Pros and Cons on BMW’s largest-ever SUV, a 2020 SUV of the Year contender
- It’s how quick?
- Third-row amenities
- Rich interior
- Slow-folding second row
- Lots of body roll
- Oh, that grille
Want a proper third row for your BMW SUV? Time to celebrate. The most capacious BMW ever has arrived. And this 203.3-inch-long family hauler makes a ridiculous entrance by wearing one of the most obnoxious, lip-plumping-gone-wrong grilles we’ve seen.
Maybe that’s why the X7 is so quick—to outrun criticism of its imposing front end. Even with its base engine, the six- to seven-seat BMW feels swift. Credit partially goes to that 335-hp six-cylinder engine and responsive eight-speed automatic. But the sensation of speed also originates from an excessive amount of ponderous body roll.
“You can certainly tell on winding roads that this is the first time BMW engineers have developed something this big,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said.
Consumers might expect a bulky driving experience from enormous three-row luxury SUVs, but the new Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class proves that’s not always the case. It’s an engineering advance GLS drivers will appreciate over time as their daily errand run feels less tiring than it would in the X7.
That said, MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina lavished praise on the BMW’s ride: “I was surprised by how well the suspension absorbs undulations and how quiet the cabin is.”
Not that passengers in the BMW X7’s second and third rows will have anything to complain about. Kids (or patient adults) in the third row of loaded X7s get their own heated seats, wood trim, sunroof and sunroof cover controls, vents with a separate climate control zone, and power-operated backrest controls. But moving that second-row seat forward for easy third-row access or exit takes an unacceptably long time; if you plan to use the third row regularly, we recommend you opt for the second-row captain’s chairs to facilitate access to the back.
Regardless of where you’re sitting, driver and passengers should appreciate the X7’s hushed cabin. And up front, the available diamond-cut crystal controls are either an exquisite addition to an already opulent interior or, per features editor Scott Evans, part of an irritating design trend that needs to end.
One place the X7 out-poshes Mercedes are the available second-row headrests.
“The X7 copies the Mercedes S-Class and GLS with pillow-like leather headrests, and beats both in execution,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said.
Also impressive: the X7’s fuel economy. Few vehicles can transport as many people in comfort as this BMW yet still hit 60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds and achieve EPA-rated fuel economy of 20/25 mpg (11.8/9.4 L/100 km) city/highway. That contributes to a bladder-busting highway cruising range well in excess of 500 miles.
Even the eight-cylinder X7 xDrive50i’s 15/21 mpg (15.7/11.2 L/100 km) is respectable when matched against the Lincoln Navigator, a slower SUV of the Year finalist from last year with similar fuel economy. See how we’re helping you justify a 456-hp family hauler? You’re welcome.
Where the BMW offers its biggest value play against its Mercedes rival, however, is the eight-cylinder models’ as-tested acceleration to 60 mph. The 483-hp GLS 580 has more power than the 456-hp X7 xDrive50i, but the BMW destroys the Benz on the track, with a sizable 0.7-second advantage at 60.
Bragging rights aside, the lighter X7 xDrive40i is probably the model we’d pick. Although the luxury SUV never drives as small as a 7 Series (or even an X5), the fuel economy and range is better than the Merc’s, and you’ll have more money for options, including a $3,400 USD, 500-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system complete with tweeters that have their own ambient lighting accent.
And that’s great, but this X7 is let down by its polarizing design, excessive body roll, and a glacial power-folding second row. But hey, as Loh said, “if you want to take the extended family on a tour, the X7 is your ride.” Executive editor Mark Rechtin concurs: “The new executive shuttle has arrived.”
|2019 BMW X7 xDrive40i||2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i|
|Base Price/As Tested||$74,895/$92,895||$93,595/$112,245|
|Power (SAE net)||335 hp @ 5,500 rpm||456 hp @ 5,250 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||330 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm||479 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||5.7 sec||4.7 sec|
|Quarter Mile||14.2 sec @ 97.8 mph||13.2 sec @ 107.3 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||140 ft||136 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.78 g (avg)||0.79 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.6 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)||27.0 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||20/25/22 mpg||15/21/17 mpg|