2020 BMW X7

By April 1, 2020

Seating seven in true comfort, the 2020 BMW X7 is a full-fledged three-row crossover SUV—the biggest vehicle to be found at BMW dealerships. Based upon the smaller X5, which has a third-row option, the 2020 BMW X7 is ready to provide stirring performance and ride quality, as well as abundant stretch-out space and comfort.

A performance-focused M50i model with a stronger V-8 engine has joined the original 40i and 50i versions for the 2020 model year. The X7 borrowed its design foundation from the mid-size X5, giving it a bigger nose. Overall, the X7 is 9.1 inches longer than the X5, on a 5.1-inch longer wheelbase.

Like other BMW models, the X7 comes in a choice of trim levels, each with its own engine. The base xDrive40i version gets a silken-smooth, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, used in some of BMW’s hottest performers, propels the 50i, developing 456 hp and 479 pound-feet. Acceleration to 60 mph may be achieved in a brisk 5.2 seconds.

For even greater performance, the V-8 in the M50i generates 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That power boost sends the M50i to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds. All X7 models use an 8-speed automatic transmission and are equipped with all-wheel drive. The standard air suspension can raise or lower the X7 by several inches.

Federal and independent testing agencies have not yet crash-tested the X7, but it contains an admirable selection of active-safety features. Every X7 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive headlights, parking sensors, and active lane control. A surround-view camera system, head-up display, night vision, and automatic parking system can be added at extra cost.

BMW’s $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional system, including active cruise control, can help pilot the X7 at speeds below 37 mph on divided highways. Minimal driver attention is required, but it’s not a hands-free (self-driving) system. A $3,450 option links suspension dampers to a forward-facing camera, which “reads” the road ahead and can predict troublesome pavement and alter the suspension accordingly.

Model Lineup

Prices include $995 destination charge.

The X7 xDrive40i ($74,895) includes all-wheel drive, three seating rows, synthetic leather upholstery, 21-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, panoramic moonroof, heated 16-way power-adjustable front seats, four-zone climate control, LED headlights, a power tailgate, wireless smartphone charging, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen.

The X7 xDrive50i ($93,595) comes only with all-wheel drive and includes a 456-hp V-8, as well as leather upholstery.

The X7 M50i ($100,595) has all-wheel drive and an uprated 523-hp V-8, plus port-tuned exhaust, 22-inch wheels, sport brakes, soft-close doors, laser LED headlights, a head-up display, and upgraded leather.

Exterior

Overall appearance is strictly BMW-familiar, but the X7 borrows plenty of details from the X5. The X7 nose is even bigger and bolder than the X5’s, but otherwise the front end is new. A kink toward the rear end is a BMW hallmark.

The formidable two-section, vertically ribbed grille flaunts abundant brightwork, akin to BMW’s 7-Series sedan. Slim LED headlights make the effect more pronounced. Slim taillights are more conservative. Both the X5 and X7 are manufactured in South Carolina, and reveal excellent build quality.

Interior

Calm and stately, the X7’s lovely cabin appears even more balanced than the interior of an X5. Upper trim levels are opulent, with leather, open-pore wood, and layered glass accents.

Synthetic black leather is used to upholster the base 40i model. The 50i and M50i versions upgrade to genuine leather—optional for the 40i.

All seven potential passengers can expect plenty of space. A six-foot rider can sit behind a person of similar height without concern. Even the third row is suitable for adults as well as children—including one of those six-footer adults, if reasonably agile.

Most X7s are likely to have a second-row bench, but twin captain’s chairs can be substituted for an additional $850. Second-row leg room is ample. Sliding the seats rearward can expand passenger space toward limousine level.

BMW has replaced its long-familiar analog instruments with a digital dashboard. Not everyone will be pleased with that change. The twin 12.3-inch display screens are impressive, but not overpowering in the expansive cabin.

With all seatbacks upright, cargo space is 12.8 cubic inches. Folding the third row expands it to 48.6 cubic feet. Fold the second row flat and volume tops 90 cubic feet. The split-folding tailgate and low rear end can ease loading.

Driving Impressions

As expected from BMW, competent engines help the big X7 behave far better than expected from an SUV that weighs some 5,500 pounds. Able to clamber up mountain grades without evident strain, the 40i base model can dash to 60 mph in less than six seconds. BMW’s sweet turbo-6 is refined, smooth—and feels mostly effortless. The excellent 8-speed automatic delivers clean, quick shifts.

Acceleration to 60 mph drops to 4.5 seconds with the new M50i, versus 5.2 seconds in the mid-level 50i. Bigger brakes bring the M50i to a halt, while a sport-tuned suspension helps the X7 corner even flatter. Some SUV buyers might be surprised by the satisfying burble that emanates from the M50i’s sport-tuned exhaust.

The X7’s four-wheel independent suspension, augmented by air springs, results in a comfortably compliant ride, smothering bumps effectively.

With its rear-wheel bias, BMW’s all-wheel-drive system propels the X7 with authority, even under adverse conditions. An available off-road package would help it tackle most terrains. Front occupants get good views of the road ahead.

The 2020 BMW X7 is reasonably thrifty, considering its size. With the turbo-6 and all-wheel drive, it’s EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 25 highway, 22 combined. With its V-8, the M50i is estimated at 15/21/17 mpg.

Final Word

The 2020 BMW X7 is a posh, upper-crust rendition of an increasingly popular category: the seven-seat, three-row SUV. Expensive but worth the price, the X7 is equipped with features that make it a first-class family vehicle. The M50i is the most muscular choice, blending vigorous energy with glorious design and lavish detailing.

—by James M. Flammang, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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