2019 BMW X7 xDrive40i
3.0-liter inline six, turbocharged (335 hp @ 5500 rpm, 330 lb/ft. @ 1500 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
20 city / 25 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
22.8 (observed mileage, MPG)
12.0 city / 9.4 highway / 10.8 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $74,895 US / $95,104 CAD
As Tested: $92,895 US/ $111,554 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,604 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
I wanted to hate this big crossover so much. My expectations were minimal. How on earth could BMW, the standard-bearer of legitimate sports sedans for half a century, build a massive three-row SUV? It’s just a cash grab, I was certain.
Yeah, I’m supposed to be unbiased — but finding anyone that reviews cars that has absolutely no bias is a fools’ errand. Everyone here knows I’d give ten thumbs up should Renault bring a Mégane RS Trophy-R stateside. We all have our automotive loves. There are thousands who adore their Roundel-clad sedans — and will turn their nose at any perceived dilution of the brand.
I’m loath to say it, but this 2019 BMW X7 is worthy of the badge. You won’t find a racing series dedicated to the big three-row beast, but I’m sure in time you’ll find plenty in race paddocks with a caged E36 in tow.
Yeah, that grille. I know. It’s big. Much has been made of the signature twin-kidney grille that has been supersized for this supersized vehicle. It’s a bit garish, but consider the alternative. Anything much smaller would be comically disproportionate to the scale of this three-row crossover.
The rest of the X7 is exactly what you’ve come to expect from BMW’s crossover lineup — conservative, with a couple of interesting lines. I dig the slash across the side of the truck from the top of the front wheel rising to the taillamp — it defines a concavity to the door panel that hides some of the bulk.
My tester is the xDrive40i, which confusingly is a three-liter turbocharged inline six. It’s not overwhelmingly powerful, but I never found my right foot wishing for more. After all, BMW quotes a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds. Had I needed to tow with the X7, I’d imagine the bigger V8 in the xDrive50i might have made acceleration a bit more brisk, but either powertrain is rated to drag 7500 pounds — plenty for most buyers, I’m sure. Considering the size and capabilities of the X7, I’m impressed with the fuel economy, averaging nearly 23 miles per gallon over my testing period.
Before anyone asks — the tire marks on the road in a couple of these photos are NOT from me or this X7. I’d rather not have a conversation with the PR department about tire replacement bills.
Lane keeping assist has quickly become a common feature across the automotive spectrum — if it’s not standard, it’s packaged with most high-level trims. Depending on the system fitted, most cars will either beep, buzz the driver’s seat, buzz the steering wheel, or gently “nudge” the wheel back into the intended lane of travel.
The BMW X7 is different. Much of my typical commute is on narrow, twisty roads, and I’ll often get the left side wheels rather close to the centerline while I become accustomed to yet another car. The X7 will yank the steering wheel abruptly should the car stray offline. It’s disconcerting at first, but I’d have to believe it’s but a feedback mechanism to help train the driver to be more attentive, as the car itself doesn’t suddenly veer for the guardrail as the tiller swings 45 degrees. I certainly learned the limits and edges of the road quickly while helming this big Bimmer.
The interior on this X7 is impressive — though, for the price, it should be. The Tartufo merino leather is supple, and beautifully stitched with a funky quilting pattern. The seats front and rear are perfectly supportive — I’ll always give extra points to a car with an extending thigh bolster, as it eases leg cramps over a long drive. This tester had the optional second row captain’s chairs, which were nearly as good as the front seats, and eased access to the third row for a couple of teammates from my daughters’ softball team. The wayback offered plenty of legroom even for adults.
With the third row up, luggage space isn’t incredible, but there is enough room for a couple of rolling suitcases. The power dual liftgate and tailgate are nice to have — it offers a low lifting floor when the tailgate is dropped, but when one is home from a supermarket run where the cheap plastic bags have split and there are cans and oranges rolling everywhere, keeping the tailgate up while you lift the top glass is nice to keep said groceries from rolling into the street. Plus, a button in the cargo area will lower the air suspension 1.6 inches should the liftover remain too high.
Much hate has been heaped upon earlier versions of BMW’s iDrive infotainment controls. I can’t do the same here. The console-mounted knob/button/toggle is instinctual, making interfacing with audio and navigation controls exceedingly simple. I especially love the huge 12.3-inch instrument display that will display navigation (among other things) directly in front of the driver, leaving audio information on the matching 12.3-inch display.
The BMW X7 is expensive, certainly — and as BMW loves to leave many options off the base trims, that price tag climbs rapidly. But it’s easy to see where the money is spent. Most importantly to fanatics, it’s worthy of the badge.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn]