Large, three-row SUVs that truly manage to mix practicality with luxury are few and far between, and the BMW X7 finds itself mixing it with the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the Cadillac Escalade. But while some stop at three-row practicality, BMW decided to throw in a little spice by making the X7 fun to drive, too. Thanks to the 523-horsepower V8 engine on the top-tier M50i and matching M Sport specification, the hefty auto is remarkably spry. It can even go off-road when necessary or haul a respectable 7,500 lbs. If that doesn't impress, then step inside and you'll be presented with three rows of seats dressed in opulent materials, complemented by the most advanced comfort and safety features money can buy. And you'll need quite a lot of it to buy one of these beauties, as the cost of the BMW X7 can easily exceed the six-figure mark.
The new BMW X7 has received numerous updates for 2021. Perhaps the biggest change is the trimming of the lineup, which sees the xDrive50i dropped, and the addition of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to the base powertrain. Standard equipment across the range has been improved: Android Auto, SiriusXM with 360L, and remote engine start are now factory-installed, along with heated seats, armrests, and steering wheel. Vermont Bronze has been deleted from the exterior color palette, along with a handful of interior options. The Cold Weather Package, Executive Package, Premium Package, and Luxury Seating Package have all been reduced in price to make up for some features becoming standard, while the Off-Road Package on the xDrive40i has been removed. A special Dark Shadow Edition is available on 75 units, with unique exterior styling options as well as more even more standard equipment than the M50i upon which it is based.
The full-size SUV has some of the boldest styling in the segment, with an enormous double kidney grille framed by conversely sleek LED headlights. Naturally, on such a large and expensive Bimmer, fog lights come standard, too, and the wheel arches house 21-inch wheels. You can select even larger 22-inch variants if even that isn't enough, though they come standard on the M50i. Speaking of the wheel arches, metallic accent strips run between each arch, extending further to the rear fascia where they connect with the rear reflectors. The rear liftgate is topped with a short brake strip, which is supplemented by much larger standard brake lights extending across the door and curving around the rear end. The upper trim replaces the chrome exhaust tips with Cerium Grey variants, and the Satin Aluminum exterior trim with a Shadowline trim. It also gets an aerodynamic kit.
As the largest machine in the automaker's stable, the X7 SUV stretches an impressive 203.3 inches in length. Its height is even more impressive at 71.1 inches, with the M50i a tad lower to the ground at 70.7 inches. As if this isn't already enough to make it difficult to maneuver around town, the width of 78.7 inches means that not many parking bays can accommodate it easily, or even garages for that matter. Matching these dimensions, a 122.2-inch wheelbase allows it to fit three rows of seats into the cabin. All this adds up to create a rather hefty vehicle. In its base form, it tips the scales at 5,397 pounds, while the M50i variant has an even higher weight of 5,661 lbs. If you really want to take it off-road, the X7 is capable, thanks to 8.7 inches of ground clearance. It even has respectable approach and departure angles of 23.1 and 20.5 degrees, respectively.
Even with the deletion of Vermont Bronze, the large Bimmer still offers an impressive range of 11 paint colors to dress up the exterior. The base model's options comprise Jet Black and Alpine White, which sound as basic as they are. No extra cost is directly attributed to Black Sapphire, Dark Graphite, Mineral White, Phytonic Blue, Arctic Grey, and Manhattan Green - all metallics that look great in the photos - but Tanzanite Blue II and Ametrin each add $1,950 to the bill. The most expensive option is Carbon Black Metallic, which is part of the $4,350 M Sport Package. The M50i has most of the same options, but loses Jet Black and Manhattan Green.
Having done away with the mid-tier engine with the deletion of the xDrive50i, the all-new X7 is either capable or ridiculously overqualified on the road. Then again, capable has an entirely different definition in the prestigious automaker's dictionary. Even the entry-level 335-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder allows the hefty SUV to make the 0 to 60 mph sprint in less than six seconds - 5.8 to be specific. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.
Even with an extra 264 lbs to lug around, the V8 engine is able to make the same sprint more than a full second quicker. This is thanks to outputs of 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. Along with a sprint time of 4.5 seconds, the large ute can hit a top speed of 155 mph, provided that 22-inch Style 758i wheels and performance run-flat tires are selected.
Both powertrains come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. Similarly, the entire range is capable of towing up to 7,500 lbs when properly outfitted for towing.
The powertrain lineup for the giant Bimmer has been updated to improve efficiency for 2021. This involves the introduction of a 48-volt mild hybrid system to the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine under the hood of the base-level xDrive40i. Mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this set-up develops 335 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. As the name implies, the vehicle is fitted with full-time xDrive all-wheel-drive. While not as potent as the power plant on the M50i, this still gives the large SUV enough oomph to get around town without breaking a sweat. Still, there is always room for improvement, which is where the aforementioned M50i comes in.
In this configuration, the X7 retains its transmission and drivetrain, but the larger displacement 4.4L turbocharged V8 develops 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. This needlessly powerful generator lets the ute get around town in the blink of an eye and leave almost every other car on the highway in the dust. Equipped with a few M-performance parts, too, such as an M Sport exhaust, the top-tier Bimmer sounds as good as it looks.
Don't let the size of this beastly machine fool you; it's actually surprisingly nimble. Still, an almost three-ton SUV could never be truly athletic. The steering is perfectly weighted for town driving but still provides enough feedback to inspire confidence when having a little fun or going off-road. The brakes are equally capable, bringing the hefty vehicle to a halt in just over 100 feet from 60 mph. However, the M Sport brakes on the upper trim are even more capable.
Where the X7 really shines, though, is its ride quality. Every model is equipped with air suspension as standard, meaning that even larger bumps in the road are smoothed over with ease. This also reduces body roll when you're having fun. Multiple drive modes are offered, but even switching to Sport mode does not noticeably reduce ride quality. The same goes for the larger 22-inch wheels you'll find on the M50i.
Of course, xDrive AWD is standard on each of the configurations. This means the SUV can handle harsh road conditions without losing its poise and even venture off the beaten path when necessary, although it's no Land Rover in this respect.
Despite the mild hybrid system now being standard on the base six-cylinder engine, the xDrive40i returns slightly worse gas mileage figures than it has in the past. Neither configuration is particularly economical, though. But at well over 5,000 lbs, the city/highway/combined EPA estimates of 19/24/21 mpg are not all that bad. The larger eight-cylinder in the M50i is thirstier, naturally, returning figures of 15/21/17 mpg. Both burn premium fuel, though, so even these mileage figures result in pricey bills at the end of the month. Equipped with a 21.9-gallon gas tank, the most efficient X7 can traverse around 460 miles between gas station visits.
There are few places more comfortable than the interior of a BMW, and with so much space on offer, the X7 is more luxurious than most. Only the most upscale materials are used, and the construction shows the kind of attention to detail and perfection that we have come to expect from the Germans. There is a long list of standard tech to justify the price point, and enough choice of color themes to customize it perfectly to suit your tastes. Large windows and a standard panoramic moonroof mean there is plenty of natural light to enjoy the scenery, both inside and out. The only complaints you might ever hear about this cabin will come from those occupying the third-row seats.
Considering its size, it should be no surprise that the BMW is able to slot three rows of seats within its sumptuous cabin. However, it does not fall into the category of utes that do so with ease. The first two rows supply more than enough space for passengers of any size. Of course, even more legroom can be provided to those in the back if you swap out the second-row bench for the available captain's chairs. This lowers the maximum seating capacity from seven to six. But for a luxury brand, quality always places higher than quantity. The third-row, while functional, has limited kneeroom for taller passengers, although the headroom isn't bad. All three rows of seats offer electric adjustability. The front buckets can be adjusted in 16 different directions on the base model, while the rear benches fold down to increase cargo capacity. For the new year, heated front seats are now the standard, but the second-row seats can also be upgraded with this function.
You are unlikely to find a Bimmer with less than the highest quality materials dressing the interior, and the most expensive SUV on offer in the brand's lineup certainly doesn't buck this trend. The most simplistic upholstery available is SensaTec leatherette on the xDrive40i, in plain but elegant Black. For an extra $1,450, this is replaced with Vernasca leather, in a choice of Black, Coffee, or Cognac. You could opt for the soothing Canberra Beige, but since this has to be paired with an Alcantara headliner, the net increase in cost is actually $2,450. Upgrading to the multicontour seats unlocks further upholstery options, namely Merino leather. Available hues include Ivory White, Coffee, Black, or Tartufo, at a total increase in price of $3,200. The priciest option is Ivory White/Night Blue Merino leather at $5,150, although it, too, requires the $1,000 headliner as well as the $1,600 Luxury Seating Package. The M50i skips over the SensaTec and starts at Vernasca leather with no additional cost. This means that all upgrades from here up cost $1,450 less than they do on the base model. Each material can be paired with a choice of trims, including various natural grain woods or Piano Black.
While the X7 may be able to accommodate up to seven people in relative comfort, the same definitely cannot be said for their luggage. Not many three-row SUVs can boast particularly large trunks, but the BMW's storage capacity is still quite embarrassing. With all the seats in place, it can stow a mere 12.8 cubic feet. This may be enough for just two people, but if that's all you need, why not opt for a luxury sedan instead? Since the rear-most seats are not ideal for people, it may be best to leave them folded down in a 50/50 split, which frees up 48.6 cubic feet. This is more than enough for five people to pack all their goodies for an entire weekend away. If you need to move larger items, folding down the second-row seats further increases available space to 90.4 cubic feet.
Around the cabin, there are a variety of small-item storage solutions. Each of the four doors offers a well-sized pocket, while each row of seats receives a pair of cupholders. A standard glovebox and center armrest cubby allow for larger-item storage. A second armrest is provided when the captain's chairs are installed.
Sport utility vehicles at this price range are generally replete with loads of tech, and the BMW X7 SUV is no exception. The xDrive starts things off with 16-way power-adjustable front seats, factory-installed with heating functionality, and a panoramic moonroof. The M50i has 20-way power multicontour front seats instead. Quad-zone climate control keeps all the occupants comfortable, while blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and parking sensors help to keep them all safe. Built-in conveniences comprise remote engine start, power accessories, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Optional upgrades include ventilation for the front seats and heating for the second row. The steering wheel and front armrests are heated as standard. Further improvements comprise a surround-view camera, lane keep assist, semi-autonomous driving technologies, and a head-up display. A standard 12.3-inch driver-information display helps to keep track of all these features.
The infotainment suite centers around a large 12.3-inch touchscreen interface, which comes programmed with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Various USB ports and a wireless charger help to keep your smart devices charged. The standard audio system consists of ten generic speakers, channeling both SiriusXM or HD Radio. Available as part of a package upgrade, or standard on the M50i, a 16-speaker system offers even better quality audio. But if even that is not enough, a 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system is also offered. A rear-seat entertainment system is available to keep the back-seat passengers entertained.
J.D Power's review of the BMW X7's reliability returned a score of 76 out of 100. However, this respectable rating is undermined by the number of recalls it has been subject to over recent years. Both the 2019 and 2020 model years were subject to five recalls each, for reasons including failure of the steering rack, the back-up camera not displaying images correctly, or inadequate rear reflex reflectors.
Despite the addition of mild hybrid components, the Bimmer retains its standard warranty plan. This includes four years/50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper and powertrain coverage, an unlimited 12-year maintenance plan, and three years or 36,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance. Finally, roadside assistance is applicable for the first four years of ownership.
As with many other upscale luxury vehicles, you won't find any safety reviews of the X7 from the NHTSA or IIHS. Crashing one of these German beauties is simply too costly, but the sheer number of safety mechanisms, both standard and available, should be enough to set any buyer's mind at ease.
Plenty of safety features come standard on the Bimmer, including a rearview camera, dynamic cruise control, and all-round parking sensors. Other driver-assist tech comprises blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and pre-collision avoidance. The mechanical safety measures include ABS, traction and stability control, and six airbags: dual front, front side, and side curtain. A number of extra systems can be installed at extra cost, such as lane keep assist, automated parking assist, active cruise control, a surround-view camera, or a head-up display.
The 2021 BMW X7 won't appeal to everyone, but then again, it wasn't designed to. Most full-size SUVs try to be fun, practical, or luxurious, rarely daring to combine all these aspects. But the German automaker proves that it can be done.
The fun comes from two powerful engine options, though calling the V8 powerful is a huge understatement. These combine with a refined transmission and expertly crafted handling to deliver a driving experience you'd never expect from a bulky high-rider. Practicality is covered by three rows of seats, capable of accommodating up to seven passengers in a fair degree of comfort, or five with more than enough room to spare for luggage. The 7,500-pound towing capacity doesn't hurt either. And of course, BMW is practically a synonym for luxury in the USA. The interior is immaculate, and there are countless features devoted to keeping the occupants happy and safe.
Still, the X7 isn't perfect. Some might say it spreads itself a little thin by trying to be perfect at everything, so naturally, competition from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS beat it in choice areas. Still, it's a remarkable achievement. However, with its extremely restrictive price tag, not many will be able to experience what it has to offer, and we definitely envy those that can afford one. Most of us just have to settle for a test drive and a dream.
As a premium vehicle, the BMW X7 has a price tag to match its prestige. The base price of the entry-level xDrive40i is already a pretty hefty $74,900, but since BMW has a habit of making you pay extra for just about everything, you should expect this figure to increase substantially. But, if money is not an issue, the M50i goes on sale for just shy of six figures, at $99,800 MSRP. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and the automaker's $995 destination charge.
For 2021, the X7 lineup has been simplified, leaving just two models in the range: the xDrive40i and the M50i. This also means simplified engine options. Under the hood of the 40i is a 3.0L inline-six that develops 335 hp and 331 lb-ft, while the M50i gets a 4.4L V8 putting out 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. Both powertrains are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that directs outputs to all four wheels.
The entry-level trim rides on 21-inch wheels and is equipped with full LED headlights, daytime running lights, and fog lights. The cabin is upholstered in SensaTec, with 16-way power heated front seats, and three rows with power-folding rear seats. Standard features include quad-zone climate control, dynamic cruise control, a 12.3-inch driver-info display, blind-spot monitoring, remote engine start, and a panoramic moonroof. The infotainment suite comprises a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, SiriusXM, and a ten-speaker sound system.
The M50i looks a bit different with the larger 22-inch wheels and aerodynamic kit. Inside, it replaces the SensaTec with Vernasca leather, laid over 20-way power-adjustable multicontour front seats. The infotainment is upgraded with a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Beneath the surface, it has M Sport parts like a sport differential and exhaust system.
It's not unusual for BMW to leave quite a few desirable features off of its most popular vehicles, but they can still be as part of the list of packages or standalone options. Some noteworthy mentions include the Premium Package ($2,550) for the base model, which adds a head-up display, infotainment gesture control, soft-close doors, and 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround system. Available on both models, the Executive Package ($1,300 - $3,850) builds on this with heated and cooled cupholders, a panoramic sky lounge LED roof, and a glass shifter and control knobs. The Dynamic Handling Package ($3,450 - $3,850) equips each of the SUVs with Integral Active Steering and Active Comfort Drive, as well as M Sport Brakes for the xDrive40i. The base model can be equipped with the $4,350 M Sport Package with 21-inch M wheels, an M steering wheel, and Shadowline exterior trim.
A machine this large has no business being a high-performance speedster. Regardless of how much power it has, it will never be a truly fun, athletic driver, so it makes more sense to focus on getting the most comfort and luxury out of it. The money you save by opting for the cheaper xDrive40i is better spent on stacking on some desirable packages, like the Executive and Luxury Seating packages. If you want to make driving as relaxing as possible, the Parking Assistance and Driving Assistance Professional packages do a lot of the work for you. And, if you plan on taking the whole family away for a vacation, you'll want the trailer hitch, since the trunk simply can't accommodate that much luggage with the third row of seats in their upright position. This allows the SUV to tow up to 7,500 lbs.
One of the closest competitors to the X7, the Audi Q7 is another example of European luxury done right. The standard inline-four is a bit lackluster in comparison, developing only 248 hp and 273 lb-ft, but the turbocharged V6 is more on par at 335 hp and 369 lb-ft, while the SQ7 can almost match the M50i. However, with around 300 - 600 lbs less weight to lug around, it might be even more fun to drive. In terms of tech, it is equipped with most of the same features found on the top-tier BMW SUV, like a dual-touchscreen infotainment interface. The Q7 is a little more practical, with 14.2 cubic feet of standard cargo space behind the third row, but the overall cabin space is a little tighter. The materials used in the X7 are also higher quality, especially on the highest-spec model. However, while the BMW is the better choice overall, those shopping for luxury on a slightly tighter budget might prefer the Audi Q7, which starts at just $54,950.
The Merc GLS may not be quite as powerful as the X7, but it can match or surpass it in many other aspects. So, while it may top out at 483 hp and 516 lb-ft, its interior is peerless, and it manages to provide seating for seven with more space to spare than the BMW. This includes cargo capacity, where the GLS offers 17.4 cubic feet behind its third row as opposed to 12.8 cubes in the BMW. The two German automobiles are similarly priced, though, so the best value for your money will really depend on your personal priorities. If you want the most opulent family hauler than money can buy, the GLS takes the cake, but if you want a little spice in your life, the BMW X7 offers more fun.