For model year 2019, BMW adds the first-ever X7 to the X Sport Activity Vehicle lineup, the largest yet.
The X7 has three rows of seating for up to seven passengers (six with the optional second-row captain’s chairs, $600), standard two-axle air suspension, lots of advanced driver-assistance systems, spaciousness, agility, and luxurious ambience. Plenty of optional equipment is available to reflect the personality and preferences of the owner.
Two models are available: the base xDrive40i (base price $73,900) and the xDrive50i($92,600) – the model I drove.
The xDrive 40i has an updated 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, while my tester had an updated 4.4-liter Twin Power Turbo V-8 with start/stop technology. Both are mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and equipped with xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive.
The V-8 is upgraded from crankcase to engine management system, for a stirring blend of power and V-8 soundtrack. A new ignition system restarts the engine smoothly and swiftly when start/stop is activated. With peak torque of 479 foot-pounds and maximum output of 456 horsepower, the V-8 has impressive, sustained pulling power from the get-go.
Intelligent connectivity, working with data from the navigation system, “sees” the road ahead and along with information from Active Cruise Control sensors allows the transmission to shift proactively. For example, if a vehicle or downhill section is detected, the system will downshift early to use engine braking to decelerate.
New design language includes the largest kidney grill ever, prominently positioned between slim twin headlights emphasizing the width of the car. Large windows and a long, flowing roof line hint at a spacious, light-bathed interior.
Long rear doors also imply spaciousness and ease of entry and exit to the second and third rows. Expansive, clearly structured surfaces and eye-catching character lines rising up to the rear are hallmarks of the new design.
The sizable rear is broken up by horizontal lines, most notably a chrome bar across the liftgate connecting the slim taillights, which wrap around to the side.
My X7 xDrive50i was Mineral White Metallic, one of nine available exteriors. Shadowline exterior trim was standard, featuring Gloss Black grille, lower bumper trim, front fog light housings, outside mirror bases, window trim, faux front fender vents with rocker panel trim extending to the rear wheel arches and behind the wheel, roof rails, rear spoiler trim (extended down the side of the liftgate), and lower rear bumper trim (with embedded twin chrome exhaust tips.
The large grille was outlined in satin silver metallic, with seven vertical silver bars on each section. Twenty-two-inch V-spoke wheels ($1,300) had machined faces with glossy gray painted pockets and performance tires.
A BMW Display Key ($300) had a touch screen and function similar to a smartphone, as well as a standard key fob with buttons for lock/unlock and panic/alarm. Touch-screen functions included remote start and precondition (heat/cool), remote lock/unlock, vehicle info such as battery voltage and fuel range, pedometer, and remote-park preparation.
Remote park functionality is an option ($750), and allows the driver to use arrows on the touch screen to park the vehicle from outside, at one mph. The key must be charged (wirelessly or via micro USB) and has a battery life of about 24 hours. Those of you who like gadgets will probably like the Display Key, but I probably wouldn’t choose it as it seems unnecessary, and the short battery life could be troublesome.
The Digital Key (via BMW Connected app), on the other hand, uses Near Field Communication to allow the vehicle to be lock/unlocked from a compatible smartphone (Android 8.0 and above, limited to select carriers) by holding the phone up to the door handle, and started as soon as the phone has been placed in the wireless charging tray.
The interior was Tartufo (aged brick) extended Merino leather ($1,000) with a Luxury Seating Package ($1,200) including ventilated and massaging front seats, including eight massage programs with three levels of intensity each.
Fine line Black Wood trimmed the door panels, dash and center stack/console. A Leather Dash package added $1,200.
Luxurious second-row captain’s chairs had armrests and seat/backrest adjustments, as well as fore- and-aft sliding. Two second-row seats with a space between is a first for a BMW activity vehicle and is convenient for access to the adult-friendly third row. The second- and third-row seats were controlled by several sets of conveniently located buttons.
An Executive Package ($2,100) added an amazing Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof to the dual-panel panoramic moon roof, with light spreading across the glass in white, blue, orange, bronze, lilac, or green. The package also had handmade, diamond-cut glass trim on the gear lever with an illuminated X on the volume control, on the start/stop button and iDrive controller. Heated and cooled cupholders finished the package.
A Cold Weather Package ($1,200) added heated front-seat armrests, a heated steering wheel, heated seats front and rear (seat and backrest), and separate temperature controls for driver, front, rear second- and third-row passengers.
A Dynamic Handling Package ($4,750) brought M Sport Brakes with M logo displayed on the fixed aluminum calipers; Active Comfort Drive stabilization system with Road Preview (forward facing camera reads the road surface, adjusts the suspension via Dynamic Damper Control for sporty handling and luxurious riding comfort); Integral Active Steering, which turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front to enhance stability in high-speed maneuvers or in the opposite direction during low-speed maneuvering to decrease the turning radius; and M Sport Differential (precise locking effect at the rear wheels, for control through fast turns, and power down coming out of corners).
An M Sport Package ($3,550) added a stiffer suspension, slightly lower ride height, M Sport badging and an M Sport steering wheel. Remote start, soft-close automatic doors, rear electric side window shades and a head-up display were included in the Premium package ($1,550). A Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system ($3,400) brought 20 speakers powered by 1,500 watts of audio output.
The head-up display is larger than in previous BMWs, featuring speed, speed limits, messages and warnings, detailed route guidance, and telephone and entertainment lists.
BMW Live Cockpit Pro had a digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch center display – the largest displays available in a BMW – and new haptic controls on the iDrive controller. Multi-modal controls – iDrive touch controller, touch-screen center display, cloud-based voice control and gesture control – give operators a personal choice.
The digital speedometer and tachometer are pushed to the outer edges as geometric bands with open spaces in the middle for navigation and other information from the center display. Wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, and six USB ports are standard.
A Rear-seat Entertainment Professional system ($2,200) added two 10.2-inch full-HD touch-screen displays, a Blu-ray-compatible DVD player, an HDMI socket and two headphone jacks. The system can access a navigation map and BMW Connected Drive.
Standard safety technology includes Active Protection and Active Driving Assistant including Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Collision Warning, Frontal Collision Warning and Pedestrian (and cyclist) Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert Rear, and Speed Limit Information.
The xDrive 50i adds Parking Assist Plus with Top View, Panorama View, and 3-D View, and Active Driving Assistant Professional with Active Lane Keeping Assistant and Extended Traffic Jam Assistant for limited access highways. A Driver Alertness Monitoring System will alert the driver to take a break if inattention or drowsiness is detected.
An Automatic Lane Change feature will move the vehicle safely into the next lane when the driver holds the direction indicator in the intended direction, detecting space and other moving vehicles. Automatic Cruise Control, in addition to maintaining speed and distance, will match vehicle speed to the posted speed limit.
My X7 xDrive 50i was EPA rated for 15 mpg city/21 highway/17 combined. Driving on a mix of country roads and four-lane highways, I averaged 16.1 mpg.
The new X7 is large, luxurious, comfortable, very attractive, loaded with more amenities than I have room to list, and versatile with a massive cargo area (48.6cubic feet behind the second row), spacious seating for adults in all rows, and all-wheel drive (not for heavy-duty off-roading, but fun on rougher terrain).
Options totaling $23,050 and destination charges of $995 brought the delivered price of this lovely American-built vehicle to $117,945.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.