BMW luxurious X7 is worth the wait

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Andrew Muzamhindo
Analyst

BMW has finally added a large three-row crossover SUV to its line-up: the X7.

Customers with large families were out buying three-row SUVs from its competitors, BMW was busy trying to convince the world that smaller SUVs are the real deal. They were even launching smaller SUVs until they ran out of whole numbers to use in their names. You surely cannot go below X1.

BMW has finally turned its attention towards families looking for a luxurious, spacious, and capable vehicle. What is unique about the X7, though, is that BMW did not let this SUV’s gargantuan proportions dictate how it drives. The X7 may just be the best-driving three-row SUV you can buy. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive.

The X7 has gotten grief for its oversized interpretation of BMW’s iconic kidney grille. Yes, it is every bit as large in person as it looks in pictures. That said, it is not offensively big, at least not enough to count against the X7’s overall styling. In fact, the grille is the most interesting element of an otherwise conservative, if not boring, design.

While the overall exterior design might be lacking inspiration, at least the details are interesting and impeccably executed. The designers used satin brightwork on the exterior, especially immediately after the front wheels and across the front fascia where it half surrounds the air intakes.

Inside is a different story. BMW has upped its interior game, beginning with the X7 and carrying over to the updated 7 Series. The cabin’s styling is high-end, high-quality, high-tech, and highly functional. The dashboard features a largely logical layout that incorporates premium materials like real wood and metal. It has optional glass controls that add Swarovski crystal shifter, iDrive controller, start or stop button, and volume knob. Volvo did it first with optional crystal gear shifter, but the effect is no less pleasing in this BMW.

Ride comfort in the X7 is good, though buyers should know that BMW does not make pillowy soft suspensions. The X7 does a decent job of smoothing out bumps and masking noise and vibration while doing so, but BMW has kept some firmness in the suspension to preserve decent handling characteristics. The balance, though, is excellent, where neither comfort nor cornering ability seems prioritized too much at the expense of the other.

In regards to space, the X7 is the largest BMW ever made, but it is not the largest three-row luxury crossover SUV you can buy. Dimensions are generous in all directions for passengers in the first and second row, but both cargo space and room for third-row passengers falls behind some of the competition.

Front-seat passengers in the X7 xDrive50i get standard 20-way power seats. Second-row passengers ride on a standard three-across bench. The premium model has a pair of captain’s chairs at an extra cost. The standalone seats do not get as many seat adjustments as the front chairs, but do get removable pillow headrests that make napping away the hours of a road trip a pleasure rather than a pain.

As for the third row, ingress and egress are easy, and once seated, headroom and legroom are reasonable for, too. While a generously accommodating third-row is not the X7’s claim to fame, it is not terrible back there and at least the windows are large enough to alleviate some claustrophobia.

It has the brand’s seventh-generation iDrive infotainment system, which features even larger and sharper screens, more impressive graphics, lickety-split response times, and great input options.

Both of the interior’s screens, one atop the centre dash for infotainment needs and one behind the wheel for gauges and driving information, are 12,3-inches large and impress with their sharpness and vivid colours. BMW also offers a large head-up display with multiple colours and high-res graphics.

The X7 also supports your cellphone with wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay. 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity also comes standard, but there is a subscription to be paid for it.

In terms of handling, the X7 feels light on its wheels. The steering is quick and the rest of the car changes direction willingly, making it seem lighter and more tossable than a vehicle weighing 2 548kg should. In my notes, I have written: “One of, if not the best-handling three-row SUVs.”

BMW needed a robust power plant for the X7 and found one in the company’s twin-turbocharged 4,4-litre V8. The engine produces 445 horsepower and 664Nm of torque, which gets routed to all four wheels through a quick-shifting eight-speed transmission.

The X7 also requires Premium fuel, but that is common for the segment. What is not common is its relatively small fuel tank, which allows for only 600km of range.

Again, BMW has managed to imbue its V8 with a dual nature, where it operates with silent grace in most situations and releases a reservoir of thrust when summoned. It has got two turbos, but they are virtually invisible with zero lag.

Every safety system that BMW offers comes standard on the X7 xDrive50i. This includes simpler technology such as blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert, as well as more advanced systems such as automatic emergency braking at high and low speeds and lane keep assist. Exterior lighting is also top of the line on the X7, with adaptive swiveling LED headlights and LED fog lights up front, and progressive LED brake lights out back.

Lastly, visibility outward is exceptional in the X7. There is lots of glass to see through in all directions, including over your shoulder and in the rear-view mirror. Also, the X7 comes with an excellent rear-view camera that includes both a 360-degree and 3D view, both which make parking this giant particularly easy.

andrew@muzamhindo.com

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