list is exhaustive but options are pricey. For example, starting at a base price of $92,600, the following takes that number to three figures. The test car added a cold weather package ($1,200); dynamic handling package ($4,750); M Sport package ($3,550); premium package ($1,550); executive package ($2,100), display key ($300); second row captain’s chairs ($600); leather dashboard ($1,200); Bowers-Wilkins audio ($3,400) and delivery ($995) that took the bottom line to $112,245. A premium price for a premium AWD, third row SUV. There is however, a lesser priced version in the AWD xDrive40i, albeit without some of the extras just listed.
Now this price includes an array of standard safety gear like blind spot detection, lane departure warning, park distance control, extended traffic jam assistant, active driving assistance pro and many, many more.
If you can afford the very best, X7 is the very best.