Six letters that, twenty years ago, most car people would have told you would never go together. BMW SUV.
The world has changed. Porsche proved that the way to keep making sports cars is to make fast, comfortable, good-handling big SUVs to pay for them. Audi and Mercedes-Benz followed, and now BMW is actually the last to the party...but the new BMW X7 absolutely qualifies as making one heck of an entrance.
Let's start on the outside. BMW went for the commanding presence here. A huge chrome grille and a bulldog-like stance.
Move around to the sides and the rear and there are two impressions---it's massive and it's solid. It's also very attractive.
The 2019 BMW X7 xDrive 40i is a three-row SUV with a decent amount of cargo room even with the third row of seats in use. The second and third rows fold at the touch of a button for longer loads, and the second and third-row seats even automatically slide forward to provide the correct amount of clearance so the back rows fold totally flat---and then move back to the position you had them in originally, if there's room.
The driver and front row passenger are treated to a commanding view of the road, easy-to-reach controls and a massive information/entertainment screen.
Even when the big screen is occupied with entertainment, the driver can keep tabs of navigation through an insert in the gauge cluster.
There are three X7 models. All are xDrive, which is BMW's all-wheel-drive system. The top of the line is the X7 M50i, from BMW's M Performance division. It has a 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 making 523 horsepower and rocketing this massive machine to 60 miles an hour from a standing start in 4.5 seconds. There's also the 50i (no "M"), which has a less-powerful version of that same twin-turbo V8. That's 456 horsepower, with 0-60 taking 5.2 seconds.
Our tester was---well, it feels silly to call any variation of the X7 a base model---but---the 40i. It has a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six with 335 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds.
A difference of 121 horsepower sounds huge, but that's only a six-tenths of a second spread between the 40i and the 50i to 60 miles per hour. And the 40i's inline six (a BMW specialty) is silky-smooth and returns an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 25 on the highway, which is a strong fuel economy showing for a vehicle in this size class.
I had the opportunity to take the X7 on some winding roads in the foothills, and , especially in "Sport" mode, the BMW DNA came shining through. You'll never mistake it for the M340i sedan, but you can tell the same philosophy is at work here---to build a comfortable, high-quality machine that loves to run and is fun to drive.
Of course, engineering and performance are not bargain-priced commodities. The base price of the 2019 BMW X7 xDrive 40i is $73,900. At that price, though, you do get a lot for your money:
- 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six.
- Eight-speed Sport Automatic transmission with sport and manual shift modes, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and launch control.
- Driving dynamics control with ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes.
- Dynamic stability control.
- Brake fade compensation, start-off assistant, brake drying and brake stand-by.
- Dynamic traction control.
- Dynamic brake control.
- Two-axle self-leveling air suspension.
- Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with anti-lock braking system, brake pad wear indicators and cornering brake control.
- Adaptive LED headlights.
- LED foglights.
- Power-folding, heated side mirrors.
- Heated 16-way power front seats including four-way lumbar support and driver's memory.
- Hi-Fi audio system with HD Radio and a one-year SiriusXM All Access subscription.
- Apple CarPlay compatibility with a one-year subscription.
About that. Apple CarPlay is rapidly becoming standard equipment on even the least-expensive cars. BMW has chosen to lock it away in an app store, and charge its buyers $80 a year after the first year to use it. In this price class, eighty bucks is the very definition of nickel-and-diming, and BMW should be ashamed. Another issue before we continue---in any other car, you plug your phone into the USB port, it asks if you want to use Apple CarPlay and that's it. But---maybe because of the app and subscription thing---BMW, at least in the X7, routes Apple CarPlay through Bluetooth. Which is kinda what Apple CarPlay replaced, for most of us. Sure, there's the advantage of your phone not leaving your pocket, and you can charge the phone wirelessly instead of through the USB cord---but, at least on first setup---and, to be honest, a few times during the past week, it's taken a lot longer to get to what I wanted via Apple CarPlay while Bluetooth was trying to connect.
Now back to the standard equipment:
- BMW Live Cockpit including navigation with iDrive 7.0, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, natural voice control and traffic and on-street parking information (in selected cities).
- Remote software upgrade capable.
- Panoramic moonroof.
- Comfort access keyless entry.
- Power tailgate.
- Park distance control front and rear.
- Rearview camera.
- Active Driving Assistant including frontal collision warning, lane departure warning and active blind spot detection.
- Sport leather steering wheel.
- Runflat tires.
- Satin aluminum exterior trim.
- Universal garage door opener.
- Fineline brown wood trim.
- Luggage compartment package.
- Automatic high beams.
- Active protection.
- Decoding for no-dazzle high-beams.
- Active guard.
- Wireless charging.
- WiFi hotspot.
- CD player prep.
- Anthracite Alcantara headliner.
- Individual door sill finishers.
Again, all standard. So, for $73,900, you could have a very well-equipped large, luxury SUV. But our test vehicle didn't stop there. There were extra-cost options:
- Cold Weather Package (heated front seats, armrest and steering wheel, front and rear heated seats, five-zone automatic climate control): $1,200.
- Ivory White/Night Blue Merino leather interior: $5,150.
- Drivers Assistance Pro Package (Traffic Jam Assist, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Emergency Stop Assistant, Evasion Aid): $1,700.
- Luxury Seating Package (20-way powered multi-contoured seats, front ventilated seats, front massaging seats): $1,600.
- Off-Road Package (Mechanical differential lock, four off-road driving modes that adjust vehicle height, accelerator response and transmission control): $1,650.
- Parking Assistance Package (Drive Recorder, which keeps a video of the vehicle surroundings, Surround View with 3D View, Parking Assistance Plus): $700.
- Premium Package (Gesture Control, head up display, remote engine start, soft-close automatic doors, rear electric side window shades and a 12-speaker, 360-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system): $3,000.
There's an additional charge of $300 on the window sticker for "remote engine start", though that's included in the Premium Package.
- 22-inch multi-spoke performance wheels: $1,300.
- Display Key: $300.
- Running boards: $400.
- Glass controls: $650.
- Leather dashboard: $1,250.
- Panoramic sky lounge LED roof: $750.
- Rear seat entertainment: $2,200.
- 20-speaker, 1,500 watt Bowers & Wilkins surround audio system: $3,400.
With $995 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $100,395.
That may seem a little steep, but the face is you can option a Cadillac Escalade so that it costs more than that---and the new Lincoln Navigator is right in that ballpark too.
The BMW X7 is a premium piece. Apart from my quibble about its approach to Apple CarPlay, it is a crave-worthy machine that justifies its price tag.