BMW X7 SUV (2019 - ) review
The BMW X7 is the largest SUV in the company’s range, appealing to luxury car buyers as much as it does well-heeled families looking for extra space. Direct rivals include the Mercedes GLS and Range Rover, but it also competes with luxury saloons.
Interested in buying a BMW X7?
How good does it look?
The design theme of the exterior of the BMW X7 is clearly ‘presence’ and that kicks off with the largest radiator grille BMW has ever created. In contrast, the high-tech headlights that flank it are slender and delicate, but that’s the only time you’ll find that word in this review. The massive sides of the X7 are broken up by a notably large glass area and trim along the bottom of the doors. The rear doors, incidentally, are longer than the fronts, which indicates how important access to the back seats is. At the rear of the X7, the lights are joined by a chrome strip, as on the 7 Series saloon , a car that BMW wants to align the X7 with in buyers’ minds. The X7 rolls on 21-inch alloy wheels at a minimum, with 22-inch rims available as an option or depending on the model.
What's the interior like?
Befitting a car at the top of the BMW line-up, the X7’s interior is sumptuously appointed and of very high quality. Every surface you touch and every switch you use feels good. It’s also an impressive-looking cabin, thanks to a dashboard made up of two 12.3-inch digital screens. The first, in front of the driver, replaces traditional instruments with a customisable display. It looks sharp, especially the way the sat-nav instructions are displayed within the other information. Saying that, it’s not always easy to read the speedo at a glance. A touch-screen of the same size dominates the middle of the dashboard and it’s quick to react and easy to use. All of the X7’s seats come with a lot of electric adjustment, making it a cinch to get comfortable.
How practical is it?
As standard, all versions of the BMW X7 have seating for seven. And, we can confirm that means seven adults, as even the rearmost two seats come with plenty of headroom, legroom and even space under the seats in front for feet. What’s more, there’s an extra glass panel in the roof above the third row to reduce the feeling of claustrophobia. The seating layout is altered electrically, with separate buttons for maximum luggage volume or maximum passenger space, for example. It’s a bit slow in changing from one arrangement to another, but that shouldn’t be a major issue for owners. Access to the boot is via an electrically-operated split tailgate and the minimum volume (326 litres) isn’t far off that of a Ford Focus, while all rear seats can be folded down flat to free up more space. The X7 can also be ordered with a six-seat layout, with two separate chairs in row two for the ultimate in luxury.
What's it like to drive?
Comfort is top priority for most luxury car buyers and that’s what the BMW X7 majors on. Its inherent quietness helps with this, but so too does the standard-fit air suspension. This is particularly effective on the open road and on the motorway, absorbing bumps and isolating the car’s passengers from the surface underneath. Despite this focus on comfort, the X7 resists lean in the corners well, allowing it to carry high speeds in safety and giving the driver confidence in its stability. The sportier M50d version feels tauter again, at the expense of some comfort. Buyers that spend a lot of time in town should consider upgrading to BMW’s four-wheel-steering system (called Integral Active Steer), as it helps with the X7’s manoeuvrability. There’s also an off-road package for those that are likely to take their X7 away from solid ground at times, and it’s quite capable thanks to a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system.
How powerful is it?
While there’s no such thing as a slow version of the BMW X7, the character of your car is affected by your choice of engine. The X7 xDrive40i uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine that is smooth and quiet and fine for ambling around town, but when the car is full and the road turns hilly, even its 340 horsepower is merely adequate rather than fast. Things couldn’t be more different in the range-topping M50d, which uses a quad-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine producing 400 horsepower, but what makes it feel so rapid is its unbelievable low-down pulling power; it is genuinely faster in a straight line than many hot hatches. However, most drivers will be perfectly happy with the X7 xDrive30d diesel. Though its 265-horsepower figure is lower than the petrol version’s, it has superior low-speed pulling power, making it feel faster in everyday life. All engines are paired with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox.
How much will it cost me?
All large SUVs, and indeed large luxury saloons, are relatively expensive to run, and the BMW X7 is no different. It runs on wide, costly tyres, insurance premiums won’t be cheap and, though BMW makes efficient engines, the X7 won’t be as frugal as the smaller cars in its range. Nonetheless, the X7 is one of the most economical options in the sector and offsetting its purchase price (which, in fairness, is on a par with rival SUVs) will be strong resale values. BMW includes a three-year unlimited mileage warranty with its new cars and offers buyers fixed-price servicing packages, too.
How reliable is it?
As this is BMW’s first ever X7 model, there’s very little reliability data of note to call upon. It shares its electronics with other models in the BMW line-up, but they’re still too new to get a handle on their reliability. The engines have been around for longer and in general are quite robust, though as we’ve seen in the past, BMWs can get expensive to maintain as they get older. However, owners of new X7s should expect exemplary reliability within the first few years of the car’s life.
How safe is it?
By way of reference, the BMW X5, with which the X7 shares much, fared very well in the Euro NCAP safety tests, so there’s no doubt that the bigger car is inherently safe. Along with the expected array of airbags around the cabin, the X7 comes as standard with a system that attempts to reduce the effects of a collision that the car detects as imminent. This includes a side airbag for the rear seats, pre-tensioning of the seatbelts, closing of the windows and sunroof and even applying the brakes automatically after the crash. It is a shame, though, that the all-encompassing ‘Driving Assistant Professional’, which bundles together various active safety and driver assistance systems, is optional as part of a larger package, and this only comes at considerable cost.
How much equipment do I get?
The X7 line-up is quite simple. Buyers choose either the entry-level – and fabulously named - Design Pure Excellence model or the sportier-looking M Sport version, while the M50d gets a unique specification based on the M Sport package with a few technical upgrades. All cars are generously equipped as standard, including such niceties as large alloy wheels, LED lighting, leather upholstery, electrically adjusted and heated seats (front and rear) and a sophisticated self-parking system. The comprehensive infotainment system features gesture and voice control (the former pointless, the latter really good), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sat-nav, DAB radio and various online services, while BMW also throws in what it calls its Display Key. This is much too big for our liking, though some might like its touch-screen functionality and constant communication with the car.
There are surprisingly few high-luxury SUVs on the market, and fewer again that can actually seat up to seven adults in long-distance comfort. The BMW X7 plays that role well, so it’ll suit well-heeled families with lots of offspring that need a more flexible interior than any normal luxury car can provide. In six-seat guise, it’s also likely to appeal to those that prefer to sit in the back and be driven in a high-riding car that has a lot of presence. Of course, some buyers just want the biggest and best BMW SUV money can buy.