The BMW X7 is new territory for the German automaker. Up until now BMW hasn’t dabbled in the upper-large SUV space, which left the BMW X5 as its biggest wagon offering while chief rival Mercedes-Benz virtually had that end of the SUV segment to itself with the GLS-Class (formerly the GL-Class).
That’s now changed. The X7 is here and represents a significant step up from the X5 in terms of size. Not only that, but it’s virtually a limousine on stilts. Not only is the interior huge, but it’s fitted out with plenty of luxe features and furnishings. The X7 xDrive30d model we’re testing here is the entrypoint to the range, but as we found out it feels far from basic.
To hop into the X7 xDrive30d, which for now is the most affordable variant in the X7 range, you’ll need to fork over $119,900 before any on-road costs. A fair wedge of cash, but consider that it’s just under $7K more than the smaller X5 xDrive30d and its value becomes apparent.
Yes, you can get a three-row config for the X5, but in reality it’s more of a 5+2 proposition. If you’re hunting for a proper seven-seat SUV, the X7’s extra spend is well worth it considering its far more capacious interior.
How’s it compare to the competition? Well, the current Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d is a smidge cheaper at $119,100 and makes very similar power and torque, but is on the cusp of replacement. The Audi Q7 is shorter and narrower and thus more aligned with the X5, but also slightly cheaper with a $106,900 retail.
As for the $134,129 Lexus LX 450d, the X7 actually has a sizable price advantage – normally the value relationship is flipped when it comes to BMW/Lexus comparisons. Meanwhile the cheapest version of the Range Rover Vogue TDV6 starts at $190K, meaning it’s not even in the same league. The X7’s value offering is certainly compelling within its segment.
Where to begin. Standard equipment highlights include sumptuous leather upholstery and velour floor mats (velour!), quad zone climate control, soft-close doors, a head-up display, air suspension, power-adjustable front and second-row seats (the fronts being heated), a panoramic glass sunroof (with glass over the third row as well), and a wireless phone charger
Parking assist is also on the standard equipment list, and a pretty handy feature given the X7’s massive dimensions, while the infotainment system is BMW’s latest-gen system with built-in sat-nav, a broad suite of internet-enabled features, media streaming, Apple CarPlay and gesture controls.
Predictably for BMW’s SUV flagship, there’s plenty of scope to enhance that equipment list even further through the options list.
Our tester showed what was possible, with five-zone climate control giving those in the third row their own ventilation control panel, heated and cooled cupholders up front, laser headlamps, a punchy Harman/Kardon premium audio system, ultra-supple leater upholstey on the seats and dashboard, an alcantara headlining and even more electric adjustment for the front seats.
Naturally, that elevates the pricetag somewhat. All of the above bumped up the cost of our X7 30d tester to a hefty $143,050 before on-roads.
The X7 is massive. Measuring in at 5.15 metres long and 2.0 metres wide, it occupies a fair patch of road real estate. Its 3.1 metre wheelbase is also substantial, and a key indicator of just how much cabin space it boasts. It’s easily one of the biggest SUVs on the market today.
The X7 is equipped with a bevy of driver-assist systems, including ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control, lane keep assist, active cruise control, parking assist, a top-down camera view and autonomous emergency braking.
All seats including the third row get three-point seatbelts, while there are five child seat ISOFIX anchorages across the second and third rows. Eight airbags protect occupants in a crash, covering dual front, front side, full-length curtain, driver’s knee and passenger knee.
Think of BMW’s 7-Series limousine. Now jack it up into the air and add another row of seating. That’s the X7: opulent, and elevated.
In fact, the X7’s cabin is one of BMW’s best so far. Following on from the classy X5 that launched last year, the X7 carries similar design themes albeit scaled up to accommodate its more generous internal dimensions. And the execution is flawless.
As for the comfort on offer, it’s another BMW-best. The optional front seats can adjust in almost every conceivable dimension to hug your body just-so, and the tall vantage point from the driver’s seat gives a commanding view of the road. The view through the side glass is expansive, the infotainment system is slick and intuitive to use (though the gesture controls take some familiarisation to get the most out of) and as you’d expect, there’s sprawling space aplenty.
The electrically-adjusted second row is similarly commodious, and though the seat cushions aren’t as deeply-sculpted as the front, they still give plenty of support – and enough width across the bench for three adults. Vents on the B-pillars and back of the centre console ensure good ventilation, and the rear climate controls further enhance back seat comfort.
However, the third row is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the X7’s interior.
Simply put, that third row is best-in-class as far as comfort is concerned. Those in the rearmost seats get their own cupholders, leather-upholstered armrests, USB-C charge ports (one per side), and generously-sized quarter-windows that actually provide a decent view of the outside world. Overhead is a fixed glass sunroof with retractable shade, which helps limit any sensation of claustrophobia. This is one of the best third rows on the market, by far, and certainly roomy enough for a pair of adults to be comfortable for a reasonable duration.
What’s more, there’s still a decent amount of cargo space behind the third row backrests when they’re raised, with enough room between them and the horizontally-split power-operated tailgate for 326 litres of capacity – enough for a couple of suitcases or a week’s worth of shopping. Stowing those seats is also simple, with push-button electric actuation taking care of raising and lowering them.
Downsides? Tipping the second-row seats forward to gain access to the third row is excruciatingly slow, as the process is done electrically rather than manually. Those motors could surely move faster.
ON THE ROAD
The X7 xDrive30d tips the scales at a hefty 2.4 tonnes, though you’d hardly know it from the driver’s seat. Riding on air suspension and equipped with steering that’s light yet direct, it drives more like a car than a truck.
Part of that comes down to the 3.0-litre turbo diesel six cylinder. Though it’s the least powerful engine currently on offer (the heavy-hitting quad-turbo diesel M50d sits above it), the 30d still enjoys a stout 195kW of power and 620Nm of torque. Power goes to all four wheels via a silky-smooth eight-speed automatic and clever AWD system, and the mechanical combo gets the heavy wagon to 100km/h in a claimed seven seconds flat.
That’s rapid for such a big bus.
It handles well, too, especially on our tester’s 22-inch alloys. Best of all, though, is its pleasingly supple ride, which irons out all but the worst roads and isolates driver and passengers from bumps and thumps with astonishing effectiveness. Couple that with an engine that’s incredibly quiet, and the X7 makes for a very relaxing long-distance cruiser. If you're the type who likes the idea of putting the whole family in the car and taking a roadtrip, the X7 is arguably the ideal machine for it.
Heading offroad? Adding more ground clearance can be done at the press of a button, though be aware that your only recourse in the event of a puncture is a can of goo for the run-flat tyres. For those who just want to tow, the X7 is definitely a better choice than the X5. Its maximum braked tow capacity of 2200kg is 300kg up on that of the X5 xDrive30d, and with 620Nm of torque on hand, it should make light work of towing anything you'd care to attach to it.
It’s a strange sign of the times when one of BMW’s most convincing cars is also one of its biggest, heaviest, and priciest. Nevertheless, the X7 is a highlight of the company’s present-day showroom, and a prime example of how good a car can be when it’s been tailored to its intended purpose.
Providing enough space for seven to sit in good comfort is obviously the prime directive, but BMW has gone well beyond that to deliver a car that isn’t just big, but impressively finished, well-equipped, great to drive and competitively priced.
Its front-end design may be a bit to gaudy for some thanks to that super-sized kidney grille, but objectively the X7 is a proper winner in xDrive30d guise.