Maybe it was because I had just climbed out of a BMW i8 to get into the 2019 BMW X7, but man was I floored by how huge it was. Huge in every sense. Huge in stature. Huge in girth. Huge in presence. Huge to sit in. I was really going to have to exercise some serious depth perception with this car.
The X7 is currently BMW’s biggest offering and you damn well won’t forget it, either. It’s luxurious and smooth, but you never quite shake the feeling you’re driving something the approximate length of a killer whale.
(Full Disclosure: I wanted to drive the 2019 X7 so badly that I asked BMW for one and the company’s rep said yes. I was provided with a full tank of gas, too.)
Needless to say, I had some trepidation. But, as it turned out, learning to live with the X7 was startlingly easy. Pleasant, even.
What Is It?
The X7 is a three-row crossover that seats seven, but if you option the middle row with captain’s chairs, then the number of seats drops to six. Oh, yes, because for how gargantuan the X7 is, it only seats two in its third row because of the sloping shape of the rear.
The interior is fantastically well-insulated, and the adaptable suspension so velvety that you’ll rarely feel any of the road’s imperfections while seated within. Something something about how the X7 cloisters passengers from the woes of the general populace and all that.
There’s also adaptive air suspension, which is incredibly fun to play with while waiting at stoplights. Simply bump a switch and watch from the inside as the car lowers or raises itself according to the setting you’ve chosen. I had no intention of taking the X7 off-roading, but it was still a neat trick.
Specs That Matter
The X7 comes in two trims. The first is the xDrive40i, which has a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six that produces a claimed 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. That was the car I tested.
The other option is the twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 in the xDrive50i, good for 456 HP and 479 lb-ft of torque. Both versions of the X7 come with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic.
Even BMW calls its largest son “expansive” in its own press release. It is 203.3 inches long (about 17 feet), 78.7 inches wide (about 6.5 feet) and 71.1 inches tall (about six feet). Curb weight comes to a chonky 5,370 pounds. BMW says it can tow up to 7,500 pounds.
When the initial fear of hitting another car because my car was so large faded away, I found the X7 to be a very pleasant commuter. It doesn’t exactly shrink around you, but you do figure out how to maneuver it quickly enough.
The interior, dressed in flashy, quilted blue and white leather (a $5,150 option!) wowed everyone who laid eyes on it. They ran their fingers across the stitching, pressed the buttons in the dash. They laughed at the gaudy crystal shift lever, thrusting up from the center console. I, unflinchingly and in the face of God, declared my love for it on the spot.
Yes, the interior is nice. It’s BMW-nice, which is very good on its own, but it’s still no Mercedes S-Class. The S-Class just goes that extra step further in detail and quality that BMW has yet to match.
The X7 is also indisputably tall, but it puts that height to good use. The pillars holding up the roof are tall, which means the windows are, too. You wouldn’t think this’d be something I’d bring up normally, but in the age of rising belt-lines and shrinking windows, visibility is important. Particularly when your car is massive, you’ll want to see as much as you can. I could see well out of the X7, and even over-the-shoulder glances were decent.
As with most BMWs I’ve experienced as of late, the low-speed steering was light and numb. It’s especially disconcerting when you are piloting something as large as the X7. You expect to put a little more effort into turning the damn thing, and so when the steering is feather-light, it throws you off. Likely, this is meant as a luxury touch, as I don’t imagine the AmEx-wielding X7 clientele thrilled with heavier steering. Has this actually been a complaint? Make it a little more weighty, more substantive. See if anyone notices.
The X7 also has a two-section split tailgate, which I found wholly unnecessary. I’ve praised the window hatch of station wagons before, but that’s because the floor of the cargo space is lower down. A split tailgate in that instance is great because you can reach down quickly to access the trunk. The X7 is so tall that the cargo floor is already at waist-height, rendering the access a split tailgate offers redundant.
The trunk, without the third row folded down, is also quite small. BMW didn’t list the cubic measurements, but in testing it out, I was able to get a pretty standard-sized duffel bag and a bag of groceries back there without room for much else.
For some reason, the X7 seems determined that nobody aboard perform any sort of manual labor at all. Both rows of rear seats, for example, have various buttons placed throughout the cabin to fold them down. Every seat motorized! But just say you wanted to manually fold the seat down because it’s faster. Could you?
Maybe, but I spent 20 minutes in a parking lot, trying to find some sort of manual lever for the seats, and came up with nothing. No wonder the X7 is so heavy, it’s got motors for everything on board. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to fix when one of those motors goes bad?
As a suburban around-town commuter, the X7's height and width blends in well with all the other big cars everyone in America drives. It’d hardly stick out at the parking lot at Costco or Home Depot or Whole Foods. Which is probably where you’d find most of them.
The xDrive40i version I had insulated the cabin from nearly everything. Engine noise was barely a whisper. Tire noise was imperceptible white noise. It very much offered the sense of driving a very plush, very insulation-filled coach. It was cozy.
The fear that had retreated during slow driving came roaring back when I approached a corner while carrying a little more speed than I expected. That was all sorted out by a quick squeeze of the brakes, but the whole time you’re in the X7, you can’t ignore the body roll. That knowledge comes back into play when you’re faced with a sharp turn and you start instinctively slowing way down because you just know the car won’t be happy doing that.
As for straight-line acceleration, it’s actually decent. The straight-six hauled the big body where I needed it go, but I couldn’t shake the sense I needed more. Not much more, but still more. The V8 is the way to go on this if you can.
One of the best things, though, is being able to hear the turbocharger spooling up when you mash the throttle. In the X7, where you’ve been expressly prohibited from hearing anything as crass as an engine working, it was a nice little change.
Once you get up to speed, though, the X7 is a cruiser. In his first drive review, Jalopnik test pilot Andrew Collins asserted the car made 100 mph feel like a “comfortable canter,” and I totally get it. It’s almost as though the X7 was built for high-speed cruising. Incredibly stable and measured, you could be going either 40 mph or 140 mph and the interior vibration and noise wouldn’t really change. It’s a true Autobahn cruiser, and you can get it in America.
Here is where we get to the icky bit. The X7 starts at $73,900, but after the two-tone interior, premium package, cold weather package, luxury seating package and off-road package, my six-cylinder X7 loaner came out to $100,395. This is entirely too much for a car that will almost certainly depreciate horrendously as soon as it’s driven off the dealer lot. (But this being a BMW, lease pricing is what will really matter here.)
The X7 is priced competitively with the Mercedes-Benz GLS-class, so they are both exorbitantly expensive. The third row is nice, but it makes the trunk laughably small when the seats are up. My advice? If you reeeally want one of these, what’s so wrong about picking one up after finding a good CPO deal?
The X7, mysteriously, isn’t as roomy in the third row or trunk area as you’d think it would be, despite its girth. And I did find it slightly annoying that nearly everything had a motor of its own.
Still though, it rides comfortably and is a great highway cruiser. If you need something for long road trips, has tons of interior space and that must have a BMW badge on its nose, then this is it.
Just don’t get sucked into those massive kidney grilles. I think they have a gravitational field of their own.