The flagship SUV is getting a ton of tech to rival the Mercedes GLS.
The BMW X7 is by far the company's most practical model. Seating up to seven occupants in a tasteful and luxurious cabin, the full-size X7 has impressed us since it went on sale in 2019, even if its design was initially polarizing. It's now time for the X7 to be refreshed to keep it competitive against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class. We already saw the X7's new design with split headlights a few weeks ago when it leaked online, but that was a single grainy image; now we have an entire gallery to peruse.
Besides the looks, the latest X7 benefits from a bump up in power and the brand's latest infotainment interface running iDrive 8 software. Many other smaller updates add up to one of BMW's most extensive facelifts in some time.
We'll start with the exterior, though, which likely provides more than a hint of what to expect from the next 7 Series. BMW says that the front end introduces a new design language for its luxury models. The split headlights consist of high-mounted LED daytime running lights, while lower LED units are for the low- and high-beam headlights. These have a deep-set position and dark housing so they aren't too visible when they aren't switched on. The grille itself has been updated with new grille bars with chrome elements. On the M60i, the grille is illuminated as standard. While the split-headlight design is distinctive, we're less convinced by the fussy lower section with large satin aluminum inlays and an outward-facing contour.
At the back, the changes are more subtle. The taillights now have three-dimensional sculpting and BMW says they generate greater light intensity. The facelifted Alpina XB7 will receive its customary four oval tailpipes when that model is shown. Besides the design changes, BMW has introduced 14 new colors including Sparkling Copper Grey metallic and M Marina Bay Blue metallic, an option reserved for the M60i. Models with the M Sport Package are characterized by a larger lower air intake, 21-inch M light-alloy wheels, trapezoidal tailpipe finishers, and more.
For the high-performance M60i, the X7 is decked out with 22-inch wheels, the aforementioned illuminated grille, and aerodynamically optimized M exterior mirrors. For the first time on a BMW, 23-inch wheels will be available.
Outside of the Alpina XB7, the standard X7 comes in two powerful trims: xDrive40i and M60i. The xDrive40i uses the brand's classic 3.0-liter inline-six turbocharged engine which now makes 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, increases of 40 hp and 52 lb-ft respectively. It is bolstered by a mild-hybrid system and 48V battery, temporarily boosting torque to 398 lb-ft. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the xDrive40i can accelerate from 0-60 mph in only 5.6 seconds.
Also new is the M60i variant. It uses an updated 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 with its own 48V mild-hybrid system to develop 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. It will propel the heavy X7 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
As for the XB7, it also has a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and mild-hybrid system but is tuned to deliver 630 hp and 590 lb-ft, dropping the 0-60 sprint to four seconds and increasing the top speed to 180 mph.
BMW makes special mention of the eight-speed transmission's new Sprint function which provides a quick burst of speed when the left-hand shift paddle is pulled for at least one second. Speed is one thing, but the X7 must also retain its high comfort levels. An adaptive two-axle air suspension helps in this regard, but the M60i now comes with Integral Active Steering and active roll stabilization too, both options on the xDrive40i.
The Integral Active Steering increases agility at lower speeds and makes maneuvering the large SUV easier. With rear-wheel steering, the turning circle is also reduced. Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview is also standard on the M60i and uses camera-based anticipation data to scan the road ahead and make adjustments as required.
Climb inside the latest X7 and there are some significant changes to what was already a classy cabin. The BMW Curved Display combines a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel with a 14.9-inch central display. They are merged behind a single glass surface. This marks a big change from the separate 12.3-inch displays used previously.
Fortunately, BMW has retained the physical iDrive controller, voice control, gesture control, and a touchscreen, so the driver can still decide how best to interact with the system. The infotainment now runs the latest iDrive 8 software, with powerful processing speeds and a long list of connected services. For instance, the BMW ID allows one to easily personalize and store vehicle settings. 5G connectivity linked to a standard Personal eSIM is now standard, and there is a new Augmented View function for the navigation system.
Below the touchscreen is a new center console control panel with controls for the start/stop button, the electric parking brake, and more. Optional glass controls are available. BMW has redesigned the air vents, too. For the xDrive40i, there is a new vegan upholstery called Sensafin which has leather-like properties and three-dimensional quilting. These cover newly standard multi-contour front comfort seats. Full Merino leather is an option. The sporty M60i stands out with its M-specific ambient lighting bar and a headliner in Anthracite Alcantara. One other new optional feature is the BMW Digital Key Plus which allows customers to lock/unlock the X7 with their Apple iPhone.
The new interior looks beautiful but we aren't fans of the tacky 'X7' insignia with odd, skewed arrows that have been incorporated into the trim strip on the passenger side. More useful is the expanded range of safety equipment, with the forward-collision warning system now reacting to oncoming traffic. Exit warning is also new and can alert occupants to an approaching vehicle or cyclist before a door is opened.
Clearly, BMW left no stone unturned in upgrading the X7. It's more powerful, has a more commanding presence than before, and the technology inside the cabin is astounding. When it launches in the USA in the third quarter of 2022, it will start at $77,850 for the xDrive40i, a $2,950 increase compared to the current base model. The M60i costs $103,100 ($3,300 more than the existing M50i), but pricing for the 2023 Alpina XB7 - which launches early next year - hasn't been announced yet.